Funny how the first part of the word “moment” is MOM.
I moved my mom across country a week ago to an assisted living community. And, as it’s been for the past four years, every moment of my life still revolves around her.
I say this out of love, resentment and dread. Moving her to Arizona seemed like the best choice I had. She’d get out of the harsh winter of Maine. She’d be cared for through the night, safe and sound. We’d spend quality time together. I’d get my life back.
But that has yet to happen. Uprooting someone who’s lived in the same place for a half century to a smaller apartment is difficult for anyone, let alone an 82-year-old woman in the throes of Alzheimer’s. Even if the rambling old farmhouse house has become as unfamiliar as the faces of old friends. Memories blend together, a muddled milkshake of her childhood home in Boston, the apartment in Galveston where she and my father lived as newlyweds, our Annapolis row home where I was born.
Was it the right choice?
Too soon to tell, we live moment to moment in the endless flux of dementia. The few random moments I snatch between hovering like a helicopter parent and turning her over to the qualified staff are fleeting, yet appreciated. I am only five minutes away. I can sleep at home with my family, although sleep, too, is a fleeting luxury, peppered by frantic phone calls at midnight, 2am, 4 am. Dreams are reality; she’s more anxious than ever. Last night, convinced she had stumbled upon the cellar where they keep hostages against their will, the calls came every hour. “It was a dark, horrible place filled with people of all nations,” she sobbed. “They kidnapped me.”
Letting go of worry is challenging. For both of us. Letting go of her, allowing the moments to pass and the 24/7 staff to take over, is the hardest thing I have done so far in this journey without end.
“To be in the moment is the miracle,” Osho, the controversial Indian guru, reminds us. Debatable or not, I’ll take it for now.