It came all of a sudden. Watching my mom drawing her blood to check her glucose level every morning before breakfast starts my everyday. She would then unfold a piece of paper where she normally notes down her numbers and would visibly relax, indicating that no insulin injection was needed. She was so good at this and I trusted her diligence completely.
It was by chance that I reached out for that piece of paper to check how her diabetes was getting controlled. I was confused at what I saw. The numbers she had written were scratchy and unreadable, her dates were wrong, and they were going in all directions, totally missing the grid lines on the paper. I looked at her last legible entry. It was one month before. This happened in February, and she has been getting worse ever since.
She is 83-years-old and, although legally blind and diabetic, she had been an active member of the family in terms of her humor in conversations, her critical opinions of my smoking habits and form-fitting clothes, her washing the dishes and taking control of the trash bins. I used to hate it when she would nag me to put the trash bins out every Thursday evening for Friday collection. I would also complain about how she could use up one big bottle of dish-washing liquid in three days or how her feeding the birds with fresh bread every morning meant extra four loaves every month and how these drew so much bird droppings onto our patio.
Today, I would give everything just to hear her complain about anything at all, would buy her boxes of dish-washing liquid from Costco if she would just start washing the dishes again, and sweep or hose down the patio ten times if need be, just so she would start going there to feed the birds once more.
Yesterday, she asked me why I was wearing glasses. I have worn them since I was six-years-old. Everyday now, in the morning, I supervise her glucose ritual where I have to instruct her on how to use her diabetic paraphernalia; then I jot down her numbers. I do not want to do her ritual for her because I am afraid that she would totally forget everything. She asks me for the date, the month and the year. She gets up at 2 AM, sometimes at 4 AM to eat breakfast. I have become so exhausted in trying to keep up with her. But the physical aspect is nothing compared to my anguish.
Where is my mom? There were just so many things that I used to feel irritated about when she would disturb me to do things for her. Now, I long for her to command me, to say something that shows independent thought. I need for her to complain about my tight dress, my cooking or my late nights with my laptop. Mea culpa...mea culpa... Is it too late?
Does she understand when I hug her and say, "I love you, mom!" every night now when I tuck her in? Did I miss my chance on letting her know how much she really means to me?
Everyday seems to hold so much pain for me as I struggle to see a glimpse of the person I used to know. As I continue to see her slow decline, I am attacked by remorse of, "I should have done this and I should have done that." Is everything too late?
As I look at her innocent and peaceful expression, her childlike countenance makes me feel that she trusts me completely, that I can meet the challenges ahead, that she has always known that I would be there for her and this somehow brings me a semblance of happiness. I am awed by my responsibility, but I am hopeful that by looking at this time as a new season for us, mom and me, I shall soon lose my guilt-feelings and regrets and be able to concentrate more on being creative at devising new activities for her to enjoy.
when you lift a finger. . . you move a star. . .
Photo Credit: alishav.
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