It has been my personal experience in this life I live, while quite unconventional at this stage of living, has provided me with the opportunity of gaining understanding and insight. While probably not all that profound, it has helped me grasp and share this understanding professionally and personally with others.
The mother (with Alzheimer’s) and daughter had a long history of interactive heated dynamics. Now the roles have been reversed. In that reversal both are dealing with issues from their relationship which are now exacerbated by the mother’s failure to accurately relate to the issues between them. It is not so unusual for familial relationships to have such baggage. It does not necessarily preclude the love existing between them.
I had the opportunity to view the Mother from a perspective that carries no baggage. In my professional career, time and time again I have seen the issues between parents and children inhibit the visions of both when the later years encroach and roles reverse.
What I hope to have offering to the reader is a perspective that should their own lives be moving in this direction to take a second look at the individuals involved…themselves and the other. It is NOT easy to forget or even forgive injustices of our past between parent and child. And perhaps, it is not meant to be…however, growing in our emotional lives also takes leaving the garbage out on the curb, and letting it lay in the dumpster to be taken away.
Life is way too short to continue looking behind us. Yes, it encroaches us unsuspectingly. I’ve always told my children, since they were able to speak themselves, to always make sure they look at the situation by taking a breath and moving twenty steps backwards in their minds to see the whole landscape. Then our perspectives can take in more than the moment.
You and I all have things that have wounded us from our upbringing. Some more traumatic than others are. Some seemingly unforgivable towards the other or ourselves.
I looked at this woman in her moment of life in those days I spent with her. Her life is never going to be the same, age and disease is taking her away from what she once knew. Each day is even taking away memories of her successes and failures. She can no longer be expected to say the very words her children may want to hear to get those hurts they’ve hung onto for all those years acknowledged. They don’t reside in her memory anymore. In many ways, she’s “someone else.”
When I worked as an Social Worker/Activity Coordinator in a nursing home I was approached by a family member who tearfully explained to me her reasons for not wanting to return to see her mother. She said, “I can’t find my mother laying in that bed anymore. She doesn’t know me or recognize any one anymore.” My heart ached for her loss at that moment. However, as I looked at her mother everyday, I also recognized that though she’d become someone else to her family, she was still there. Her humanity still recognized the quality of touch and care. With that recognition, I asked her to reconsider by reflecting how the kinds of touch that she herself responded to. While staff could give her the touch of clinical care, only she and the people who loved this woman in her final stages of living, could offer her the tangible touch of their love. No one else in the facility had that capacity no matter how much staff cared. It is my unscientific belief that tangible touches from people who had the vested interest in these loved ones were the only ones who could deliver the comfort they so deserved.
I got to know someone else…and if we have parents, siblings, or friends becoming “someone else” before our eyes we need to take the time to get to know them before it’s too late. It is during this progression we discover things we never considered as part of their character, however, mostly we discover our own character and level of compassion. It takes real compassion to handle with love the person who becomes someone we never saw before, especially if they become combative. It is then, we must remember fear has entered their consciousness as they lose more and more control of their own world. We too would lose our sense of safety.
Perhaps, it is a unique point of living, to become “someone else” just long enough for those around us to see the other side of who we are as well, but didn’t have time to let anyone see. More so to be the vehicle of transforming others into caring, compassionate people who recognize their own ability to carry the tangible touch of love in one of the most critical aspects of human transitions.
MCStrom Revised 11-2017