What will Mom think when we broach this subject? That’s the question my brothers and I had when we discussed having ‘the talk’ with her. The talk is, of course about having someone assist her at home. About having her spend time at the senior center. (What? Mom? A senior? Oh wait. . .she is eighty-five years old). The talk that implicitly acknowledges that she is mortal. That we cannot pretend any longer. We can’t pretend that mom will always be there to make us peanut butter sandwiches when we come in from the cold, from playing football. Those years are long gone. But if you don’t address it directly, you hold on to a thread of that life, of that time. But that time is gone.
So what were we afraid of? What would Mom think of us? What would Mom think of her own life? What would Mom think we were trying to do?
In our extended family, we have seen the best and worst of dealing with seniors in their golden years. We have seen people with Florence Nightingale-esque, selfless giving and sharing, doing everything possible to make the final years of their loved ones as comfortable and happy as possible. We have also seen those that resembled vultures.
Would Mom think we were vultures, trying to ‘get at’ the inheritance early? Would she see us as Florence Nightingales? With three boys, that one is unlikely. . .but what would she think?
Facing this question, we were naive. We thought, since we knew our motives were pure and driven only by the need for Mom to be safe and healthy, she would surely see it that way. I’m not sure we were correct. “Why are you doing this to me?” was the delayed reaction. She is holding on to the “I-can-take-care-of-everything-myself” stance. Bravo for her and her independence. But she can’t walk on her own. She needs help. But is that my decision to make?
When we were young boys, if we were at the neighborhood store and Mom saw someone who was struggling with bags, she would say “go help that poor woman.” When a neighbor lost a loved-one, she would have us help the family any way we could. Mow the lawn. Walk the dog. Whatever. Now that she was the ‘older woman struggling with her bags,’ surely she would understand that her well-raised boys were there to help her. Right?
We needed to allow her the full authority to make the final decisions to move forward. Even though it scared us, we would not force the issue (at least not yet). We were sure she would see the wisdom of putting things in place for her to be able to move or to receive services, should the need arise. At the present, we’re S L O W L Y walking through the process of having her enrolled in a program that will help her, monthly, with basics. She is a strong-willed woman who is proud of her home. She needs to see all the options.
We’ll keep things moving. Hopefully.