One of mom’s most amazing traits is her flexibility and willingness to change. Mom was a stay-at-home mom for many, many years and gradually entered the workforce later in our childhood. Later in our early adulthood, needing money but balanced with wanting to be an available mom/grandma, mom worked for temp agencies…a lot. This is in no way a knock against temp agencies, but she was a skilled bookkeeper, pianist, sales-person, special needs caregiver, florist, business owner, and general laborer…she could have found a more solid, stable career with benefits and retirement, but she wanted her options open for her kids and grandkids. Day-in and day-out, mom changed temp locations, one day doing security, the next working in a florist shop, the next making boxes at a factory…not complaining. She was offered many permanent jobs by her temp employers, but passed in lieu of wanting to be there for us. Mom is a very caring and flexible person…extremely so.
In many ways she learned this sacrificial nature from my Grandma Applegate, whom I have mentioned before and will address in detail in a near future piece. Grandma Applegate was her ex-step-mother-in-law (quite a mouthful), and she made a tremendously positive impression on mom. Here are a couple pictures of this gem of a lady. 🙂
Mom’s health continues a slow, non-temporary change in the wrong direction these days. She is happy and eats well, which brings us tempered joy. Most of the stuff that plagued her is “better”, mainly because she is wearing down and somewhat because of meds. She is very iffy on walking and seldom, if ever, tickles the ivories any more. We would really like to think that her decline is just over-medication, but it seems more and more likely that it is just the stinking disease….the the medical team concurs with this diagnosis.
Regardless, I had a really nice visit yesterday. 🙂 She smiles a lot and is happy even though she would like to be caring for us somehow, but can’t. She talks in a language that I only partially understand, but I am pretty good at responding to the what can be responded to. At one point yesterday, I accidentally kicked mom’s foot trying to get my chair out from under the table and she exclaimed “If you hit me in the boot again, I will give you the boot” and shook her fist at me. 🙂 She’s still got it!
Six months in, several of the Sweet 17 (a handful of originals who are left…and their replacements) are also wearing down. One of mom’s favorites is full-time in a wheelchair now and is refusing to eat. Change is imminent for this princess. 🙁 One of the newbies, at a spring chicken-esque 95 years young, is also declining quickly. Waves of change seem to happen almost daily at the memory unit.
Change is hard, whether in health, in jobs, or in life in general. My employer, the wonderful non-profit SeniorAge Area Agency on Aging, does their utmost best to help employees and customers/friends navigate the challenges (and opportunities) of change. A few short years ago, when I bit the bullet and changed from working in education to working with seniors, little did I realize how this change prepared me for these days! Part of the values statement of SeniorAge is a simple acknowledgement that change is real and something to tackle and embrace. “We value change. We believe our future is better than our past.” Indeed!
Truth told, it is gut-wrenchingly hard to embrace mom’s change right now, but the promise that better days are to come brings peace and unexplained joy. Mom has had a change-filled, challenging but loving and joyful past, but the glorious days of spreading her metaphorical wings to fly to heaven are ahead. Until then we march on, we advocate (this one is a big one this week!), we serve, we pray for peace and a cure, we give, and we love them like they are while we gaze heavenward all the while.