seconds later and a little louder in her weak voice
“what mom, what’s the matter”
“where are you?”
“I’m right here, bringing in firewood, what wrong?”
“nothing, I just didn’t know where you were”
“okay, I’ll be right in”
A few minutes later, it’s the same scene,
She does not like me to be too far away from her these days. She checks for me often. If I’m in the office or my sewing nook downstairs , she calls to me.
“I’m down here mom”
“okay, just checking”
Sometimes, if I’m sewing, she comes down and joins me and she curls up on the couch in the heat of the wood stove and she nods off. (that’s my favorite, so I know where she is too )
So many people comment about the stubborn people in their families. We all have them, or we are them. (sorry, about the grammar) I think stubbornness could be misunderstood some of the time. As people age, what we perceive sometimes as being stubborn is actually their insecurity.
Mom carts a lot around with her everyday, 3 bags. She has her pocket book (1) cram packed with, I don’t even know what. The other bag (2) is a cloth like shopping bag, in that one she has a few word search books (most have a pen or pencil stuck in the binding), incontinence pads, tissues ( always so many tissues) and a few other odds and ends. The small bag (3) fits inside the larger bag, in that one are more tissues (again, for her ever running nose) and she has a few skeins of her crochet cotton and a crochet hook, (which she never uses)
“mom, why don’t you leave the bags here, or take just the smaller one with you”
“well it is a lot to carry everyday”
she defensively, almost panicky replies
“no, I want it with me, I might have a few minutes to crochet, I just want to have it with me”
“okay, just thought I’d mention it”
I would never battle with her over it, I mean, it is a pain in the neck to carry her bags around. I know she isn’t being stubborn, it goes deeper than that, you can see it on her face. I think it is a secure feeling, to have the familiar things with her, things that she thinks she needs or should have. She has always carried at least her pocket book, but now she insists on the extra bags too. Mind you, she isn’t the one to carry them, her bus driver carries them to the bus and when I get her off the bus I carry them into the house. She does, however, have them hanging on the arm of her chair at day care everyday. She has forgotten her cane, but never her bags. So she has all of this luggage to take with her and she feels good about it.
There once was a day where she could pack for 7 of us for a weekend at camp and have it all in the car with all seven people and we fit comfortably – so she once packed lightly.
I wish I knew what she was thinking about when she insists on bringing her bags because, she does not use anything from any of the bags except for the tissues. But really, so what if she carries a few extra bags around wherever she goes, I don’t think that it is just that she is being stubborn, I believe it gives her that sense of comfort.
Mom has been walking with a cane for a very long time. I believe at first it was for security. One year when Bruce was here visiting he wanted to bring Mom to Fenway for a game so she brought her cane (it was new at the time and we had to walk a little ways). The staff and security at Fenway Park treated mom like a queen, she got to cut in line and go through the large gate they opened for her, none of the rest of us could go just her.
I think Barbara was the one to encourage Mom to use a cane way back , she even bought her a pretty pink flowered one. So over the past 20 years she has grown familiar with the use of a cane.
When the insurance and health care, committee, I’ll call them, came to evaluate moms mobility they told her she should be using a walker. One was provided for her through her insurance. Mom would push the walker out of her way and wobbly walk around it to get where she wanted to be.
“Mom, you’re suppose to be using that”
”oh, I’m just going to the bathroom”
”I understand, but that is the point, your suppose to use it”
” oh, it’s too bulky”
and it went like that for a very long time, months. So I finally folded it up ant put it in the closet.
Every once in a while I bring it out and try to encourage her to use it, but she still pushes it out of her way and now even wobblier walks around it.
Is she being stubborn? I mean I believe that the stubbornness lies in her genes, and she definitely has that gene, but is that refusal to use her walker just being stubborn or is it more?
I have noticed lately when we are walking to the car or into the house she reaches for my hand with her free hand and uses her cane with the other, similar to the security of a walker, dang it. But it is another change and one more thing she would need to adjust too. Again, the cane is familiar to her, it is what she understands. Not stubbornness alone but also security in the familiar.
I reply but she can’t hear
“yup mom, I”m in the office”
I hear the back door open and I know she is going out on the deck looking for me.
I come out of the office and up the stairs
“mom, are you looking for me?”
I’m never far from her.
I still remember as a child the comfort that I found just hearing the dishes clanging in the kitchen, or the cabinets closing and opening as she bustled about the kitchen. I loved the noise of the vacuum when I laid sick on the couch. There is so much comfort just knowing that the person that cares for you is close by. I had the best secure and comforting childhood (12 and under) and I knew where mom was all of the time.
When she calls out to me, tying to find me around the house, I equate her need to know where I am, to what I felt as a child. That she must need that same comfort and security that she once provided for me.
“yes, I didn’t know where you were”
“I am in the office doing some work, I’ll be right up”
I look at her and I still see my secure independent mom – but her behavior shows me something else. I hope I can provide the same comfort that she provided for me.