Strange but not all have the heart to look after their old. As long as one can remember it has always been that one child amongst many who assume it is their sole responsibility to take care of the old and so that was mine for a good 27 years. I was definitely not the epitome of patience kindness and all that it takes but had just one thing a heart to do it nonetheless. Being second in line of 5 siblings who later parted for marital bliss, it was mum and me!
So began our journey of 27 years, first changing the mindset of a widow, teaching mum in her 60s to live it up, to have fun, to party, to go out. To wear the trendiest T-shirt and trousers, to put on makeup and just make the best of living, I succeeded. At times I was often judged and never appreciated but carried on enjoying the kick I got out of teaching someone at mums age to draw out the best of life and the satisfaction I feel even to date. I was certainly not the favorite child but that did not bother me, I loved and admired my mum and nothing mattered. I often inquired of God, why was I the “chosen one” to manage this challenging situation and He reminded me how as a little girl I was always alert to mum when she was sick or hurt and was the first to wake up and reach out. As time went by mum developed a confidence in herself that she could do things, she could go places and she often went off to Goa all alone with wheelchair assistance with someone to fetch her at the other end. I had managed to mold her thinking, her belief in using her faculties and abilities and this helped to a great extent even until the final hours of her sojourn on earth. I always said to her, you will go with your boots on and she would reply yes of course.
Managing mums mind made caring for her in final years a lot easier as she realized that the more ways she discovered in being independent only made her stronger and more powerful made her the boss and she need not depend on me. I helped throw her back to whatever ability was still good to use and she found the joy of hanging in. This made her mind alert. While managing her money and health in the later days she learned to trust me up to a point but when she got clouded by folks who always came along sometimes at a point where her mind became weaker, to disturb the peace of what was going on smoothly. While I let her be, she learned to think to judge for herself but it did get hard when she was strongly pulled off to another side. Caregiving would then be a steep uphill. Her advisors were quick to judge to give her advice but were not happy to take her over and replace me. Being hemmed in such a situation made me turn to the Almighty and help was always on the way.
Of some of the changes brought about in my mother’s life was the belief and confidence she had in herself till the end, her alert mind. Her life seemed purpose driven looking forward to her holidays, her new wardrobe was never to be repeated and proportionate to the trips she made. Taking a swanky haircut, makeup on and you knew she was living it up. Helping her cope with high blood sugar was a challenge but we managed it with crying and heartaches. I was a devil caretaker at such moments but I would insist that I wanted to ensure till the end she had all her 10 toes and her bones intact. Nothing broke nothing missing and believe me that’s what I did get, thank you Almighty. It was a good shout sometimes and some encouragement which got us on even terms. Making her responsible for herself, medicines, etc, made her less clingy, empowered her and made it simpler for me to concentrate and what needed more attention. Teaching her to use a walking stick and later a walker made her mobile and gave her inner strength and belief in herself.
I would certainly conclude that this is no privilege and no one fights for the right or duty to take this off your hands and only you know you have no option but to finish off with the help and strength of your God. I could speak to mum in her last days even preparing for the day she had to make peace with all and ready her soul and spirit to unite with her creator and I had the privilege to tell her it was okay to let go and not to hold on, to go towards her eternity where her loved ones were waiting to receive her along with her mighty God. I never allowed guilt feelings to ever take over and at times when I blew it and my patience did wear out, I just asked to be forgiven and carried on again. Even today when thoughts of regret bother me, I would throw them off and think in my humanness love was the basis for what I did even though I may not have been 100 percent perfect.
My heart and understanding go out to all caregivers who have the best hearts and are seldom perfect. God bless you.
About the Author
“Hi. I am Rosette Vaz. A recent retiree post 38 years of service in MNCs as an Admin Manager in the last job and with just having completed my work life milestone, I am now looking towards the next phase of life with excitement. I have briefly shared what it meant to single-handedly manage a job and an old parent for 20 plus years. I trust what I have shared would encourage someone somewhere who can identify with me. As after sacrificing much of one’s life juggling a job and old parent one can still cope with life ignoring the often guilt feelings or condemnation brought by folk who can judge or pull you down. But one day at a time and you will complete to satisfaction and without regret projects such as these which seem never-ending and take forever but when you look back you wonder how you coped. How you managed and where did you get that strength and motivation. Finally, with your God all things are possible. My prayer with every reader going thru struggles. God bless you.”