My mom had a stroke. She was in the hospital for a short time, then in a skilled nursing facility, then in acute rehab. Now she’s living with me.
Mentally she’s all there, though impaired in her speech and attention span. Physically she’s bedridden and wheelchair-bound. One leg and arm work normally, the others do not.
Some of her friends and loved ones lament what she’s lost, or rather what they’ve lost in her, and now miss. I for one like the new Mom. She’s softer and gentler and, frankly, cute as a button. She no longer cares about making herself up to look young and pretty, and as a result she’s even prettier, with fluffy grey hair and glowing white skin.
My life is now filled with her life. It used to be important to me to carve out some “Me time” each day, an hour or two for sitting on the couch and watching mindless TV if I wanted to. I thought I needed this unwinding in order to function. Now there’s no Me time. Any extra time I have between work and bedtime and running necessary errands, is spent sitting with Mom, talking with her, adjusting her in bed to be more comfortable; or else making appointments or arrangements of one kind or another on her behalf. I may get 15 or 20 minutes of Me time after work, which seems to suffice nowadays.
Sometimes if she has a visitor I get more free time, since they’re there to tend to her needs; a couple of hours, sometimes three or four, though occasionally interrupted with requests that only I can fulfill, since I know just how she likes to be positioned in bed, or have the blanket wrapped around her legs in the wheelchair. Sometimes I have the burden of entertaining the visitors, who may spend an hour with her and then an hour with me — an hour during which I’m distracted, worried about Mom being neglected, lonely and bored, vegetating in front of the TV by herself in her room, while her “visitor” is out in the living room with me, talking and robbing me of my free time.
But I can still function. It’s a whole new life, one which I never would have thought I could live. But I’m living it, and it’s fine.