Thursday, January 28, 2010

DD#15: Soft Eyes...

Even though this would be DD#16, it's DD#15 because I didn't blog yesterday so I guess it'll have to be 90 blogs in 91 days.

Yesterday was consumed with dealing with an aging parent. My mother lives nearby with my sister and two nieces. She's legally blind and uses a wheelchair but so far has been able to transfer from her bed to wheelchair and from wheelchair to bathroom on her own. With a few accommodations, she also sees enough to be able to do small things for herself: microwave prepared food for meals, change her own clothing, take care of her own hygiene, watch her big screen TV, and interact with the family. By doing the work that supported this comfortable, but limited lifestyle, we always thought of these daily tasks as small things which allowed her to be self-sufficient enough not to require skilled nursing so she could continue the sense of independence by living with my sister.

Well, these are NOT small things - they're HUGE things. How do I know this? Because two days ago she had a stroke, fell a couple of times and could no longer transfer to and from her wheelchair. Now we have a BIG problem: Mom has become completely dependent upon someone else to do all of the SMALL tasks she used to perform on her own and is no longer able to live virtually unattended except for the care required to support her independence.

We also noticed increased disorientation, mumbling, and a lack of awareness of the use of her left side, bruises and pain from the falls, and a general inability to function as she had before the stroke/s. None of which portends a sunny outcome.

Let me just say that those of you who have dealt with this situation can attest to the mixed emotions it creates. It's agonizing to witness a failing parent no matter your age. My sister and I have a troubled relationship with our mother. It has been less than we'd like it to be, but we have been dutiful daughters and worked through our old resentments and trauma over our childhood as much as we could. We have provided for her care over the past 15 years of her decline into her current condition. Now it has reached a whole new level of care and we are torn about how to handle it.

Along with my concern for my mother is the blazing heat of my concern for my sister and me. What will we do if there's no assistance for her? How can we pay for her care? What if she lives in this limited capacity for years? What if she passes quickly? How will I feel if I don't do everything possible to make her life comfortable? What would a good daughter do? How would a loving daughter respond?

Fighting among these thoughts is the darker self who says she's already given more than her mother deserved. Why doesn't she just die and relieve us of this horrible responsibility? God! Did I actually think that?!? I'm a horrible person who should be ashamed. She's my mother and she did the best she could! I need to be grateful for everything! The lifelong inner battle over my feelings for my mother has taken on a new intensity.

It has become even more important for me to address these dark thoughts in the light of Divine love. How can I acknowledge the dark thoughts and not let them control me? I can take some of my own lessons and apply them during this challenging time.

I can see my mother with "soft eyes" - from that safer, saner middle ground between the hard edges of love and hate. I can accept that she's in God's hands the same way I am. I can be a model of love and acceptance for my family. I can pray for all of us. I can remember the good things she did for me and forgive and forget the neglect and abuse. I can remember that she truly DID do the best she could and that it was much better than her her parents did for her.

We each have the opportunity to see the events (past and present) in our lives with soft eyes - it's part of how we free ourselves from our old beliefs and fears. It's a good way to create a new paradigm of hope, faith, and trust in the knowledge that we are all connected to the Divine Universe and that we're not in control of anything but our attitude - right now. Just for today I'm choosing to see with soft eyes. Pray for us...

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