Heart-me, head-me, and the me in-between.
It’s heart wrenching separating from mum.
There are two me’s: the heart-me and the head-me. The heart-me aches to leave her there, so small and vulnerable. This is exactly what I dreaded happening. The head me reminds me it’s not as bad as that. It’s a transition…that’s what the head-me says, as does everyone else. My friends and family want me to not work so hard, to ‘live my life’.
The heart-me screams out that I’m neglecting her, so innocent and helpless, leaving her in the dark, alone in that place, the facility across the road. The feeling reminds me of when I first left my eldest at childcare, clinging to me for dear life. Sick in the gut - that’s how I feel.
Yet my head-me is trying to be rational. I feel that part of me is a liar, a cheat, dishonest. A fake. Self-interested. Not me at all. That part of me mimics all the words others say: You can’t look after her anymore. She’ll have another fall at home and that will be it. You need to sleep well at night. What - you want carers 24/7 in your house? It will drive you crazy and you’ll be exhausted!
I’d do all that for mum.
But there’s another part of me, somewhere in between the head and heart-me, that DOES want time off, time to sleep easily at night without one ear cocked for the thump on the floor. How many times have I woken in the middle of the night in cold dread, my ears and eyes wide open to decipher the noise? So many countless times I’ve grabbed my phone to check what the camera will reveal. Is she safely sleeping or sprawled on the floor?
I try to explain all this to mum, simply. I sit close to her and hold her hand. I tell her I miss her so much. Convince her and myself how lucky it is, for both of us, that there are people in this place, this ‘hotel’ that cook yummy meals. That it helps me. I don’t tell her that it’s a relief that I don’t have to serve food throughout the day, wash the dishes, start again, round after round. Change nappies, wash bottom, wash soiled clothes, sheets, blankets. Wake her up at midnight for last nappy change and a midnight snack of a small cup of tea and apple compote. Remember where she’s sitting, because sometimes I would forget. Oh dear, and I would rush to her hoping she’s ok. Except for the four hours on weekdays when the carers came.
The heart-me pipes up: It’s not that bad. In fact it’s been a blessing, it really has been. To look after your dear vulnerable mum. You've done it for 4 years and 8 months.
It doesn’t seem long, but day in and day out, except for respite times, is a commitment. I set up my home with tenants that loved mum and kept an eye out for her. I have support from Jewish care. But that gets crazy too. Cancellations/polite chatting/frustrations. On the other hand they have helped me so much in so many ways.
Back to mum. I still can’t completely accept that she’ll be a permanent resident in the Aged Care place.
The thought sticks in my throat and hurts my heart.
You know how I miss you!
When you are here, I am alright
The Guest of Honour