|Mom and I spent about four hours together this afternoon; we went to her doctor and had lunch out afterwards. I almost always drive these days.
When she went to the eye doctor last week, Mom discovered her cataracts were worse than she thought--but not so bad as to have surgery right away, according to her report of the situation to me.
I found out later that she cried through the appointment while she had me wait in the outer office. This was the second doctor's appointment in one week in which Mom received reports of an ill health situation, serious enough for her to consider precarious surgery. She and her doctor had had a discussion that forced her to realize that life is a passing fancy, and tomorrows have no guarantee.
She's begun to ask me questions about printed material and signs on the road she can't make out. She is aware of what she isn't aware of. Sometimes her questions jar me into a reality check myself.
Mom's daily household routine is pretty consistent, regular bland meals every few hours to go with the medications she needs Also, she works puzzles--jigsaw, word searches,and reads with a genuine spiritual curiosity about the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. She studied religion with me in parochial school, but now she seaches for answers to more private issues. A dear friend from the parish has been visiting at her home almost every Sunday to bring the communion host to her. Mary has been Mom's friend and female deacon since the old stone building with a lofty ceiling building caused more aches and pains than inspiration. When Mass disappeared from Mom's weekly routine, I knew her age was taking its toll.
The church building for mass is beautiful, windows of stained glass, statues painted most life-like. I grew to adulthood with the eyes of those statues staring into my heart and soul. Because I was baptized at St. Thomas in 1955, the building has history for me too, but it's not the same. It seems to me that very old, cold, and drafty edifices, despite their beauty, prove impractical for spiritual meditation. While I use my own brand of logic, it had very little to do with catechism class instruction. Mom and I are very different spiritually, but we try not to tread on each other's beliefs. This has been accomplished only with lots of years of patient practice.
"I came home from church after the gospel because my back was hurting and I was just so cold. I was sitting in the area I prefer, but there was such a draft. I'm still cold." She looked pale and was still shivering. Usually she would already have been drinking coffee to warm her from inside.
I felt her hands. The cold clamminess belied a chill to the bone. She had dressed in layers, which we agree is the most effcient way to dress warmly when the climate turns to winter. Older people often develop intense sensitivity to temperature extremes. Mom was beaten by the elements that day.
Senior citizens need to pre-plan for the heat of summer, as well as winter's deep chill. If they don't plan for themselves, someone should keep them aware of weather. Without a daily commute to a job, people get accustomed to interior thermostat controlled life. The older Mom gets, the more temperature extremes inundate her ability to maintain a seasonal routine Anyone who gets too hot, too fast, become get dehydrated, and pass without much warning. I try to keep up with her concepts as well as whatever is actually happening.
Returning to a vehicular kiln during the "dog days of summer" is an exhausting circumstance, and potentially dangerous to everyone, especially the very old and very young. Every summer our news reports that a child has somehow been left unattended in a closed up car, resulting in the ultimate tragedy. Do we live so much life in our days, that we forget those we love? It happens. Our technology, when combined with the multi-tasking life we race through daily, has produced in our society, the too frequent baked baby. I don't want to believe it happens, but it makes the news reports almost every summer now. Technology does indeed, extract the highest of costs.
Control of our environment must be one of our most basic needs. We need many types of shelter. Now, we might consider our cars as shelter. Some come to call a car home as well. The resourceful figure out how to make it to the other side of tough times.
Being in, or passing through temperature extremes, can cause serious physical harm, to the point of the complete destruction of the human body. Although an inevitablity, the visit of the Grim Reeper leaves those left behind sorrowful, no matter if the loss is of one who is young or mature with a wealth of life experiences. Sometimes, I miss Mom already.
Only our spiritual consciousness, our soul, will travel beyond this realm, according to our perserverence to ethics and morals and the kind and unkind deeds we have done while on earth. That's what I choose to believe. I wouldn't try to teach my personal beliefs to anyone else. I think each person needs to grow their own beliefs from their own experiences to know their own unique soul.
Humans crave the comfort that religion can provide. Multitudes of different religions and occurences throughout history demonstrate our need for worldly hope and faith. Going to church fills that need for some, while others consider attendance an obligation. Despite the variety among religious sects, we all seek knowledge beyond our awareness. Humans want and need comfort. We want and need compassion and love too. Those concepts are what make life worth living.
Mother's main issue about life now is that she is able to maintain her independence. She lives alone. I live alone, about a block west of her house. This works out good for me as well as for her. I am traveling down my own road of independence. As much as I love my mother, I need to know and love myself too. But our lives are interconnected daily, whether we see each other, speak on the phone, or pursue our own necessities.
I guess most mothers experience a rebellious child period sometimes in their lives. It's been a sort of endless cycle with the two of us: two opinionated women with different experiences are bound to disagree at times. We've both made mistakes over the years. We're finally at a place where we don't pick at each other. We accept one another for who we each are, separately. This has proven the most difficult of processes, but provides bonding, ironically.
In my acceptance of who she is these days, I also accept that she sometimes forgets things, and has bad pains that make her grouchy. Sometimes, she talks to me like I'm an adolescent instead of a grown, married, divorced, and independent woman. My childhood memories undoubtedly color her comments, usually to my disadvantage. I really try not to bring up old wounds, but at times my emotional hurt is so strong that I lash out before I can censure myself. I have older aches and pains too, but if she sees them she doesn't acknowledge. In that way, I feel like she'll never acknowledge me as the adult I know I am. It hurts me, but maybe it's not her fault. Placing blame and acknowlegding errors are like night and day. They just don't happen together, or I can't remember when they have in my life.
I don't have to bite my tongue that often. But I do literally put my teeth gently against my tongue and take a very deep breath on some occasions.
So now I ask myself, "Is this worth fighting over?" before I reopen a touchy subject. I don't tell her what to do. She's a big girl, and so am I. I just wish that once, she'd tell me.