Calls in the Middle of the Night

handmade greeting cards, collage are, vintage photoHenry had finally re-settled himself after a 4:00AM marching tour of the bed when I heard a weird noise.  I’ve taken to wearing ear plugs to bed—Henry often accompanies his marches with a call to arms—so hearing anything was weird.  Then, I remembered that I’d found a louder ring tone on my phone.  The phone going off at 4AM is not a good sign.

By the time I really roused and fumbled it out of my purse, I’d missed the call.  Two missed calls from my sister, the first one at 2:30.  My stomach knotted.

But checking the messages, it wasn’t the worst of news.  Mom fell at the nursing home and broke her wrist.  Calling my sister back, I got the details.  She fell both going to and from the bathroom.  Big knot on her head and bruised all over, but just the wrist broken.

It was inevitable, this fall.  She gets dizzy suddenly and is not to get up without someone with her.  Early on, Mom was content to let her Depends do their job if the aides didn’t get to her in time.  But, since she’s gained some strength and a little more clarity, she sneaks to the bathroom on her own sometimes.  I sympathize.  I don’t think I could wait and eventually wet myself if the bathroom was just a few steps away.

It’s incredibly hard to accept new limitations.  My mom has always been a strong, independent woman.  She was the driving force in our family, always early to appointments, always referring to her wall calendar for what was next.  Whatever it was, Mom got it done.  I think she’s been remarkably reasonable about her slow recovery from a botched angiogram, but I understand the drive to regain what was lost.  Every few months I get the urge to get a job even though I know I’m not capable of that anymore.  It’s like an amputation.  I feel the phantom sensation and think that limb is still healthy and whole.  The ability to get up and go to the bathroom must seem even more fundamental.

I hope this will be a learning for Mom, a way for her to come to terms with these new limits.  Without the use of one arm she’ll be even more dependent on the care staff.  It’s a set-back for her, but maybe a necessary one.

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