Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Digging Up the Back Forty

Every once in awhile, the only way I can deal with anxiety is to dig. When I comment that I am going outside to "dig the back forty" people who know me are aware that I am hugely overwhelmed.

I can't dig as well or as long as I used to. Aches and pains get in the way. Besides which, the back lawn, which now takes the place of the "back forty", is covered in six inches of snow at the moment, or it is raining outside or there is a wind chill of many minus degrees. So I pace.

I have worn a path in the floor in the living room from trying to expend excess negative energy that stems from trying to make nurses, careworkers and government officials see united sense about my mother's care.

During these many bouts of pacing, I find once I've found a solution, I can put that particular problem to rest. But during the last while, once one dilemma is solved, another crops up...and then, sometimes there are so many complications, I don't know which one to choose to unravel.

I attempt to still my mind, to find my centre. To take each convoluted thought and painstakingly smooth out its path...

My mother's care is the biggest conundrum. There are so many people involved in her care, each one having a different view of the reality involved.

She can't walk.

She doesn't know how to use her powered wheelchair, with an oxygen tube attached to her nostrils.

She can't stand for long enough to transfer herself from chair to chair.

She is confused, falling further and further into senile dementia.

Any activity of any kind tires her to where she has trouble speaking. She has one infection after another. And yet, she has managed to convince others who have power that she knows of what she speaks...leaving no prisoners in her quest to go home.

So the family begins a kind of dance.

The prognosis by her doctor for my mom to live at home, largely by herself, is not good. Each person, her daughters included, after having spoken with Mom, comes out of her room feeling differently than the other...

All this makes for much discussion amongst the professionals and Mom's family. I think about many different viewpoints, as I pace.

And what is my hope for Mom? I see her, through my admittedly only 55 year old rose- coloured glasses, being cared for, in a room with the morning sun streaming in. I see her sitting in her favourite recliner, in a room where there are many aids to health and help within easy reach. I see her living her remaining time in reflection, without the incessant fear that has plagued her all her life. I see her sitting in her chair, watching the gardens flower...the gardens that surround a care home.

My viewpoint is admittedly selfish. I no longer want to receive telephone calls from my Mom, where she begs me to find help for her. I no longer want to feel so helpless, from those breathless calls. I no longer want my body to tense each time the telephone rings, especially if it is at night. I live at least 3/4 of an hour away from my Mom.

I have no experience with picking up a body that becomes limp and unresponsive. Even if my body allowed me to. When she falls, I have the most horrendously helpless feeling...this is my Mother that is lying at my feet. So I will push my body to its limits, trying to help her up. This has happened to me a couple of has occurred many different times, with others. But Mom expects the help, and always manages to convince the helper to do it.

And Mom expects to go home. She has the right to live at risk, I tell myself. I would leave her be, to do as she likes, if she could only do it. Mom's spirit is willing; her body is failing. And she is afraid of recognizing it, of accepting it, as so many of us are, when we reach the last mile or so on the path of life.

Mom recognizes too, that her memory is failing, that one day is blending into the next. She counts, does my mother. She counts the days on her calendar; she counts the hours on the clock. She asks which day it is, over and over. She struggles to grasp and remember the day and sometimes, she's successful. But, increasingly, she's not.

But she has not forgotten that she wants to go home...she just does not remember the horrible times she had just so very recently, when she was home. And since this memory is not allowed to surface, she chooses, instead, to remember a time when she was able.

This is the memory that urges her to go home.

But the other memory...that is the one that makes me pace.


  1. Hi Marion, I've stopped by to encourage you to enter one of your posts about family in the BLOG VILLAGE Goes GONZO Carnival!

  2. Marion,
    It's hard to read what you write about because I have been through it and I know others have and will. Second thoughts, doubts, guilt, flight. They are your companions.

  3. If you physcially can not go to the back forty. Then go to the back forty in your mind. As so get there sit and ask the questions of spirit. Ask spirit "How do I handle this?" What do I need and how do I get it?
    Then listen. Listen with your eyes your ears. You never know in form the answers come. Trust yourself to receieve the direction you and your mother need. It may not be want you or your mother may want to hear, see or feel but it spirit does communicate. Sit and have a full fledged discussion with the feelings you have and ask for guidence. If your intentions are full of uncondtional love then the method you need to employ will be full of love and compassion. There comes a time where the roles of parent and child reverse. We do not want this to happen, at first, but as the time goes by and you see that what is being done for your loved one is making life more comfortable and secure and loving then the apprehension seems to fade and the feelings that are associated with them turn to a knowing. God bless you on your journey and remember to love yourself. It is only when you have love inside then you can give it away.
    You my friend are learning a lesson and it will make you a stronger being.

  4. Thank you for understanding, Sheila. It was hard post to write, but I figure things out that way, too...along with pacing. What will be will be...

    It is the waiting that I find I have such difficulty with.

  5. Thank you for explaining so well what I feel and meant to say, Dave. It is exactly what I have to do.

    Lessons come in all shapes and sizes, sometimes it doesn't matter how many lessons of the same kind we get, I find there is always something new to learn.

    Thanks for just being there, my friend.

