The aging of a parent is a remarkable chance to look at ourselves…deeply, honestly, authentically; take an inventory of who we are, and for god sakes who we want to be down the road.
Navigating this time in my mom’s life has had me promising my kids that i will be different; less stubborn, less critical, more open minded when I am considered ELDERLY. And I have promised to listen when they tell me I am none of those things and in fact am exactly like my mother…wanting what I want, when I want it, regardless of who is effects.
I have developed a plan for the ELDERLY stage in my own life. I will invite all of my loved ones over for a nice dinner. We will chat and reminisce and talk of their futures. I will tell each one how much I love them and kiss them eternally as I say good-bye. As soon as they are out of sight, I hobble to my car that has been packed with just what I need and a few treasures I couldn’t leave behind. Then I drive until I find a place that suits me. I figure the middle of the country, maybe Kansas. Hey, it was good enough for Dorothy. Then I would open my dream pie shop: The Slice of Life. I would bake and chat and eat all of the pie I wanted. I would welcome what came and not fight the inevitable.
In other words I want to go out on my terms, hurting those I love as little as possible. I think this makes great sense. It doesn’t impact my children with their young families; doesn’t drain anyones resources, doesn’t ceaselessly fight the forces of nature; causes less difficult decisions to be made and in a way sets my children free.
Now comes the tricky part…my mother wants nearly the same thing. She wants to stay in her home; die in her home; drive until the police tell her she can’t and eat Udderly Chocolate Ice Cream 3 times a day for as long as she is able(she is a diabetic, but has thrown caution to the wind). The daughter in me has not tolerated letting go and not trying to save her, or insure she has a better quality of life. She looks at me time and time again and just says…’please, just let me be. This is what I want… to be in control of myself, for as long as I can and for however that turns out. Please! I am as safe here as any where, but here I am content.’
I resist, I plot, I plan, I get second opinions; I grocery shop for her bringing home healthy frozen yogurt (which she won’t eat) and leaving the Udderly Chocolate in Safeway’s freezer. She is asking, but I am not listening. I am controlling. I am controlling cause I am not ready yet. I am not ready to be in the world with out her. SELFISH, fuck yes. But a lifetime of answering to Krissy (she is the only person in the world who calls me that), and having her stand in the driveway waving until I am out of sight: bad Norwegian jokes and story after story of how much she has loved my father. Has she been a perfect mom? OMG No…but I know once she is gone, I will not be loved like that again, as imperfect as it has been.
So I am on the verge of baking a chocolate cream pie, my favorite…swinging by Safeway for the Udderly Chocolate that is her favorite and celebrating what we love together and throw caution/control to the wind together.