Trying to be good sons (but not having a clue how)
I’m going to try to keep this story short, (because the internet only allows short attention spans). But the multiple dimensions of this story are rich with texture. But I’ll keep it brief, and continue the explanations into the photo captions.
Our mother is aging. She is now 82. Almost deaf. And now with early dementia, she also is smoking like a fiend. I have no idea how smoking and dementia are connected, but they seem to be. My brother Robert and I are rallying together to support my mother, as she wishes to continue to live at home. She’s always been “an outside person, with her flowers”, so the thought of assisted living is the last possible bad option. She needs almost daily help now. We can’t get her in the shower; she won’t cook a solid healthy meal; we’ve taken her car keys away; she’s basically turned into a Country Western song — drinking coffee, and smoking cigarettes, (and watching The Weather Channel).
A few weeks ago we finally arranged a suitable caregiver to come to her home four days per week. We tried a few individuals, but they all flaked out, so we ended up with a company that sends caregivers out. Of course we were nervous about who would actually show up. As it turns out, we were blessed with an angel.
Rose is her caregiver now three of the four days per week. She is incredible. She is a trained teacher for developmentally challenged children, with a Masters Degree, and my fear is that we’ll lose her when the school year begins. But for now, we have her and we aren’t letting go. The other day, Rose showed up with corn from the garden, and various vegetables and chicken, and she cooked my mother a birthday lunch. As we sat around the table eating, I began to compare notes with Rose — as it turns out, she is the little sister of Paul Cole, who was my friend at T.C. Cherry Elementary School, in the mid sixties. Paul was also friends with Vince Rowe, who I have not talked to in years. Vince and I were the fastest runners in our grade — we’d run from the left field foul pole to the right field pole, and always be neck and neck.
Rose told me a story of even remembering that her kindergarten class, at her church, was segregated. This must have been about 1966 or so. Amazing to think about — our generation being segregated. Rose and Paul lived on Smallhouse Road; there were nine in her family. Paul graduated and went to the Navy, and is retired, living in Hawaii. I saw him a few years ago at our reunion.
So anyway, today Rose and my mother and I cleaned out her kitchen cabinets, moved things to the garage, watered the plants, and fetched the mail. My brother is great too, always comes by to check on her often. He’s great with keeping the house running smoothly; he completely fixed her broken air conditioner last week, almost effortlessly.
I wish there was an Instruction Manual on how to properly support a parent, when these decisions need to be made. My brother and I just text back and forth, trying to figure it out, a day at a time, doing the best we can.