I have had many challenges in my life, but none so hard as realizing that the last ever care free shopping trip with my mom happened in June. She is facing heart issues and other stuff and isn’t carefree right now.
But I can tell you, amongst the grief and anger and emotional upheaval, is a group of incredibly strong staid women who face those like me and my mom every day.
I can tell you that the woman named Jackie, that washed my mother while she was in physical rehab, made her happy. My mother said she had never been so clean and refreshed. And when I told Jackie, she blushed and said thank you. Humble, kind and reliable. Jackie is the true meaning of the everyday elder care hero.
Then of course there is Martha, the stalwart, who knows how care should be and takes it personally and takes pride in her investment of time. Martha is the queen of "I can get her to eat again" folks. She has already proven herself with the yogurt that she made mom eat. Martha makes companies like Hope Well be successful.
And tonight, there is Alma, the night caregiver, who will stay awake in case my mother gets up. And she will read in her chair and listen and oh by the way, water is fine, I don't need coffee to stay awake.... Alma.
And may I tell you that there are others who helped in this process whose names I don't have down on paper. The ones who said, "you are amazing for showing up every day and looking out for her". The ones who came down the hall to tell me they think that there is no hope or all hope or just a hug or just a good bye squeeze.
My father asked what was her name? I tried to explain. I don't know Jackie's last name, but I know she has three kids and one has football on Thursday's. I don't know Janice's last name, but her sister lives in Quitman and her mom is at home for now.
I don't know the night nurse or the day nurse or even the head social worker's name. But I know they all came down the hall to hug me, to catch my tears or just tell me to go outside for a few moments. I know the ones who wear red and the one's with matching eyeglasses. I know the young one that wanted to wear green nail polish and the cranky old one who told me that he should be present to discuss how my mother behaved on medication.
I don't know the outside of them anymore than I know the outside of my mother.
I know the inside of them is warm and loving and wanting and alive.
I know the inside of my mother is still a mess. And it may never change, it may always change.
What doesn't change is my memory of our last shopping trip and the girls day out. And I miss her already and I love her forever. Thank you mom, for every one you have been and everyone you are and for being my rock. You still are the amazing woman I love.