Lynne Harley is a Fit Minds™ Cognitive Coach in Saskatchewan and is also dealing with her own mother’s cognitive challenges. We were talking about the Loving Mom™ Workshop and she shared the following journal entry with me. Her story, while not unique, really touched my heart and she agreed that I could share it with you. Here is Lynne’s story:
“I must admit to sometimes feeling sorry for myself ….and this past week I had a few such days. I found myself wondering how the responsibility of supporting my aging mother fell on my shoulders; and briefly envied my siblings who have physical and emotional distance from the reality of my mother’s aging process. This was a particularly difficult week. I had too much going on in my own life; let alone trying to be there for my mom. I felt vulnerable and fragile. I was doing too much, too fast and finally realized I was not doing any of it well. What happened to my sense of balance? It was time to take a step back and regain my footing.
So …Friday morning I got in my car…. and drove from Saskatoon to Prince Albert to spend the afternoon with my amazing group of friends. As soon as they asked me how I was, I started to cry, then I vented and they hugged and loved me unconditionally. At lunch we reminisced and talked about all that we have been through together. We’ve shed many tears, but we’ve also enjoyed much laughter and such support…We’ve been through some tough stuff… cancers, death of family members, difficult marriage breakups, and parenting challenges. Now some of us have joined the “sandwich generation”. We are juggling time between support of adult children; grandkids and aging parents. In spite of, and because of all that we have endured together, we are still able to laugh, let go and relax into this wonderful comforter of friendship.
As I drove home, I reflected on what a strong and tenacious group of women I am privileged to call my friends. I felt renewed and hopeful. I know that I am right where I am supposed to be in this moment. When I focus on this, there are many lessons to learn and gifts to enjoy. This week I was reminded of how important is it to take time for myself, to determine what is really important and be realistic about what I can take on; I need to slow myself down, mindfully be with each activity and enjoy the ride. This is a new chapter for both my mother and me. When I reflect on the events of this last year, and what mom has experienced, I am in awe of her strength and resilience. It was the death of her husband that sparked the idea of this move, and it was no simple feat. Leaving her marital home in Ottawa to relocate to Saskatoon has been a huge undertaking and she has done it with grace.
Now, four months later Mom is settling into her new lifestyle, and likens it to being on a “cruise ship”. We are both grateful for the weekly cognitive coaching we do together. With a family history of dementia, this interaction gives us both a sense of control and hope for Mom’s future. My mother is an eager student and she has been my greatest teacher. I admire her willingness to leave her comfort zone and experience the new. She remains positive and strong in the face of change. Mom still finds joy in the small simple things. She loves trees, and talking to children and clerks when we are shopping; she is a good listener to her friends and she is so kind and generous.
Experiencing a reversal in our roles is at times bittersweet, but my heart is opening in a way I never thought possible. Last night, after I gave my mom a foot rub, covered her up, tuned off her lights and let myself out of her apartment, I was reminded of Robert Munsch’s story line; “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my Mother you’ll be.”