Updated: Feb 20
Guest writer for The NZDream blog
Today, as I’m writing this piece, I am reminded of what’s ahead for the next several weeks. And it made me think about the phrase “sit and stay awhile”. Many of you might have aging parents living with you, some in other states or some that have gone to a better place of rest. Today, I’m looking at my 88-year-old mother, in her frailty, heading for a surgery that many have had, many have survived, and many have not. I wondered did I really just “sit and stay awhile”. Or am I so focused on the day’s activities while believing there will be more time. Or to hear the words…” you remember when” while we share stories of our past excursions and family events, all while making future plans.
My mom was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. We do not have a family history of breast cancer and she has never had a mammogram, but she felt the lumps in her breast, and we immediately went to have them checked. First the mammogram, then the biopsy, and then the treatment plan. My mom came to live with me 3 years ago. Initially, I was excited thinking of all the things we could do together like we did when she would come to visit. But this time it was different. She moved slower, slept more, and some days didn’t want to leave the room. And for the first time, I realized I was a caregiver.
As we went through each day, her asking me the same questions, needing me to cut her sandwiches and help her into the car; I realized this was only going to progress and never get back to that memory of days gone past. They were now only visions that circled my thoughts during the late nights while I slept. Those days were no more. You see, in my mind, I still saw my vibrant mother that would love a shopping day, followed by lunch and margaritas. That retired woman started a business and took care of everyone in the family, whether you were an actual family member or a close friend of the family. Regardless, you were always welcome. She (was) is the lady you would call “mom” or “auntie”.
She has more friends than I do. And some of my friends I believe like her better. (that’s our little joke) But on this day I realized I didn’t take the time to “sit and stay awhile”. Memories begin to surface, and I think back to when I was working and traveling throughout the country. I would take her with me, and we would have a blast! Sightseeing, shopping, taking pictures, and trying different types of cocktails, we did it all. Today, I have to ensure we have the wheelchair, that she has eaten before we go and used the restroom.
Now she is still feisty, on some days, and she hasn’t lost her memory (although I’m not really sure) because heck, I forget what is said sometimes. And I laugh, saying today is like Groundhog Day, where you have asked me the same question again and again. And then I tease her and say ok here’s a test what did I say about…and she laughs.
I’ve been trying to keep up her spirits about the surgery, reciting statistics of how many mastectomies doctors perform daily and the success rate. The doctors say she’ll be fine, her heart is good, and her vitals are good. But I look at this frail woman undergoing surgery at 88 and pray that this one-hour surgery brings her home feeling better, less tired, able to eat more as we continue to walk down memory lane. And I realized its time to “sit and stay awhile”.
This article has been one of the toughest I have ever written, and I want to say to you, my friends. Listen to the repeated stories of our elders, watch the shows they want to watch, be patient and caring, bring the grandkids over often and let the dogs jump up on the bed. She loves all of that! But what she really wants is for you to “sit and stay awhile”. Please pray for my mother's recovery.
Until the next time,
May you speak words of positivity, seek people that are open-minded, show daily gratitude, remain passionate about your desires, stay motivated into action and be an inspiration to others. And most important, take the time to “sit and stay awhile”.
Your Friend, Sheryl