Monday, February 9, 2009

Mother, May I?

We have different styles, my mother and I. The biggest differences I recognize as coming from Ray. Surprisingly to me, they often involve tolerance for and respecting the needs of others. Ray said we are afraid of the things we don't know. Getting to know someone very different from yourself breaks down barriers and fear. Some differences have to do with country living. I love it. She lived in the country as a child and hates it. I like quite outside, but the sound of a human voice inside -- radio, TV, something to counter the solitariness of living alone. She doesn't hear the outside noise. Deafness brings its own isolation.

Ray said that when you have disposable income, it's OK to pamper yourself occasionally. Mother says, "Don't buy it unless you absolutely need it. When you do buy it, get the lowest price available." That's why we have 11 lbs of margerine in the freezer -- it was on sale, 5# for $5. Consider that "It's Not Butter" is selling here for just under $3/lb and butter is $4.50 - $7/lb. That's also why she loves thrift shops and garage sales. It's a left-over from Depression Era economics, followed closely by WWII in Hawaii when not much was available.

Mother is just 3 months short of her 95th birthday. She moves remarkably well for a 95-year-old, but her pace is slowing and her endurance level is getting lower. Bringing a loaf of bread from the car to the house after a trip to the market is an effort. There are things she would like to do, but doesn't because they take too much effort. Traveling, for example. Anything that requires stairs. Walking up or down a slope, even 15' of sloped driveway or parking lot. Crossing the street is a long walk. Will she do some of those special things in a wheelchair? Not on your life! She doesn't say it, but I'm sure she is thinking it makes her look old.

Mother wants to be in control. It's not "I'm going to ..., would you care for....?" It's "Here's what I'm doing (or having), and here's what you will do." I am, after all, still her daughter. Apparently daughters are not adults. My daughters, biological and hanai, are adults. Even the teen-age granddaughters have likes, dislikes and interests that are unique and important. Sometimes there are things they can learn from me. At least as often, there are things I can learn from them.

Mother doesn't want to spend time with my dad -- her husband. To say that he has treated her badly for most of the 70 years they have been together is an understatement. Emotionally and verbally abusive is probably a better description. She is resentful of the time I spend at the care facility and meeting some of his physical needs. Like doing his laundry. Or taking care of the boat. Or packing up his possessions. "Why should we bother to store those?" she asks. "We should dispose of them." Some of those things she wants to dispose of are things that Ian and/or I find interesting.

So the dance goes on, balancing her needs, both physical and emotional, with his -- and with my own. Mother, may I go out dancing? The answer depends on the mood.

Look for positives. Give thanks. Keep praying.

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