|My mom with my youngest son - July 2010|
My mom is 81 and it wasn't until 3 months ago that I started to notice that she is now being affected by old age. We talk on the phone and usually she does most of the talking and I listen, but I have started to notice that she does not remember things or she tells me things that I know did not happen. As an example, I told her about our upcoming trip to Washington, D.C. in June. She asked me if I remember when I was a kid and our family went to D.C. I did remember this. It was 1969 and I was 10 years old. That was one of my favorite childhood memories.
She told me that we went to D.C. twice and I was probably too young to remember the other time. I know this isn't true and I believe she has this "fictional" second trip to D.C. mixed up with her trip to D.C. with my dad on their honeymoon.
Then there is the sadness of old friends of hers dying and that her "boyfriend" of a couple of years has health problems. Driving is becoming more and more difficult for her and then there are the memory issues that are typical for a woman her age.
It's hard seeing your parents grow old and it was hard on all of us when my father passed away. It is harder to see my remaining parent deteriorate. We live far apart from each other and have for over 30 years. I fear that in a year or so, she may just give up on herself and then she will go down hill.
The past 10 years have been hard as my only other sibling broke from our family and in essence shunned us. My sister has nothing to do with me or my mom, nor does her husband or 3 daughters. Worse yet, my sister lives in the same area as my mom and she could do so much more than I can do from a distance, but won't. She has chosen to cut us off entirely and she won't acknowledge us.
If you're wondering what happened, none of us knows and I think it is more a mental health issue than anything else. I know one thing for sure, you can't make someone have a relationship with you when they don't want to. So I have given up trying. Yes, I have tried for over 10 years to reach out to my sister and she has pushed me away over and over, so I have finally given up and moved on.
But, for my mother, try as hard as she can, it is almost unbearable for her to have a daughter completely cut her off. Worse yet, not being able to see your 3 granddaughters has been probably the most difficult for my mom to endure. Imagine the Christmases and birthdays that pass by with my mother alone while her daughter, son in law and 3 granddaughters live 10 minutes away.
After all of this time, it has finally affected my mother. No matter how many phone calls I make, nor how many vacation trips I take to New York, no matter how I show my love to my mother, she still mourns for the prodigal daughter and the lost relationship with her and her grandchildren.
I wish with all my heart that I had the kind of relationship with my sister that other women have with their sisters. I look back to my childhood and growing up years and I now see that my sister probably had some problems that got worse as she grew older. Because she does not think there is anything wrong with her, she will never see a therapist. Instead we're the problem. There are situations in our lives that we have to endure because they are out of our control. I'm not giving up but I am letting go.
As to my mother, I can't make up for what my sister and her husband and children have done to her, but I can at least try to be the best daughter I can for her and do whatever I need to do to help her be happy and comfortable. I am loyal and I am the most empathetic person in the world. I love my mom and when she dies someday, I can stand and hold my head high knowing that I was a good daughter and I took care of her and made sure her needs were met. There will be no regrets on that day.