All of my family pictures have been taken down from the walls, packed with care in bubble wrap, boxed up and stored at my mom’s house. All of the personal possessions I’ve collected through a lifetime of experiences have been stacked in an extra bedroom at my mom’s house. My seventeen year old cat and all her belongings have been relocated to my mom’s house, along with some of my furnishings. I’ve been trying to keep two houses running for the past nine months and it’s become more than I can handle. A family friend will be moving in at the end of the month so that my home will not sit empty through the winter. I didn’t want the poor guy to be surrounded by all my eclectic collections and walls and walls full of pictures and posters. But, when I walk into my house now, it feels so empty and strange. It’s still my house, but it doesn’t feel like it. Have you ever felt like you’re no longer living your own life? Like you’re just standing on the outside looking in, but not really a part of anything that used to be the life you once lived? That’s how I’ve felt for months now, ever since the day when everything changed.
For the past nine months, I’ve been staying with Mom. She’ll be 92 years old soon and she can’t live alone. She and Dad always took care of each other, and now he’s gone. Promises are easy to make, but not always so easy to fulfill, especially when grief overshadows even the best intentions. I made a promise nine months ago that I would take care of Mom. I won’t let Dad down. It was one of the last things I said to him. Besides, my parents never ever let me down. Now it’s my turn.
I’m overwhelmed a lot of the time with all of my new responsibilities. It’s hard to believe how much attention and care a feisty old one hundred pound woman needs. Fortunately, Mom is still fairly self-reliant, but she is very stubborn and set in her ways. But then, I’m stubborn and set in my ways. My old cat is stubborn and set in her ways. We are three hard-headed old ladies trying to co-exist in the old house my parents built over six decades ago. I won’t lie, it’s difficult. Sometimes, I feel selfish and resentful that my own life is on hold. Other times, I’m grateful beyond words that I have this time to spend with my mom, because I realize we might not have a lot of time left together. So, even though I might feel like I’m standing on the outside of what was the life I once lived, the rewards of the life I’m living right now are priceless. Thanks Mom and Dad for teaching me what is really important in this crazy world…how to give and receive love unconditionally, even when times are tough.