Saturday, April 10, 2010

In Defense of Mom

I can't completely convey to you my relationship with my mother, who is 87. For a little background, she lives alone in my hometown, having outlived two husbands. Her quarters are spacious and comfortable, with enough room to house regular visits from my siblings and their children. She doesn't lack for much and still ventures out on her own to the store, having maintained her driver's license with regular, required exams. She recently had cataract surgery in both eyes, but is disappointed in the results. Her accompanying prescription glasses don't provide her with the vision she had hoped for. But she perseveres in spite of it.

My mother is one of those individuals with an amazing gene of longevity. My great-aunt attended Christmas at my mother's home until she was 99. My great-aunt's last year was fitful and troubling with falls and endangering forgetfulness. My mother was forced to make the decision to move her from her home of 60 years to a nursing facility. She did not go willingly and derided my mother for that decision, turning to hateful remarks and spurning the efforts of the entire staff at the nursing home. She died a few, brief months after admittance. My take: her freedom had been wrestled from her and the will to live expired the minute she was forced to leave her home. My mother was trying to protect her, but looking back, it didn't matter. My great-aunt was going to do what she was going to hell with the consequences. I almost feel like she died to spite my mother. She had that kind of spunk.

Here is my issue: my mother is fast-approaching the same scenario as my great-aunt. She's as healthy as she can be and sharper than a tack, but she can't control the advance of age and its toll on her mobility and choices. My great-aunt died when I lived in Indianapolis, although I traveled home for each Christmas. My brother and brothers-in-law would all jockey for the job of picking up Aunt Caroline and bringing her to my mother's home for Christmas Eve. It was extremely important to all of us that she be there. It is extremely important now that my mother be there, although I am now living in Texas and can't travel home for every Christmas.

My thoughts turn to Obamacare and what consequences it will have on my mother. We supported my mom in her decision to move Aunt Caroline to the nursing home. None of us wanted to see that happen, but we all knew that Aunt Caroline could no longer take care of herself. But it was our decision, born out of love and concern for her well-being. We wanted to protect her from calamity and continue to see her attend our Christmas get-togethers. For Aunt Caroline, that could only happen on her own terms.

I want my mother to go out on her own terms as well. I can't protect her while living in Texas and have to trust my siblings to assist her. But what if it comes down to a decision on healthcare? What if we are denied the ability to decide on a course of action for my mother's well-being and instead must acquiesce to an Obamacare mandate? What if that mandate precludes our wishes for her care?

My mother deserves better than that. She deserves to be guided by her family's love and caring. Just like my mom did for Aunt Caroline.

One of the highlights of my week is to talk to my mom on Sundays. We miss a week here and there, but if I don't call her, she calls me. Sometimes the conversation is brief, sometimes it lasts for nearly an hour. The length of the call is usually dictated by the occasion of an Indiana University basketball game or an Indianapolis Colts football game. She hates to be interrupted during a game. I love her dearly.

Special note: Aunt Caroline had bypass surgery in her eighties and had a pacemaker inserted when she was in her nineties.

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