I had it all planned out. I would write a book, market the book, do a few speaking events and book signings, develop an internet presence, and life would go along smoothly. Maybe that could have happened, IF…my 90 year old mother had not broken her hip in July, if she didn’t live more than 500 miles away from me, and if I was not the one she had previously entrusted with her medical decisions, and financial affairs should something like this happen to her.
I didn’t think when I was planning out my life that I would be sitting beside Mama’s hospital bed in the middle of the night, my hand gently rubbing her arm, attempting to restrain her from trying to get up and “go home.” I could tell by the look in her eyes that she considered me to be the “enemy” who was keeping her in a place she didn’t want to be. She pleaded for her daughter to come help her. I was there as her daughter but not to her. And she was there as my mother but not to me – not as the Mama I had known.
In the weeks since her accident and subsequent partial hip replacement surgery, she recognizes me most of the time. My husband, daughter, and I have made numerous trips to the mountains of North Carolina where she is now in an assisted living facility. She will never be the same. I will never be the same. She still wonders why she just can’t go home, drive a car, or cook her own food again. I try to rationalize how best to tell her that she will never do those things again, but she doesn’t want to believe it. Some would say that she just has to accept that this is her “new normal.” New normal is a neocultural expression: out with the old, in with the new. To my 90 year-old-mother it means: out with the old, end with the new. Nothing will ever be normal to her again.
I can only hope that Mama will…actually, I don’t know what to hope for my mother. To hope that she will remember everything about her past will only make her yearn all the more to have it back. To hope that she will not remember in order to ease her longing for the past will also erase the memories and people who brought love, laughter, and purpose to her life. Although I cannot imagine a good solution, God can. He knows how it will end and has promised that it will be all good one day.
As for me, I can only hope that I will…actually, I don’t know what to hope for my future either. This journey I have been on with my mother for six months has taught me more about life than I have learned in the past six decades. I have learned that your “normal” life can change in an instant. I have learned that there are some people who will not surrender their predetermined, self centered life goals for anyone or anything. I have learned not to waste my time now with people like that. They would never sit beside my hospital bed anyway.
Perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learned is that it’s great to have goals and dreams for your life, but when a detour unexpectantly takes you off your expressway route be ready. Be ready to slow down, be ready for road blocks, and be ready to accept this different path. Although this detour with my mother doesn’t mean I will never reach the destination I had planned (or maybe it does?), I have learned to hold the future losely and focus on this moment. Tomorrow, well, I’ve learned that only God know about that, and I’m going to let Him plan my route.