The Circle of Life


“My dear girl, the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through.

If when we talk, I repeat the same thing a thousand times, don’t interrupt to say: “You said the same thing a minute ago”… Just listen, please. Try to remember the times when you were little and I would read the same story night after night until you would fall asleep.

When I don’t want to take a bath, don’t be mad and don’t embarrass me. Remember when I had to run after you making excuses and trying to get you to take a shower when you were just a girl?

When you see how ignorant I am when it comes to new technology, give me the time to learn and don’t look at me that way… remember, honey, I patiently taught you how to do many things like eating appropriately, getting dressed, combing your hair and dealing with life’s issues every day… the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through.

If I occasionally lose track of what we’re talking about, give me the time to remember, and if I can’t, don’t be nervous, impatient or arrogant. Just know in your heart that the most important thing for me is to be with you.

And when my old, tired legs don’t let me move as quickly as before, give me your hand the same way that I offered mine to you when you first walked.

When those days come, don’t feel sad… just be with me, and understand me while I get to the end of my life with love.

I’ll cherish and thank you for the gift of time and joy we shared. With a big smile and the huge love I’ve always had for you, I just want to say, I love you… my darling daughter.”

– Unknown

I read this on Facebook today and cried.  I see myself in this scenario .. in my relationship with my own mother and I pray this won’t happen to me as I age.  Now my mother is past help .. she suffers from Alzheimer’s and rarely recognizes me.  I do know I am guilty of every point listed above and, for that, I am sorry.  I do try, I try so hard to be patient with her over the last 20 years but it was difficult at times.  Now I go and sit with her and she is grateful for the company but really doesn’t realize I’m her daughter.

I do get confused thinking about this because I have always had this unusual relationship with my mother.  In many ways, I was the mother … even though she had a totally different relationship with my sister and my brother.  My mother would lay out all her problems to me to solve rather than be there to support me.  I can’t remember a time when I felt that she took care of me.  My father cared for me when I was small.  To my mother I was always the anchor in her relationship with my dad.  She married him in order to have her other two children supported and she looked at my dad as her meal ticket.  Eventually I became the negotiator in her relationship with my father, I took care of her instead of the other way around.  So yes, there were times I was impatient, arrogant, bitchy and short with her.

My mother has contributed to the person I am.  I am strong and able to function on my own.  I don’t “need” people to solve my problems.  I don’t share my worries or feelings easily.  I will downplay any health concerns because I want to handle it on my own.  I don’t like to appear weak to my family.  I am the mother of my family.  I need to be strong for my children and they need to know they can count on me to be there for them.  My husband and children are my world.  I would do anything for them and would be devastated if they felt I was a burden to them.

Recently my husband’s ex-wife’s husband died.  (Whew … what a sentence.)  He died after suffering from cancer for a year.  He had always had health issues and personal issues.  He was a recovering alcoholic.  Even before his cancer they would pressure my two stepdaughters to take care of things for them.  Now that he has passed away their mother has gone into this “take care of me” mode.  Suddenly she can’t manage her money, take care of her home or her health.  She has now talked her youngest daughter into  selling her condo and buying a house together.  On the surface this looks like a good idea but neither one has equity in their current homes and are taking on a $300,000 mortgage.  The mother is over 60 … how many more years does she expect to work?  She doesn’t have any RRSP’s or savings to draw on once she retires, all she has is a small insurance settlement that won’t last long.  She wants someone to take care of her and she is looking at her daughters as her way out of the responsibility of life.

I don’t want pity from anyone.  I just want to be loved.  There may be a time that my husband and I move in with one of our children but we will want a separate area and I will remain independent.  We would sell our house and put towards the new home (whomever I live with will get part of the inheritance early).   It would be a win win situation.  The six months a year I live there I would help my children any way I could.  I would be an asset and not a liability to my children.  If neither of my children aren’t interested in that arrangement then we will move to a senior’s apartment but I would hate wasting all that money on rent.  I would rather the money end up helping my children in their lives.

I am terrified that I will end up like my mother.  I don’t want to live in a nursing home, alone and confused.  I totally agree with my father, the day I can’t drive anymore is the day I want to die.    I want to be strong, eccentric and loving until the day I die.  I want to be me.