Yeah. I wish that had been true. She had known me for 25 years. For the most part, she ignored me and my children. She came around during holidays bearing the latest trendy gift or ‘As Seen on TV’products, but she never had time to sit and visit, not even with her son. She never babysat the kids when they were small. She never came to a soccer game or watched her granddaughter dance or cheer- she was too busy shopping or going out with her friends. Where are all those things she bought and all those friends now? Gone. In it's place a mountain of debt and a phone that never rings.
While she ran around town with her co-workers, women my age, she never invited me to go with her to the mall or to lunches. She never took the time to get to know me or ask me how I was doing. In 25 years she never offered to help me do anything. She did not reach out to comfort me when I lost my dad, and then suddenly three years later my mom. She was never there when any of us were sick or in distress. She was not like a mother to me. She wasn’t even like a mother in law. She chose not to be my friend. She chose not to be included in our lives. She was my husband’s mother. And now she has Alzheimer’s.
I’m in such a strange situation. I am caring for someone who never really showed any care for me. She was never hateful or outright mean to me . She was just absent, passive aggressive sometimes and selfish almost all the time. It was easy to just be polite during holidays and smile and be complacent because we rarely saw her, even though she and her husband lived just 12 miles away! Now I’m feeding her and wiping her mouth clean. I speak to her with a soft kind voice. I hug her when she cries and calm her by telling her funny stories and I agree with everything she says so that she doesn’t get upset.
My husband, her son, makes her aggravated and nervous. He isn’t naturally calm or patient. I am. I hold her arm and stroke her palm. I sweet talk her into her bed and cover her with blankets. I decorated a little Christmas tree and have it twinkling by her bed. I do it because she is my husband’s mother and grandmother to my kids. I care because she is a human being struggling with a disease.
She never loved me- not really. Because of that- I don’t know if I ever loved her then either.
But in this little room in a nursing home in Watauga, Texas, is a vulnerable and frightened woman who reaches for me to hold hands with the past. She is grasping for anything familiar.
She may not always know me, but she does love me. I can see it in her eyes. And after 25 years i dont know her either, but i know that I love her too.