To Be Like Mom

How hard is it? Some people think taking care of Grandpa (and Grandma) is a particularly difficult task. Maybe even an overwhelming task unlike that which normal people must face.

I don’t view my situation that way. I have always thought my situation bears a very close resemblance to being a mom, and being the mother in a house. My present responsibilities requires the same skills and grace of motherhood, and perhaps less than is required of many mothers, since I have only Grandpa to tend and many mothers can have at least three little children in need of having their butts wiped, their noses blown, their dinner prepared, tucked into bed, watched out for, questions answered, and everything else in the long litany of things required by little kids. From little infant on up, for every one of their needs there is an eerily corresponding one for Grandpa.

Which, of course, is not to say it is all easy. Any mother can testify that it isn’t all easy. But it is life, it is what must be done, and it is what mother’s have done for generations. To do it rightly does require a large gift of grace, patience, and peace . . . but all are equal in need of that.

It can be a wearying job, as all mother’s can attest. It is a full time job, with very little time for oneself. There is always supper to be made, or else breakfast to be fetched, lunch to be made, or innumerable snacks (or cups of coffee for my charge). There are dishes to be washed, the kitchen to be cleaned, grocery lists to be made, groceries to be bought, diapers to be changed, clothes to be washed. Yes, the tasks of motherhood are many, and mine are no greater and no more difficult.

So, I never think anyone should consider my job any greater or more difficult. That is not to disparage motherhood, (quite the contrary!) but rather to put things in the right perspective. It is very humbling, and proper, to realize one’s tasks are not unique, but rather the very things that some labor at all their adult lives. Rather than becoming fixated on the difficult things that I must do, instead I can in this particular unique time in my life reflect on what mothers do and what sacrifices their calling requires of them and honor them for it, recognizing a little more clearly the price they willingly pay as servants and mothers of a family for many more years than will ever be required of me.

It is a good experience for me, I think. Obviously, I will never fully experience all the trials of motherhood. But as it is unlikely that I will spend most of my life in the role of primary care-giver that a mother occupies, it is good for a time to, as it were, “walk a mile in those shoes” and come to have a little more understanding, compassion, and respect for the burdens and trials, and strength required for motherhood. I’ll never be a mother (and let’s face it, I don’t have enough womanly qualities to even come close) but for a time I have the opportunity to be like Mom, and perhaps learn something from that service.

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Unrelated random scene attached:

As I’ve said before, the combination of Grandpa being unable to find the right words and his confusion make for some very bizarre conversation.

Tuesday night was a bad night. Grandpa woke up about 1:30 AM to go to the bathroom but when he came back to bed he didn’t promptly fall back to sleep like he normally does. I lay in my bed and listened to him sigh and stir and move about on his bed and act restless. I had a feeling I knew what was coming, and sure enough a little late I heard the sound of the dresser drawer opening.

I flicked on my bedside light. “You want something, Grandpa?” I asked.

“Yeah, I guess so. Something to put on.”

“What?” I looked at him, and he was still properly dressed for going to bed.

“You know, something to split your palm and cover your modesty.”

“Are you cold?” I asked.

“No, I’m not cold,” he said.

“Well,” I said, “the only thing you don’t have on is a pair of pants, and you don’t need to wear pants to bed. I don’t understand what you want to put on.”

“Never mind,” he said, somewhat impatiently. “You’ll have to ask your mother about that. I mean, your wife.”

So I turned the beside light back off. I wasn’t feeling really agreeable that night. If I’m feeling particularly long suffering I will turn my beside light on and sit up in bed and keep him company, watching him as he does various things and try to offer him a sense of help and support even while I occasionally prompt him in the direction of bed. That night I didn’t feel like it, so I put a T-shirt over my eyes and decided I’d just lay there until he finally tired of looking for the something that he didn’t even know what was.

I think he sensed my answer was a little bit more abrupt and final than I usually am because as he continued to fiddle around with things in the dark he said a little later, “Well, I guess Arlie doesn’t want to have anything to do with this.” (Arlan has lived with them much longer, so unless Grandpa is thinking really hard I’m covered by the catch-all “that-boy” name of Arlie).

I told him, “Grandpa, if you can tell me what you want I’ll be glad to help you.” But I still didn’t sit up in bed and turn the light back on and keep him company in his hunt to fix the unknown problem. So I got to listen to him turn restlessly in bed, sighing. Then sit up and itch his head very loudly. Then begin to fiddle around with and fumble with things on top of the dresser. Then knock my clock onto the floor. (I turn the light back on and pick that up, then turn the light back off.) Finally Grandpa gets out of bed and turns the bedroom light on. Checks the room out. Finally turns the light out and leaves the room. Goes to the bathroom, checks the hall. Comes back to the bedroom. Turns on the main bedroom light again, comes over to his bed, then goes back to turn the light off. Then goes back and gets into bed.

He repeats the entire agitated procedure maybe three or four times. Generally it consists of itching the itches that need itching, trying to set the bedroom to right, finding glasses, going to the bathroom, trying to determine if anything needs to be set right or fixed in the bathroom, then going (probably) to check the time on the stove clock in the kitchen and then coming back to the bedroom and trying to get everything right for bed again. Since he has no defined goal, no end he is trying to reach except peace in his mind, and no logical method I can help him along, it is pretty much an infinity loop until he is either mentally or physically exhausted and simply goes back to bed. Unless you are going to authoritatively order Grandpa to stop and go to bed (which I don’t) you simply have to wait it out.

So I lay in bed and waited, keeping track of his activities by sound, until somewhere around the four circuit he finally stopped in the middle of the bedroom and said, “Well, do you think you could help me get all these things set to right?”

“Sure,” I said, getting the cue and sitting up. “I’d do anything if you’ll lay back down and go to sleep.” So I removed the bathroom towel that had made it in onto his bed (neatly folded back up) and the box of tissues that had also migrated to his bed, straightened out various other sundry disorder, approximately straightened out his covers and folded them back. Then he willing got into bed and I covered him up. It was not about 2:30 AM. Grandpa got up to use the bathroom several more times that night, but he went back to bed promptly after them all.

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