“It’s getting worse, I can’t see,” the woman on the other end of my phone line whimpered. She had been relaying the trauma she was experiencing. “Something went wrong with the microwave, and my apartment filled with smoke and the firemen came,’” she went on breathlessly. “ They tore the plastic on my window, and the medic man wanted me to go to the hospital and I said ‘NO’. “Mom, are you okay?” “Yes, but the plastic has a hole in it, and Jim just fixed that window for me.” I reassured her that we could reseal the window against the cold New England drafts and replace her microwave. “The important thing is that you’re okay…accidents happen.”
We talked some more and her crying stopped and her voice grew stronger. Soon, she was back in full control and her closing words were firm. “Don’t get me another microwave. That one was too big and the fireman said it was old and something was wrong with it.”
I hung up the phone, relieved but somewhat perplexed. The unit was only a few years old. It seems she was trying to heat a muffin. Then her 2-room apartment in an elderly high-rise had filled with smoke and set off the fire alarm. She had been sitting in her chair only feet away when neighbors and firemen come barging into the room. Later I learned that there were eighteen minutes on the timer with something indistinguishable burnt to a crisp inside.
Over the next few weeks, my thoughts often turned to my mom. She had moved back to her home state (2 states from here) after she retired. Her mother and all but one of her siblings lived there, and most were widowed. For the last 16 years she has lived in a High Rise for the elderly, where her mom and 4 siblings resided.
As a divorced woman, she had worked most of her life to raise her 2 daughters alone. Life choices necessitated her to be strong willed and independent.
Her senior years have magnified back problems, old injuries and a lung condition. But her dependence on the Lord and her old Yankee philosophy has combined to keep her functioning to the best of her ability with minimal complaining. Cataracts were properly treated. Even when she was diagnosed with macular degeneration, she learned to compensate and make necessary adjustments.
Death began to take her family members. In the last year, one sister was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and needed placement and another was placed in a nursing home because of medical needs and dementia.
While she continues to maintain her ‘wellness’ and refuse most offers of help, I began to notice her increasing limitations. I found myself ‘surprised’ by her short stature as I walked beside her. Words like ‘old’ and ‘fragile’ began to describe her within my own thoughts.
Another call came a few days ago. My niece had just visited her. She was both shocked and concerned by what she saw. This led her to talk with mom’s youngest sister who also indicated a growing concern she is feeling. “She doesn’t look well, auntie Dar”. And when she tried to use a pair of scissors, I thought she was going to cut her hand. Her fingers have fresh burns…” And I knew the time has come…
My strong willed, fiercely independent mother needs help. She can no longer be allowed to say “NO”. Assessment and intervention needs to be made. She needs protection and guidance and maybe even boundaries-all administered with great love and strength. She needs a ‘parent ‘ who will patiently provide her heavenly Father’s care through this stage of her life.
And so I pray
“Father; Prepare the way before me, and mom’s heart to receive my
‘interference’ into her life. Fill me with great love, wisdom and strength.
Help me to communicate to her, and then actually find, the necessary
resolutions that will allow her to be as independent as her well being and
safety will allow.
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