  6. Hi Marion - Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog. I can really relate to what you're saying about your mother. I went through a difficult period with my father last summer while the powers that be decided what would be best for him. You can appreciate that they want to respect the wishes of the elderly person, but more account should really be taken of when that person is no longer able to make a sensible judgment. My father was able to go on driving long after he was in no fit state to do so, but he wouldn't listen to me, and the doctors wouldn't tell him to stop, however much I suggested they should. Fortunately no one was killed - and eventually my father could no longer remember he had a car.

    Now, thank goodness, he has something close to what you wish for your mother. He is in a care home with a view of the garden and people to look after him. His mental situation is far from pleasant. He is constantly trying to remember where he is and what is going on, but most of the time he does not seem too distressed about it. It is just what he does. And I am confident that he is in the right place, given his situation. I really hope that your mother will soon end up in the right place too.

    As you may have seen from my blog, I too am on a spiritual journey. An important part of that is learning to accept things as they are. But this is difficult, is it not, when someone close to you, such as a parent, is in such a condition? But perhaps it helps when we understand that raging against it helps no one, not ourselves or those around us, nor even the parent. For we need what energy we have to do what we can for them, rather than waste it in getting upset all the time. This is a hard lesson to learn however - and in the meantime, we can always dig the garden!

  7. Thank you, Simon, your comment gave me hope. I have gone through this situation twice before, with in-laws, and I sympathize with the father in law had three bad accidents where people were hurt...and yet he was still allowed to drive.

    My mother will go home on Monday. She refuses care, other than a few hours during the day. This is her decision; I must remember what will be, will be. And watch and wait.

    And perhaps Mom knows better than I, even with the cloudiness that is fogging her mind. I must take that into consideration, too. Who am I in the scheme of things here? It is not my is my Moms life and she has the right to attempt to live it the way she wants.

    As a daughter, all I can do at this point is love her, and watch and wait. And give her as much positive Reiki energy as she will allow.

    I can only do the best I can. But it would help a lot if I could just dig in that garden!

  8. Marion, I know it's difficult and I'm so sorry that it is. I agree with Dave. One of the hardest thing for us to face, when my mom was ill, was the fact that she wanted to be home and couldn't always be, and that we couldn't give her perfect care. (What is perfect? Would perfect be no illness?) But I'm also certain my mom knows now that we did the best we could, out of love. That's what matters in the long run. The love.

    Many blessings to you and your mom.

  9. I don't know if this will give you any comfort or not, Marion, but I can tell you from experience with 3 elderly parents that they reach a point where they are always wanting to "go home," even if they ARE at home.

    My Daddy does not have dementia, but he has just recently started talking about going home.

    What they really mean is that they want things the way they used to be, when they were independent.

    I feel for your situation. Since you can't dig, can you knit, or something else that will give your mind something else to focus on for a little while? IF you can get some rest and leave the problem alone for awhile, your subconscious will continue to work on choosing the best way to handle your Mom.

  10. I enjoyed a day outside today; the sun was pouring down from a clear blue sky...and it had warmth in it.

    There is nothing like a gentle workout in the garden, picking up debris, to clear my head.

    Thank you, Barbara, for reminding me of the love. If anything, my love for my mother has grown stronger watching her fight the world...

    DB, that is exactly what my mother means when she talks of going home...back to earlier days. So now, she may have to come to her own acceptance in her own time.

    The bulbs are all up; the sodden ground seemed to dry a little today. It was good.

  11. You have my total understanding on the issues of which you are speaking as experienced similiar issues with my own mother.

    The end came with surprising peace and strength for her, but looking back realise my inability to protect myself from her needs was my own issue.

    She had the right to make her choices but I had the right to protect myself, something I was not able to manage.

    I wish you well, it is never easy when you truely love the person, best wishes, The Artist

  12. I have never been in such a situation and can image how hard and sad it must be. Wishing you all strenght and the best. Hang in there and only do what you can (I know, easier saidt than done) when you want to help so so much! Take care of yourself.

  13. My heart goes out to you Marion. What a terrible time for you. To see your mother physically unable and then to have the horror of dementia on top of it.
    Sending prayers...


  14. I can't dig but I can chop wood to blow off steam and energy ; and I need to anyway . . . chop that is.
    We went thru a similar scene as you have with my wife's mother. After three tries back and forth between a care facility and "home" she finally agreed to stay. But this was after she was seen wandering about town asking for a ride back to her house. Fortunately it is a small town and she was always helped. Gone are the days when our families take care of their own as needed.
    I assume with the famous Canadian health care system that your mother's expenses will be taken care of for the most part.

    I found your tiny town in the Atlas. Is it ever warm enough to swim in the bay there?
    Thanks for visiting my blog.

  15. It is very difficult, Artist, to protect oneself, I find, when ties run so deep. I am trying, with everything I have, to protect myself during this time. Thank you for understanding.

    Hannalie and Tea, thank you for your support. Both of you are such busy people, I appreciate your taking the time to write.

    Goatman, I believe the word might be "infamous", lol. Expenses are largely taken care of, however, which is an unbelievably huge help.

    The bay is on a beach that is full of people swimming, diving,snorkelling, name it. It is very warm and pleasant here throughout most of the year...known for its weather!

    This year's storms were abnormal.

  16. Always a pleasure to pop in for a visit Marion!