Monday, May 09, 2005

Mothers and Mothers-in-Law

My mother is suffering from Alzheimer's disease. When I visit her she can't remember who I am or why I am there. Most of the time she simply ignores me. I avoid making in person visits to see her even though she is only about two hours away.

I try to talk to her on the phone as often as I can, and I pretend that it doesn't bother me that she really doesn't know who I am any more. I try to keep the conversations light and on topics I know won't get her riled up. She loves to talk about her memories of growing up. She loves to talk about her sons. Somehow her memories of me are in that part of her brain that the disease has taken from her.

The thing is I never really had a close relationship with my mom. I was a daddies girl until dad died when I was 13. After that I fought really hard against needing my mom, because she seemed to be so consumed by the problems of the other people in my family. I wonder why now I am so upset that mom doesn't remember me?

I am learning how to love my mother in a whole new way. It isn't an easy lesson, and it takes a lot of humility.

My mother-in-law, and I never really had a very good relationship until the last few years. When our fifth child was born, about the time my MIL retired, she had the time to watch over our angel baby for us, and I needed to be out doing things like volunteering etc, for my own sanity. The relationship worked wonderfully. When I went back to work full time my MIL was always there to fill in and help out, though we never asked her to do full time child care. I think My MIL doesn't have enough to do at home all day. She keeps asking me to bring her laundry to do. Don't you love having someone around who wants to do your laundry? I know I do.

She had a small stroke a month ago, and is confined to her house. I took her to the Dr. and the store today. She was so appreciative. I think she is ready to be out and about. The next task is to help her get her license renewed, it lapsed because of her stroke and she has to take a driving test to get it back. She is a bit nervous, but I promised I would take her to get it done.

It makes me feel better to have my MIL to fuss over since my mom doesn't allow me to do that for her. Somehow it is making the transition easier. She is helping me to see that some of the difficulty is part of the aging process and has nothing to do with my difficult relationship with my mom.

1 comment:

Suzanne said...

It does help. I know the most painful part of losing my mother was also the idea that she seemed to have lost me, only toward the end, I realized that she at least knew when someone who she loved or loved her was nearby, she noticed and seemed happy in some little way. I found some peace in that.
It is funny you see the connection with your Mom-in-law and how that can help ease the transition. After mom died, I had this little inkling down deep that I would be with my father until his passing.
I mean it could have gotten so bad that he would have to go somewhere, you know where I could not lift him, etc? God worked that out. You see, like your mother, I was not as close to my father, so I guess God gave me the opportunity to get close to him rather I thought I could do it or not and it worked out. I miss him incredibly sometimes now, however, I am so glad that we worked that out and became close in times stranger than I thought could or would be possible. At any rate, God helps it all work out and the healing begins!