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Caregivers Who Have Lost Someone
Yesterday I had an experience that brought up not a memory, really, but that simultaneous feeling of sadness and joy that comes with remembering and dwelling for a bit in the land of "what if" instead of "what is".
My mom was a CNA for 35 years. She loved her work and was an excellent caregiver. She would be so proud of my daughter, who is interested in going into the nursing field. Before making that decision, she has decided to take CNA training and work in that arena first. She is halfway through the coursework, and is enjoying it immensely. Her desire is to work with geriatric and elderly hospice patients. My daughter has a real heart for the elderly, and is very nurturing toward them. She is much like my mother in many ways.
Yesterday my daughter related a funny story that took place during one of her training sessions that was so much like something my mom would have gotten a chuckle out of. I am laughing and teary-eyed today as I think of how this common link would have been so fun for my mom and my daughter, had my mom still been here, and if she had not been afflicted with dementia. Even in her last stages Mom retained her sense of nurturing and what I think of as her "hospital humor", even when she forgot her time as a CNA. Even though many things have changed, there are many areas that have remained the same. I think they would have loved talking and relating to each other. When I heard that story yesterday I immediately thought of how Mom would have laughed at it and would have totally "got it".
Anyone else ever have this kind of experience? I know I'll be okay, but this has just hit me today and I wanted to share it. Thanks for listening!
deb, it's so nice that you are able to see parts of your mom in your daughter. You know what else is special... that you loved and appreciated your mom and even though she is gone, you have positive memories and relatable experiences. I think it is a gift we are able to share with our children when our parents had a great sense of humor or had other traits that helped them in life and we now can point that out to our children.
For some strange reason, one of the other online groups I am on has gotten into this mother bashing thread. I try to just skim through it and not write anything, but it just reminds me of something my mom used to say (even with dementia). She would say, "Isn't is great we like the same things and we get along so well? Some mothers and daughters are at constant war, but not us."
I didn't think much of the statement back then, but now when I hear the anger and pain of other situations, I am now thinking mom was right. There are many of us on alz that took care of our parents in a loving, kind and thoughtful way. We learned how to talk to them in whatever condition they were in and we did what was best to make their life and our manageable while dealing with the disease.
I think as time passes, the good times we had are far more prominent then the rough times. It's only been six months since my mom passed and I am still very emotional, but like you, I see many of the "what ifs," but I look at them more as a thanks mom.
Beautifully said, Rocky.
My daughter always had a strong bond with both of her grandmothers. Even when she and I were experiencing a rough patch in our relationship, she continued to visit, call, and send cards to my mom and my mother-in-law. Recently she shared with me that when my mom passed away, she sought out and joined an online bereavement support group, which has helped her tremendously in this time of grief.
This weekend has been full of reminders. Yesterday I cleaned out some areas in my house and car I haven't addressed in months. You know how it is...that little box of toiletries you haven't used in a year, so why is it still hanging around? The extra gauze and steri-strips from a surgery performed over a year ago, and the lotion you bought that didn't work well, but can't stand the idea of waste, so there it all sits. Yesterday I purged everything, and in doing so, came across some items I used for my mom. There was the dry-mouth gel I'd purchased when her dentist recommended it, the waterless shampoo and body wash, and other little things I had on hand for her use. She lived in a facility, but I kept things at my home in case she ran out, and there were items I took on each visit (like the dry mouth gel) to take care of myself. Her half-used toothpastes and other toiletries were tossed out. Throwing away these things brought more mixed feelings of sorrow and release.
I even found one of Mom's old eyebrow pencils! She had almost no eyebrows, and always used pencil to fill them in. During the middle stages when she was losing the ability to put on makeup, she still used one of those pencils, which I provided for her. But instead of lightly filling in so that they looked natural, Mom used a heavy hand to draw on her eyebrows an angle that gave her "angry eyes". I was asked after visits or when seeing pictures of her, "What's wrong with Grandma's eyebrows?" With her glasses and short hair that often puffed out on the sides, my daughter once observed, "She looks like Maxine from the Hallmark cards." Mom was also a big "Maxine" fan and went through a phase where we all got those cards, so this fit perfectly! Just finding that eyebrow pencil brought back so many fun memories!
Coming up to 7 months and I am still throwing things out. Funny you mention the toothpaste Deb. I saved 3 tubes of mom's and when my daughter said she needed toothpaste, I gave her one. I'm not one to waste since that's how I was brought up. Heck, we all know when the shampoo only has a little left, don't we all add water, shake it up and finish off the last bit? Anyway, my daughter said she didn't like that brand and I figured it wasn't fair to make her use it, so back in the cabinet it went. I don't like the brand either so perhaps I will put those tubes in a bag to be donated to a women's shelter or something. Not sure if they would want it either, but then they could throw them away if not.
Also, mom loved makeup and yes, I know the eyebrow pencil game well. When I first moved my mom here, she was able to do her own makeup. As the years passed she was not, but she did have the helpers at her community help her with her blush and lipstick. Each time I moved mom to a different community, I got rid of more and more makeup until there was just enough for her to see on her bathroom sink. Mom liked all her stuff out in the open. When she passed, I kept the lipstick pencils and one of the blushes that looked nice on me. I think I have enough lipstick pencils to last until I'm in a home :--). Interestingly, when mom was alive I never used lipstick pencil, but now I do. I suppose I am just keeping tradition.
On another note, I'm not sure if I should find a bereavement group, a new therapist or just let time pass. I seem to be feeling so many different emotions that I never know where I am going to land. My son is in his 3rd year at college and lives there. My daughter is in her 3rd year of high school and is practically gone all the time too. I don't have mom to take care of any longer and yet with all this "freedom" I don't feel very free.