The Graying of the Matter

WORDS FROM W.W. April 12, 2012

There is no easy way to growing older. We can talk about getting wiser, but the arthritis often dulls our sense of sharpness. We can talk about maturity, but the increase in the number of pill bottles in our medicine cabinet seems to go with it. We can talk about the glory days of retirement, but the “getting re-tired” every day is a footnote to that page of our life.
And then there is the struggle associated with seeing your parents in the winter of their lives. I’m back in Ohio for a couple of weeks visiting my mom and dad. My mom spent the past five months in a full care center, until my Dad decided he was going to bring her back home and have home health care nurses come each day to provide six to eight hours of care. He and my sister are filling in the gaps. It’s costly, and has its hard moments, but Dad seems to be much happier that his soul mate is back with him at home.
My mom has a form of Parkinson’s that significantly reduces her ability to communicate and to comprehend. This morning she asked me where I stayed last night. I told her the guest bedroom, and she responded “Where’s that at?”
But at other times she seems to mostly understand what is going on!
It is a tough part of many tough elements in the aging process. She is partially with it and partially not with it. Each question…each conversation…each facial expression…carries with it the question…”Is she aware or not aware?”
My mom still gives me “the look”, the look that makes me search back over what I’ve said like a kid who has just unknowingly spilled the beans about a transgression he thought would never have to be revealed. But now “the look” is filled with confusion and disconnection.
In many ways it would be easier if Mom was totally not there or totally there. There would be no guessing and uncertainty. Each moment would be pre-defined.
Her “graying” brings pauses in the conversation. I’m asking myself “Did she understand? Is she searching for a response?”
I noticed during my last visit in December that a couple of the nurses erroneously thought that she had a hearing problem. My mom’s hearing is 20/20! I know that’s a vision calculation, but that’s the best way I can let you know that she hears everything…even when you’re whispering. With the nurses her lack of giving a timely answer was simply due to her trying to connect the dots in her mind.
While I’m here I’m sure that I will have some good, but brief, glimpses of conversation with her, but also some awkward pauses. The awkward pauses will bring me back to my childhood moments when it was best to not say anything and just listen.
And I’ll treasure the moments…the grayness…the uncertainty!

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2 Comments on “The Graying of the Matter”

  1. chris Says:

    Pastor Bill, I am with you here, thank you so much for sharing – what a blessing to be there and experience this with your mom. Savor, sit and talk, take photos, tell stories……

  2. Steve Wamberg Says:

    Amen, brother!

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