Weirdest thing happened this weekend, I really thought my mom could die.  She was very sick, beyond her “attention” type of sick.  I mean really sick.  I spent the entire weekend tending to her, changing her bed linen, getting her in and out of the shower, and settling her with meds, food, drink and stories.  I was sure this was the end. she was trembling so bad, the look on her face scared me.  I got her another blanket, more meds and a hot compress for her heat which seemed to work.  She was in and out of fever and it wasn’t until my aunt called that I learned mom had an infection she was being treated for. Why the eff didn’t she tell me that?  Two and half days she stayed in bed sick as I took on the role of nurse.  Last night before I went to bed I checked on her.  I just looked at her, trying to decide if she was breathing or not.  I kind of figured she was because I can’t imagine her checking out with some kind of tearful drama as her last performance, or at least I was hoping she wouldn’t check out without a fight and me by her side.   I detected her chest slightly heaving and was relieved to see she was alive, just sleeping.  Whew!  I stood over her looking down at her face.  Mom has many faces when she’s up and around.  There’s the happy-silly face that we catch a rare glimpse of every so often, then there’s the everything-is-my-business face that I see more often than I’d like.  The I-think-I-know-it-all face I see on a regular basis and of course the award-winning pissed-off face that rally’s for second place with the I’m-lying face and I’ll-tell-you-what-to-do face, I see every single day.  First place is the I’m-giving-you-the-silent-treatment face that is louder than anything she could ever vocalize.  But, when she’s sick, and all the faces are stripped away, that’s when I see the raw her.  That’s the person I miss the most.  The person with the ‘mom’ face.  She looks old and vulnerable to me when she’s sick and her guard is down.  I think that’s what scares me the most.  I’ve been putting up with faces for so long, I don’t really know how to interact with mom, raw.  She seems so frail and delicate that I don’t even know how to handle caring for her. I gave in to her fighting for handicap equality long ago.  When her handicap gets the best of her, and she gives in to it, I have a hard time looking at her as disabled.  Her handicap never got in the way of anything she ever wanted to do.  She would adapt and overcome and get whatever she had in mind done.  Because of that, I never saw her as disabled.  Does that make sense?  I think all the faces keep her alive, young at heart, and going.

Just before I left for work, I checked on her, still asleep but I woke her up to see
if she needed anything. She looked 100% better and said she felt much better as
well.  She said today she will get up.  I was happy she was feeling better. 

I suspect it’s just a matter of time before we are back to ‘faces’ again, which I now
believe are just a distraction so the world, including herself, doesn’t see just
the raw her.  It’s her way of staying strong and vibrant and making sure the universe hears what she has to say… and she has a lot to say!

I wish she would embrace and enjoy her golden years.  It’s almost as if she feels if she fights it, it’ll go away and she’ll be young and happy again.  She hangs up pictures of her and my dad in their twenties.  I see her look at old photos and light up; then I see her look in the mirror and get angry.  It has to be tough when you don’t accept growing old.  I tell her she’s beautiful, still.  She tells me to go away.  I don’t know how to reach her, I don’t know if she wants to be reached.

Caring for an elderly parent is exhausting physically, mentally and emotionally.  It selfishly seems so unfair to me.  I’m the glue. Mom is a lot of work, 24/7.  She is demanding and stubborn.  Sometimes I’m the scapegoat, because I’m there.  What happens when the glue comes unglued?  It’s hard to talk to her about it, but the truth is, she needs more help than I can give.  She’s in denial and doesn’t want to hear the truth.  Sometimes the truth hurts and is hard to hear, but in the end the truth prevails and always come out.  It’s what you choose to do with the truth that makes all the difference. 

Maybe I should just borrow a face.