Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Matter of Independence

Mom has been keeping to her bed lately, which worries me.  She does come out in the evening to watch her favorite TV shows and goes back to bed around 9 PM.

Reflecting on this situation brings me to several conclusions:  1)  too much bed = not too much muscle mass; 2)  this might be her grief process;  3)  Mom needs independence, but built in safety measures. 

Granted I'm running around the house trying to complete paperwork, prepare meals, and look out for the property.  It does keep one busy, but not the point of ignoring a human being, so I've devised a plan to get Mom slowly, but surely, back in action.

Greatest Generation products don't give up easily.  They've learned to push through life's problems with a determination that can't be described.  They this way of life in their youth..  It's called survival.  Mom's a risk taker, has been described as the Energizer Bunny  (translation - goes until she falls), so we are going to embark upon some group activities.

Today she began to fold laundry.  I took the sheets, blankets, and spreads due to their size and bulk.  Mom completed the rest.  At the end of the task, she was tired; however, I detected a spark in her eyes that shone the pure light of purpose.  Divine, absolute purpose.  That simple effort told her she remained in this game of life and I have to admit she helped me immeasurably.

I once spoke to a social worker while  my folks were in the nursing home for rehabilitation.  Mom had tremendous anxiety issues while she tried struggled to walk again.  The nursing home maintained she had to perform or pay for the room.  If she took a day from physical therapy, she was out.  It was as if the nursing home had hired her for some unknown purpose, but she must pass her performance review or else be deemed irrelevant.  (As a matter of fact she suffered from a post-operative infection that I screamed to have checked!)  As I told my friend about Mom's situation, she looked me square in the eye and said, "Your mother has the right to fail."

My friend's statement stung as if I had been slapped in the face.  It stung of ignorance.  It stung of cruelty.  It stung of dispassion.  It flew right in the face of my faith.  For once in my life a statement rendered me speechless.

Do I think people do not have the right to fail?  It's a tough question.  My answer can only be wrapped around what I've experience with my parents.  If one becomes ill, but has the will to go on the best they know how with support, then no.  Perhaps the definition of failure lives in a black and white reality.  If society can't take care of them, then that's that.  The deed done.  Is that healthy?

My faith tells me every day that we need to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.  Are we supposed to help our neighbor from facing failure.  No one wants to be branded a failure, so what gives healthcare workers the right to make that pronouncement?  It's like a chef calling his menu "products," rather than a result of passion.  Our parents, aging relatives, or aging neighbors require help from having their dignity taken away from them.  To uphold and devise methods where an elderly person can wear the cloak of independence.

Perhaps we can air this mindset into the light of day for discussion, because I, for one, will not make a snap judgement about my mother.  I'm preserving her right to succeed for as long as she can.      

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