I’ve had a pretty mixed year, I think. On the one hand, I’ve spent some beautiful times meeting old friends, traveling and seeing new places, tasting new foods. On the other hand, the lasting memory of 2014 will probably be Mom’s hospitalisation and the hairy ride before she was discharged, and the difficulties we are now facing with repeated infections.
My relationship with Mom continues to evolve as we both change. Only last year, a friend remarked to me – you speak with your mother as though she were a child. She didn’t mean it negatively, she just found it novel and a bit cute. I only hope she understood why it were so. I had used short sentences, simple ideas, and a sing-song voice, just as one would when speaking to a young one. This comes naturally to me, and I find Mom is less confused and more cooperative when I do this.
Another time, a friend said – She must be terrified at what’s happening to her. This idea was news to me. Mom never spoke about her condition, and she never complained. In fact, she was more inclined to say she was okay even when she wasn’t, which is probably why we often miss the early signs of illness. Mom has a remarkable ability to accept the way things are and carry on. I don’t think she’s scared, more likely just baffled, especially at being unable to do physically what used to come easily.
It’s strange but a new insight into my relationship with Mom came from an acquaintance, who noticed my pet causes had a common theme – You’re pro-choice! Why is this? Could it be you felt you weren’t given a choice? Who took away your choice, was it your mother? A door that had long remained close in my mind opened, and I remembered what my mother used to preach – that children should and can always be persuaded to do what was right.
The problem was, who defined what was right?
I did not always agree with Mom on what was right, but on occasion I was persuaded. If she didn’t fully convince me, I sometimes completed the job and convinced myself, following reason instead of my heart. Believing “I shall overcome”, I have suppressed my deepest instincts to do something else. This has led to some pain, complications, duality.
This past year, I have reflected upon Mom’s influence in my life, and my own complicity in the decisions I made. I am more at peace with Mom, the niggling irritations that I didn’t understand have disappeared. A few years ago, before dementia was diagnosed, Mom said to me – life’s like that, it’s okay. I like to think she can still understand this much, even though the words are now missing.