It's hard to believe that it's been over a month since I've updated this journal. So much for my promise to keep this current.
What's been happening? Wow, so much, actually. Where to begin?
Well, first, I went to Montreal on August 20 to go see my mom. I hadn't seen her since December 2009, much too long. Because the budget was tight, I decided to drive there rather than fly. I left at 11:30 PM on Thursday night and took my time. I drove slightly above the speed limit (thankfully, because the cops were out in force in NY State), and even took a nap around 4 AM once I got into NY State from New Jersey. Made it to Montreal around 11:00 AM. Yeah, it’s a long drive, but gone are the days when I’d feel confident (stupid?) enough to drive 80 MPH the entire way, and forgo naps and bathroom breaks. My all-time best was 9 hours, about ten years ago, but I arrived in Montreal cranky and exhausted.
Anyway, seeing Mom after nine months was a bit of a shock. My, how she’d changed: she had lost more weight, and she looked old. To me, anyway. Mom has always looked younger than her real age, and that will probably never change, but in my mind I still picture her from when I was a teenager, so seeing her get older and older is not at all to my liking.
When I walked in to her apartment, she was so happy to see me. Poor thing began to cry, and she gave me the tightest hug she could. It felt good wrapping my arms around her. I held her for what seemed like an eternity…I know there will come a time when I won’t be able to do this anymore. It’s the simple things in life that often matter most.
I won’t go through each and every thing we did, but we had a good week. Overall, she seemed in good spirits, and in good health. I think she tired herself out on Saturday by going to the mall and insisting on walking throughout, and by Sunday, she was exhausted. So Sunday and Monday (yup, both days), she stayed in bed and slept. The nurses arranged for her meal trays to be brought up to her. I spent part of those days with her, then I’d go back to my hotel or I’d go run errands while she slept. By Tuesday, she was feeling much better, which was good because that was the day of her field trip: a cruise on the St. Lawrence River. It was too late for me to join them, so off she went for the day –paired up with her good friend Mme. Lechasseur—while I took the metro into Montreal and did some shopping.
Surprisingly for August, the weather the entire week was cold and gray. It rained almost every day. On Wednesday, Mom was feeling well enough to go to the cemetary to visit Dad. The following is true: on our way to the cemetary, which is about 40 minutes from Mom’s place, it began to rain. I was a bit disappointed because neither of us had an umbrella and I didn’t think Mom would be too keen on standing in the rain. But onward we went. As we got closer to the cemetary, the rain began to subside. By the time we had parked the car in the cemetary and got out, the rain had completely stopped. In fact, there had been NO RAIN in the part of the cemetary where Dad is…everything was dry and Mom was able to sit on a nearby bench without worrying about getting her clothes wet. She sat down and talked with Dad for a little while. Now here’s the unbelievable part…as soon as we got back in the car and drove away, it began to rain once again! We couldn’t have timed this better had we tried.
The rest of the week was just terrific: driving around, going shopping, going out to eat, and just enjoying my time with Mom. When it was time for me to leave on Thursday evening, it was difficult. So, around 4:45 PM, I walked Mom down to the dining room and said goodbye. She was on her way to have dinner, and I was heading to the hotel to sleep for a few hours before getting on the road around midnight. I was very close to tears, and I know Mom was very sad. The goodbyes were quick and tearless.
It’s very difficult living 650 miles away…I know so many people who live close to their parents. I wish I could but I don’t have that luxury. Mom needs to be a monitored environment, but her budget can only allow the costs of assisted living found in Canada. Her monthly rent, which includes two meals a day and 24/7 medical supervision, is around $1600. Here in the States, it would cost at least twice that amount. There are sacrifices in life…this one isn’t all that dramatic, but it doesn’t make the pain of not having my mother physically close to me any easier.
In addition to all this, there’s evidence of Mom’s slow mental decline. Granted, she’s 85, but more and more often, she forgets basic things. Within the last year, when she’s tired or very agitated, she forgets basic words and has much difficulty in putting sentences together. There have been times when phone conversations have been frustrating for the both of us…she tries to get the word out, but it’s like her brain won’t get in gear…it’s blank and she can’t come up with the word at all. Other times, it’s the completely wrong word.
Also, within the last month, she’s twice forgotten about where she put her money. She called me in a panic each time, thinking someone had come into her apartment and stolen her money. The first time, she’d lost track of a couple of purchases she’d made. The second time, just a couple of days ago, she’d forgotten that she had hidden it upon her arrival home.
This is very difficult for me to write…because, in its own way, it’s an admission, and a realization, that I’m slowly losing my mother. I pray so hard that she doesn’t completely lose her faculties. I’ll love her no matter what happens, obviously, but I don’t want Mom to end up just being a shell of a person, with no discernable traits of the fun, loving, vibrant mother she’s been to me all my life. Not that I wish this on others, but this is supposed to happen only to other people’s parents, isn’t it?
I’m writing this at work, and now I’m crying at my desk. Lovely.
I had hoped to write about other things, but I'm too tired now. Click on the cut for some pics. ( Read more... )