A Rose Has Only So Many Petals

With another Mother’s Day upon us, it is natural to think about all the mothers you know in your life. 

Obviously, the one and only mother who brought you into this world.  Then there is your wife who is the mother of your children.  Your sister who is the mother of your nephews and nieces.  Your grandmother who is the mother of your mother.  And your mother-in-law who is like a mother.

I want to focus on my mother-in-law who is going through a challenging stretch in her 75th year of life.

Up until a few months ago, she began slowing down.  It began with her no longer driving her car, voluntarily losing some independence.

Then she began needing to use a cane to balance herself.

More recently, she broke her wrist and had trouble with a nerve disorder in her legs causing her unable to move her own weight which led to falls and ambulance trips to emergency rooms.

With each decline in mobility comes the slap in the face reality that this person, the matriarch of my wife’s family, the dynamic personality that’s the life of the party, is facing mortality.

As of this writing, she is slowly regaining her strength in a rehabilitative center.  But she still can’t walk under her own power even with a walker.

For weeks our family has researched and visited Mom’s future living conditions.  I have taken a crash course on the variety of senior care living options available:  assisted-living, board and care, skilled nursing, nursing home, continuing care retirement communities, and nursing care at home.

A family’s biggest hurdle is accepting the harsh reality that whatever the option chosen, paying for it will vacuum up a lifetime of financial equity in a matter of a few years.

After settling on assisted-living as the best fit for her, my wife and I visited Mom armed with the glossy brochures of smiling, active seniors (the type who really don’t live in these places), and pep talks that the next place where she lives won’t be the last place where she will live. 

Once our sales pitch was over (feeling like surrogate representatives of these facilities),

Mom decided that she didn’t want to go to such places.  She wants to try to live with her sister who may or may not be capable of taking care of her needs.

Despite our reservations, we can’t force her into an assisted-living facility.  She has to want to do it under her own power for while her body is failing her, her mind remains solid.

Ultimately, the decision rests with her even if it may not be the best decision.  Part of honoring a mother on Mother’ Day beyond the material items such as flowers, balloons and Hallmark greetings is honoring her wishes. 

And who knows how many more Mother’s Days there will be with her?  A rose has only so many petals.

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