Lately, my mom has been in and out of the hospital. After a difficult month, she is now in a rehab facility trying to get back some strength. At eighty-six, it's not easy, but she is doing remarkably well. Much to her relief, I've taken over her finances. I spent several hours changing the address on bills so they would come directly to me and then spent four frustrating hours trying to straighten out her checkbook, only to find out there was nothing wrong with it. The check book didn't jive with the bank because she forgot to tell me that she has a couple of bills that are automatically deducted from her account. Often her explanations are confusing because she can't always come up with the right words.
She took care of my father during his lengthy battle with Alzheimer's. However, since his death nearly ten years ago, my mom began relying on me to give her advice and help her make decisions. This role reversal is not only difficult, but heart wrenching. It's bad enough to watch as the years have taken their toll. Her back is bent and she walks with a cane. Her beautiful face is creased and her skin is thin and fragile and heals very slowly, if at all. The slightest pressure causes agony, bruising and sometimes scars. Still, even the physical changes aren't at difficult to accept as watching her loss of confidence in herself.
She was my rock. As a teenager, I fought her tooth and nail. We rarely agreed, yet I valued her opinion (not that I ever let her know that.). She taught me that as a woman I could do or be anything I wanted to be. She loved my father, but even having been raised in an era when many women considered themselves reliant on and sometimes subservient to men, my parents operated as a unit, with equal say in all decisions. They fought as passionately as they loved.
Now she hesitates to make a decision without consulting me. Thankfully, most of the time her mind is clear, even when she tells me that her insurance is paid by her credit card when it is really paid directly from her checking account. She knows what she means.