My ageing mother

I spend a great deal of time at home. Which is to say, I spend even more time at home than I used to, and it is a trend to be discouraged. I find it harder than ever to leave the house, and not because I have nothing to do or have any kind of social phobia. But since my mother came to live nearby, I am around to answer the phone in case of need: a habit, which started about three years ago when my father got frail, has hardened.

That’s a pity, since I’ve always found it so hard to motivate myself anyway, that any added disincentive is unhelpful. I just have to remember to go out, make myself less available, less amenable to answering the phone when I have to work.

But that is harder to do than it sounds. I accede the general principle when offered it, but find that it must warp to take in a new reality: My mum is unwell. She tells me often that she feels tired, and complains of various recurring problems, all of which have been investigated and remedied as far as possible. None of it really helps, unfortunately, to answer a situation which could be described quite simply, as, “Getting old, and hate it.” And I wonder at our tendency to prize life almost for the sake of it, instead of looking more closely at its quality…

I am so grateful for my mother’s continuing presence. She has had no choice but to rely on me, which she finds hard. And I have had no choice but to grow up a bit more, be patient, and accommodating – but not too much – and willing, but not too willing. Which I also find hard, but liberating too: it is rare that something upsets me, these days. From learning to accept the inevitability of ageing and its effects, I have learned many intangible lessons that it might otherwise take lifetimes to acquire.

Yesterday, Mum was taken into hospital, a decision made urgently necessary because of a combination of her limitations and mine: she now needs support to walk, which I cannot give her, and because an accident at home would spell disaster, we cannot easily experiment with other options like zimmers and walking sticks. So together we are still learning about compromise, and about accepting oneself despite obvious frustrations. It might be that hospital is the best place for Mum at the moment. I’ll keep you posted.

Thanks for listening.

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