Sunday, February 27, 2011

Questions without Answers

"I don't want to be here. Why am I here?" It is a question, in a variety of forms, that I must seek to answer almost every day. And it is a question that has no answers.

Most of the time I merely try to change the subject. Sometimes, I am forced to face it head on. "Mom, you are 93. Most of your friends are not here now, and many are not here on a permanent basis. Those who can do so, are in Florida, and those who are here don't have the energy to keep up with you. They want to stay close to home. I wish I could tell you what you want to hear."

I say these things not to be cruel, and not even to try to explain the realities. I understand that conversations dissolve in her mind almost the moment they are completed. I think I say what I do because sometimes I just have to. I can't think of anything else .

It is the relentlessness that is often the hardest. If there were only some moments when frantic didn't appear. If she could just rest, so that those around her could. But that will never happen. This disease does not take days off.

Some days recently have been harder than others. There was a visit to the emergency room in the middle of the night, after receiving a somewhat desperate sounding call from one charged with her care on the weekends. After this episode passed, it was followed in rapid succession by one of my mom's calls to the police, seeking their help for the intruder in her bedroom. By the end of last week, a frazzled caretaker had decided she needed to look elsewhere for employment. For her, the relentlessness had proven overwhelming. How could one blame her.

The transition to someone new caused all of us great concern. But, mainly, this weekend has been free of the melodrama we feared. Yet, with each ring of the phone, I check to see from where the call emanates. My pulse quickens when I read those familiar numbers.

We have the wonderful good fortune that my mom's principal caretaker has been, and continues to be, someone who has an unending capacity to accept my mom with her shortcomings. One needs a degree in psychology, a mind that is willing to absorb slings and arrows, a heart that is full with compassion, and a bottomless well of patience to be a successful guardian for those like my mom.

So, when my mom says she doesn't want to be here, I silently say to myself how thankful I am that she can remain where she is. I know there is no better alternative, for her and for those who love her.

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