5 Minute Friday: Hard Love

Once again, it’s Friday.  And that means it’s time to try and link up with Lisa-Jo over at the Gypsy Mama.  Five minutes of unedited writing, this time on the topic of hard love.  For me the topic today is about 180 degrees from where Lisa-Jo went with it…

She waits in the guest room, right next door to me as I type these words.  I can hear her shuffling things around, waiting for me to emerge from my Good Friday afternoon nap.  We’ve been to a remarkable service today at the local Episcopal church where we heard a male sextet sing an Atakhist – a song of deep thanksgiving written by an Eastern Orthodox monk while living out a difficult life in a Russian gulag in the 1930’s.  It was gorgeous – such a contrast to the events we were there to commemorate – and yet such a powerful reminder of the glorious gifts of God in this world, this place, this home of ours.

And I think she got most of it.  It’s very hard to tell.

She is nearing 90.  16 months ago, her youngest and most troubled child died in his sleep.  Six years ago, her partner of 64 years died after three years of a lingering, wasting illness in which he became unable to say to his wife, “You’re wearing yourself out caring for me – let’s find me a place to be where you can rest at night and I can be tended.”  In the last 5 years, she has slowly, agonizingly lost almost all of her vision to macular degeneration and she’s also lost an increasing amount of her ability to hear conversations.

She has lost a lot of her independence.  And most hard for me, most difficult for her, she has lost the ability to respond to life as she once did: with spunk, fiestiness, joyful laughter and an amazingly creative ability to rise to the challenge.

It is sometimes very hard to love her as I once did.  And it is very hard for her to love anyone as she once did.  So we rely on a long history of shared affection, commitment and memories to get us through the rough times.

In some ways she reminds me of my 5 year old grandchildren – volatile emotionally, insecure at times, frightened by abrupt changes in life or schedule, confused by what’s happening around them.  So I am learning that the best thing to do to show her my love is what I do to them – wrap my arms around her, kiss her soundly on the cheek and say something like.  “All better now.  I love you.  You’re the best (kid) (mom) I know.  I’m here to help.  What can I do?”

She’ll be heading home again on Easter afternoon, to that little apartment at the retirement community about 2 and a half hours south of me.  And I will be both sad and relieved.   That’s what’s hard about love right now.


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  1. And that’s one of the greatest ironies of all – the hard love, the love that wrings you dry and hurts your heart, is also the most beautiful of all. There is such beauty in setting aside comfort and self to just love, just love. Thank you for sharing this today. It blessed me.

  2. Beautiful. Makes me miss my grandma, who is about that age and similarly affected by it. How lovely that you purpose to spend time with her even in this difficult season. Thank you.

  3. Beautiful. As a visiting nurse I see the love between adult children and elderly parents often–and it can be both beauiful and heart wrenching.

  4. Oh, Diana! I so get this. My parents live with us. My father has Parkinson’s and dementia. His care is causing my mother to age quickly. There’s not much else to say…..but, thank you for this beautiful and honest post.

  5. Wow, Lady Dorothy – you’re a better man than I!! I do not think I could do what you’re doing – live with my mom. I am trying to convince her to transfer up to the Samarkand here in SB when the time comes for assisted living – which may be sooner than either of us would wish. My dad died of complications from Parkinson’s and Parkinson’s related dementia – so yes, I know exactly what you’re dealing with. I idolized my dad most of my life and admired my parents’ marriage. But when he became unable to see what it was costing my mom to care for him, it just blew me away. Had to pray my way through that one – and still am, six years after his death. Many, many blessings as you care for your parents, especially your mom as she cares for your dad.