Things Mom Lost Along the Way

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When I was a little girl, my pretty young mother used to go to parent-teacher meetings at my elementary school. To the best of my knowledge, Dad never accompanied her. Those were different times and children were primarily the mother’s responsibility. I know those meetings intimidated her: she had to quit school in her mid-teens so she could leave home and start making her way in the world and – although she later acquired her high school diploma by correspondence courses – her lack of a formal education always embarrassed her. I am sure she would have been grateful for my Dad’s company, but men didn’t ‘do’ those sorts of things back in the 60s and 70s.

I often thought of Mom making those lonely, intimidating visits to speak with our school teachers as my own kids entered school and I attended their parent-teacher meetings in turn. My children’s elementary school was a progressive one: the kids frequently took part in those meetings and occasionally squirmed a bit when some of the news from their teachers included less-than-exemplary marks or behaviour. But I was glad to go; glad to be made aware of my children’s improvement as well as what they needed to work on.

What I never expected, back in those days, was that I would be required to attend such meetings one more time before the end of my life.

Each April, my sister and I receive a letter from the seniors’ home where my mother and my step-father are now living, inviting us, not to a parent-teacher meeting, but instead, to an adult child /adult caregiver meeting to discuss how Mom is doing.

The meeting is impressive, thorough and – the first time, at least – a little intimidating. We always sit at a good-sized conference table with our Mom’s doctor, the resident dietician, the building director, the recreation/spiritual director and the nurse practitioner. Occasionally, a student nurse sits in on the meeting as well. Each of them gives us a brief report on their area of expertise regarding our mother. We are also invited to prepare questions ahead of time. True to our nature, my sister and I always take this task very seriously, working together to carefully prepare a list of questions and observations a few days prior to the meeting. We always leave the meeting feeling listened to, informed and reassured that Mom and our step-father are getting the best care possible.

Unlike the parent-teacher meetings I used to attend for my children, however, each year that my sister and I attend these meetings includes a list of Things Mom Lost Along the Way: her declining mobility, her pain management, observations about her increasingly-childish artwork, her spelling mistakes, her occasional angry outbursts and of course, her memory, as she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease a few years ago.

It is the complete opposite of a progress report, in other words.

We already know Mom is happy there: she tells us that herself all the time. But oh, how different these meetings are from the busy, encouraging, hopeful progress reports I recall getting for my children all those years ago at their parent-teacher meetings.

There is a sad finality to a life winding down. Perhaps it is to prepare us, her children, for the reality that lies ahead. Perhaps it is to remind us, at every stage in our lives, to treasure every moment.

Even the temper tantrums…

Source of photo

Patti Moore Wilson © wednesdayschildca.wordpress.com

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Author: Patti Moore Wilson, wednesdayschild2

I write what I feel. And I rarely know exactly what I feel until I write. I have lived long enough to have known many joys and many sorrows. I have made many mistakes; I have forgiven myself for a few… I have learned that there are lessons in every step of this journey, if we only take the time to pay attention… I hope you will feel free to pick and choose the stories that resonate for you…

10 thoughts on “Things Mom Lost Along the Way”

  1. Interesting parallels Patti. Also interesting that you write about the life that surrounds you and are less self-centric. So are you taking care for your future? We are learning more and more about Alzheimer’s and how diet can improve the future life prognosis.
    I too grew up in the old traditions of parenting and know that old ways or new, it takes what you show in your writing to do it as best as we can. Being selfless towards others.
    Take care.
    Peace.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It sounds as if your Mother is getting great care in the home. I know how difficult it is to watch someone (with Alzheimers) slip away. My mother had the same disease but fortunately my father was able to look after her at home with daily assistance from a team of nurses even so the last two years of her life were difficult for everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I’m sorry you and your family had to go through that, but so touched to know that your Dad was able to take care of her right up until the end. In my Mom’s case, my stepfather also has dementia but he is much further along in the disease and it happened much more quickly for him. They are blessed, though, to continue to enjoy one another’s company and to still be in the same room together, which makes things so much easier for both of them. Thank you so much for stopping by…🙏💕

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You have such incite and a way with words. A sense of humour is so important in the care of seniors. It’s a strange turnaround when we become the parents and our parents become the children . Well done story.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for sharing!!.. Change is the law of life and now you and your family are on a new journey, a new adventure and perhaps the bond and the closeness is stronger than before… the progress is you are there for each other with love, something that cannot be measured or put on a report card… 🙂

    “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched– they must be felt with the heart.” Helen Keller

    Liked by 1 person

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