For months I had been struggling with how best to deal with my 92 year old mother's boredom. At times I felt like a cheerleader. I got her out for short walks to feed the ducks, to stand on the porch to watch the flocks of birds, and to sometimes just sit quietly on the bench outside watching traffic, chatting with neighbors strolling by.
Each time she rose to the occasion, giving me hope that boredom was a thing of the past. Only hope would be dashed once again when she sunk back into her easy chair to rest, or was it to shut out the world?
Truly this was a new chapter in my Mom's life that I was having trouble accepting. My mother had always been one of the most active women I knew. Her high energy level was legendary in the family. When she came to Denver to visit with my sister and me, we often had to take naps just to be able to keep up with her. When she went to Las Vegas with my sister and her husband, they begged her to slow down as they were wiped out. To see her now sitting for hours at a time, almost daily, was a huge shift in lifestyle.
I cried out to God constantly for answers, for help and direction in the situation. I was at a complete loss as to what to do, completely frustrated. At times I even questioned that maybe I was the one that was off in trying to get her to be more active. Perhaps it was ok for her to sit quietly most of the day. Perhaps I was the one that just needed to slow down. I had to admit I seemed to inherit my Mom's high energy level and had much difficulty just sitting.
There were other signs that troubled me though. Increasingly, she stayed in her bathrobe 'til late in the afternoon. Sometimes she never did get dressed. Was I now dealing with depression?
Slowly the light began to dawn. One day I ws encouraging my Mom to get dressed. She resisted. "What for?" she countered. "Who cares?"
I switched tactics. "It's important, Mom. You're important."
"Oh yeah, real important," said my Mom sarcastically.
It was then I realized this wasn't about her getting up to do things, to go places to make her day more enjoyable. My Mom had simply lost her feeling of importance and didn't see any reason for entering into the activities of the day. Somehow she was getting lost in all the activity, withdrawing more and more and becoming detached. The activities had served more as a wall than a bridge, a form of keep away and I wasn't any closer to getting to know her as a person or her knowing me.
Aha-it was intimacy we needed, something we were very skillful at avoiding. Intimacy meant being vulnerable, vulnerable to criticism, judgement, condemnation. Did I want to open myself up to that? My Mom is not one to open up easily. She doesn't trust readily and she isn't one to open up even to her friends at much depth or transparency. I had my work cut out for me.
Now I was armed with insight. However, I found it wasn't so easy to implement. Where to begin? And how? I stammered. I stumbled. I continued to pray. I had to trust God since I was clueless how to begin.
And then one afternoon, when all planned activity just did not pan out and there was just no avoiding each other, it happened. We opened up and shared. We had a heart to heart conversation of some pain from the past. Our eyes were opened. We saw ourself and each other clearer. Apologies, forgiveness was extended. And it was good. It was ok.