Call me slow, but it’s just settling in that I have tremendous guilt for wanting to spend only limited time with my mother. It’s very uncomfortable to repeatedly sit with the verbal onslaught of someone’s dialogue regarding nothing that has to do with anything surrounding their own situation, or reality. I should be able to stand up to the gale of mom’s tsunamis with a smile and low blood pressure, but I am not that strong. Yes, I surf the waves in the moment, but there is a toll. Realizing this helps.
My mom launched me on:
- Sushi making.
- Sewing for my children with the machine she and dad bought me as a high school graduation gift. This, of course, 33 years later has turned into a fabric acquisition problem on my part, but better fabric than clothes or cars.
- Cooking. I still use her recipes, lamb shanks, Greek chicken, and stewed chicken wings in particular.
- Appreciating both typesetting and keyboarding, both of which I took in high school. At her suggestion, I dropped the keyboarding (typing) class after I memorized the keyboard!
- Target shooting, with a lecture about gun safety, before sending me out to my dad, who taught me how to accurately use a .22 rifle in regards to rabbits. Something I enjoy doing to this day.
- Horseback riding.
- Singing, which I still do with abandon and, from time to time, am paid for.
- Swimming, the only sport in which I am proficient.
As a child I was my parent’s side kick, attending most of their social functions. This fostered my early comfort with adults, and formed both who I am as a person, and a parent. Mom was a cheerleader, helper, and support system to me and my first husband as we brought each of our three daughters home after their births. We spent family time together with my children at the summer camp where DH and I grew up.
The person who guided, taught, was present and pleasant for all of the above is gone. The person who remains shows some resemblance of my mother, her greeting, laugh, smile, and old stories, but the reality is, the mama who raised and protected me has left. The person who remains isn’t someone I enjoy hanging out with, and haven’t for, if I’m really honest, more than a decade.Ten years ago I thought her behavior was out of control. Today I understand dementia is driving everything. It’s best that I stop ascribing her past personality and abilities to who is here now. They are the same person, yet not at all.