Today I look forward to visiting my mom, who as I have mentioned before, is in a group home across town. She lives with a family that has six children and two other "residents." All those people give her the attention and care she needs to stimulate her mind and nourish her body. She can walk around as she wishes and go outside to sit in the sun on bleak mornings. Mom used to be in a giant care facility that tried to take care of her, but with so many other people in need and regulatory laws, she was falling through the cracks....being left alone when she needed attention. For one person to take care of her is a full time job for that person. You'd think one tiny lady wouldn't need that much, but she works at a pace that makes a snail look like a NASCAR racer. When she lived with us, a normal morning took three hours to get her to the breakfast table. In the large facility, so many people who not only were tasked to bathe, dress and feed her, but also to maintain the building as well as her specific needs, were different every day. Were different every shift. Nobody had a clue whether she ate anything, drank anything, liked anything or was even wearing her clothes. She had disappeared into a wandering world of oversight, dormant mind and diminishing health. In the group home, the children entertain her with their antics, Lori the mother fixes the food and knows what she likes to eat, so important when capacity is diminished. Lori, the mother, knows to give her water to drink, something that takes constant prodding. Lori knows when to expect bathroom issues to maintain continance. The elder children and her husband assist Lori when she needs it by watching over the elderly while Lori runs to the drug store or grocery store.
It's a full time job for Lori, who though I tell her constantly, has no idea how grateful my whole family is that we have her.
My mother feared taking our lives from us by burdening us with her aging issues, which none of us can control. Lori was born to be a caregiver and her life revolves around her "residents." Her parents were caregivers, had elderly people in their home her whole childhood. She thinks of all her residents as the grandparents and cares for them in a way our society has bypassed.
Why some of us who are considered "senior citizens" are more capable than others to care for our own parents, simultaneiously to care for our own grandchildren who are not mainstream is an enigma. There is a resentment issue involved that I didn't expect. It's humiliating for the parent to be cared for by the "child." It's resentment by the grandchild to be cared for by the grandparent. Everybody wants things to happen in the correct order. Today it's a big bag of conflict and everybody loses. There is a special place in heaven for people who manage to sustain in a situation like this.
My mother is maybe happier than any time in her life. That's because of Lori. I'm as happy as I have ever been in my life. That's because of Lori. My family is as happy as they've been in their lives. That has a lot to do with Lori.
Our family goes with us on our travels through life. Making it nurturing as well as free of conflict takes a lifetime of attentiveness. It would be a shame to spend all that time and realize we've lost the only thing that we every really had.