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Aging
the red wedding
gracht

My Mum lives with me and she is starting to get a little forgetful. She's 80 next year but sometimes when I talk to her she looks like she's fighting back to where my voice is. Sometimes she looks sad or angry or frightened. And,I hate to admit it, but I get annoyed with her at times. When I have to explain something to her a few times. Then she'll snap at me, that of course she knew what I meant. I think it scares me that the person who has always been my rock, my anchor in life, is unsure about anything, in any way. Well, what has made me look at my relationship with my mum more closely was brought home to me in our local supermarket. I was on my own just doing the usual shop when I spotted ahead a couple with an elderly lady. There were raised voices which caught my attention and as I passed them in the aisle, i had to wait 'til they pulled their trolley over so I could hear everything they said to one another. The couple were oblivious to me, as they were hell bent on scolding the very frail looking lady, whom I gathered was Mum to one. She had placed in the trolley a packet of yogurts. The couple were taking it in turns to berate her for her choice: 'What are you buying that for? That's far too much. You'll never eat all that. I'm not eating that. We can't take it home with us. It'll just be a waste. This brow beating went on and on. I felt so sorry for the little lady who had quietly said, but they are on special offer; it's a good buy. She was literally shouted down. She then just stood there with her head bent, listening to this as if resigned to it. My heart went out to her. I felt so bad for her and angry at them. Then she looked up and our eyes met unexpectedly. A world of meaning passed between us. So much unsaid. I did not want her to see any pity in my eyes but I was afraid she had. Yet she had nothing to feel ashamed about. The couple were treating their Mum like a child. Role reversal, I thought, cynically. Then I thought on my shortness at times with my own mum and I was the one who felt guilty. Not that I have ever spoken to my Mum that way; nor would I ever. I just thought, OMG one day they won't have their mum and will they then wish she was there to place some yogurt into the shopping? Later on I passed them again and they were STILL going on at this poor lady about, well I can't even remember what it was now, but they were making it clear that she had no voice or choice as if she was their slave or a complete nonentity. I caught her eyes deliberately this time, and I did not flinch, I gave her a big smile, went up to her and gave her a quick hug, looked straight in her face and I said, 'I think you're wonderful and bloodly well get what you want'. She laughed and said, 'You know I think I will at that!' Then when I got home I gave my Mum a big hug. She said 'what's that for'. 'Nothing, Mum just for always being my hero and you always will', I said. She laughed too. Amazing things, hugs. Very life affirming.