The time has finally arrived. I say “finally” not with anticipation, but with a release of sadness that I didn’t realize I had been holding onto… guarded behind a hope that this stretch would fade gently into the next peaceful tune like two consecutive lullabies on a record.
I once heard someone say, “In life, going downhill is an uphill job.” There is more than a certain amount of truth to this statement. I dare say, there is a mountain of truth. Watching my mother care for her mother, my grandmother, these last eight years has been nothing short of beautiful. Exhaustingly beautiful.
My mother has been her mother’s shoulder and her shadow, her height and her steps; at times, her words and her tears. Caring for a loved one 24-7 who is wheelchair bound with dementia is no easy privilege. Pictures of my grandmother hang upon walls and are tucked neatly in heavy photo albums, giving proof to a life which has held babies upon her hips, kisses upon her lips and contagious smiles upon her face.
“I think it’s time,” my mom speaks into the telephone receiver, her voice cracking. “I am looking into an assisted living for Mother. I just can’t care for her anymore in the way she needs. We are both exhausted. I have been sleeping in the same room with her for the last several years. I thought that would be enough. But it isn’t. I thought I would be enough, but I’m not….”
“Oh, Mom. I’m so sorry. You have given more than enough. You have given everything you are for the last eight years. You know your dad is so proud of you for taking care of your mom after he passed. These last couple of years have just been too much. Your mom has needed more care than you can give. It isn’t fair to either one of you. Your health has been suffering, and she is declining as well. You are making the right decision.”
“I know, I know. But she gave me so much more than eight years, Tiffany. She gave me….”
It is hard to hear your parent cry. You are never old enough to become unshaken by the sound of pain. I took a moment to let the tears fall in the silence which gapped our different towns. I couldn’t help but begin to tear up as well. I wasn’t even sure as to why my cheeks were wet, but then I understood when my mom continued to speak.
“She gave me… me. She tied my shoes when I was little and then taught me how to tie them for myself. She sewed my dresses, and said I looked pretty in them. And I believed her. She told me to love people where they’re at, and then she showed me by protecting me from Daddy’s temper. And she never once stopped being my greatest fan. Not once. Ever. She is the kindest person I have ever met, and she is my mother.”
Hmm… loving parents do have a way of doing that, don’t they? Of helping to give their sons and daughters the opportunity to be who they are in this world? I couldn’t help but cry with my mom, just thinking about how much my mom has given me… me.
Life is exhaustingly beautiful. Time arrives on its own schedule, sometimes with gentle fades like peaceful lullabies, and other times with a few skips on the player. Even still, the “uphill job” of growing up and growing old is one which is made a little easier when we are connected to one another in the unity of love.
Colossians 3:14 says, “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
SGLY, dear readers.
(Smile, God Loves You.)
Tiffany Kaye Chartier is a Christian author and opinion columnist. You can find her newly released books, “H.E.R.O. Faith” and “Bad Disciples” on Amazon. To submit feedback on SGLY, please contact news@ amtrib.com. Follow Chartier on Facebook: facebook. com/tiffanychartier and Twitter: @tiffanychartier