The Saddest Day That a Daughter Has To Bear. That’s right. Today is my saddest day.
I’ve been there with the death of a parent, and yes, that was tough. My father died suddenly nearly six years ago. He wasn’t well, but no one expected he would die. I pounded on my father’s chest doing CPR for twenty minutes. It was just fortunate that I had learnt CPR about 25 years earlier. With the help of Emergency Services on the phone, I roughly knew what I was doing. Enough, anyway.
I felt it as one of my father’s ribs cracked beneath my pressure. I remember thinking he would be grumpy with me afterwards with his broken rib. I didn’t stop to think that my efforts to revive him wouldn’t work. I guess I couldn’t afford to think that he might die.
By the twenty minute mark I was so exhausted, and every muscle in my body ached. When you see actors doing CPR on the television, you don’t realise that actually it takes an enormous amount of energy and strength. But then they’re not really doing it. Are they?
I was so exhausted I had to stop. Unthinkable really, but I simply had not an ounce of energy left in me. I had done long-distance running and knew what that point of utter exhaustion felt like, but this was so much different and so much more. Fortunately, it was at the very minute the first paramedic came through the door. You can draw your own conclusions about how that happened right at the very moment I had to stop. The paramedic carried on for another twenty minutes. Beyond the call, really. My Dad had gone and my mother and I watched and waited for the funeral director to come. This was a new stage in our lives.
Losing my father was terribly hard. He was my best friend, hero and someone who had believed in me every step of my life. Now he was gone. I carry a diagnosis of fibromyalgia now as a reminder of the trauma, both physical and emotional, that I bore that day.
But today was quite different. Today I was ‘losing’ my mother to the Alzheimer’s Disease which has increasingly swallowed her up. She hasn’t died. I guess I haven’t really lost her. But then, I know that I have. There is no coming back from this.
Today I moved my mother into a secure (read locked!) dementia care unit. It was the saddest moment when she said in a pleading voice “you’re not going, are you?”. I had done my best to make her new room familiar, I had walked her into her new home and now it was time for me to leave. Time to let the staff take care of her.
Mum hadn’t known where we were going today. To have told her would have been wasted. We were simply going for a walk (her new home is on the same property as the old). When we got to her new room, she thought it was my room. She looked around and recognised a few of her things. Theo, the teddy bear she had once made was on her bed, as was a cushion she had embroidered back before she was married. These were her things. This was her room.
I’m no expert on Alzheimer’s Disease but perhaps since my father’s death, I have become somewhat of an expert on my mother. She’s scarcely the woman I knew. She’s barely the woman who raised me.
We used to argue day in day out, but that tension is gone. Now she depends on me for her life. When I’m not visiting, she spends hours looking for me. I have become her link to life, because while physically she’s holding on, mentally she is a shell. And today I took that shell out of her semi-familiar surroundings today and gave her a totally unfamiliar new home.
I came home and I cried. Cried for the mother I have lost. Actually, I never thought that I would cry for her. We just didn’t have that kind of relationship. Actually, we barely had any relationship. It’s not that I didn’t care, or that she didn’t care. It’s just we had never found a way to get along.
One day, my mother will die and I guess I will cry again. But the woman I knew for fifty plus years has almost totally gone. Simply leaving a shell. And that makes this my saddest day.
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