I hate leaving Mom in a strange place, commonly referred to as a long-term care facility. I hate leaving her in the care of strangers. I hate saying goodbye. If I could trade places with her, I would in a minute. I’m younger and stronger; I’d survive. I don’t know why, but I thought everything would change now that she’s cared for, but if anything, I’m facing new challenges. I’m further away from her. I can’t protect her. I can’t pick up the phone and hear her voice whenever the spirit moves me. I ache knowing she must be so frightened not knowing anyone or her surroundings. I want things to be like they were before, my happy and healthy family, together. Consciously, I know I can’t turn back the hands of time, but if by some miracle I could, I would not hesitate. Tears fall down my cheeks as I remember how life used to be; no responsibilities, no worries, a life filled with love and compassion. My thoughts are like a whirling dervish; around and around, shouting out at me, and never stopping,
“If you knew what the future was going to bring, would you do anything differently?” The voice screams.
“Of course I would”, I yell out.
I can’t sleep; I barely eat, other than lighting up my trusty nicotine friend (if I could eat the damn things, I would). I try to watch TV, I try to “take my mind off things” (friends repeat over and over); I try and try and try, but can’t come to grips with the fact Mom is changing. Baba is aging. Dad is dead. My entire safety net has holes in it as large as my sofa. I’m barely able to hang on, but I’m afraid to let go. I have no idea how far down the landing is, and should I fall; will I survive the drop?
I don’t want to do this anymore. I don’t want to be the bad guy with Mom. I don’t want the responsibility of making decisions on her behalf, whether it is monetary or personal. I don’t want to sell Mom’s condo. I don’t want Mom to have Alzheimer’s. When I say all of the words out loud, I feel it makes me sound selfish. I admit I’m envious of my friends with their healthy and happy parents. Why can’t it be someone else, I cry. Why does it have to be Mom? I walk into my bedroom. I slowly open my closet and peek upwards. I’ve surrounded myself with items from the past and I’m amazed that I’ve kept these keepsakes. High up on the shelf in my bedroom closet contain,
- My Kanga and Roo stuffed animal (lovingly cared for since I was four years old).
- My Baby Tender love doll; now missing a leg (Mom and Dad brought her back from their one and only vacation alone to Las Vegas when I was six years old).
- Mom’s stuffed animal (poodle dog) she had since she was a child that she passed on to me.
- Four large photo albums that encompass my parents’ lives before they met, their courtship, marriage, moving on to our small family unit with my brother, extended family and too many pictures of me as their first born (I was aptly nicknamed; kid Kodak).
I reach up to take Kanga and Roo into my arms. I hold them close to my heart and squeeze tightly. I inhale the aroma of days gone by and whisper into Kanga’s ear,
“What am I going to do without Mom? Please help me”, I sob.