Story ‣ Mother You Could Live 10 More Years

Mother suffered her initial stroke when she was 82. She continued to experience, what the doctor labeled, mini strokes thereafter.

With her first stroke, she knew a great deal of her memory was lost. She forgot where everything was stored in the kitchen.

She’d open one frustrating door/drawer after another searching. Later, as her condition worsened, she’d lose even the ability to understand her limitations.

Mother’s high school graduation picture.

Three years later, she and dad moved to an assisted care facility.

We all want to be in control of our lives. Mother was no different. I visited as frequently as I could given I lived 500 miles away.

On one visit, the nurse came in with mother’s meds. “Take them away. I don’t want them,” mother said.

I could tell by the nurse’s resigned expression this was fairly typical.

“Mother,” I began. You know how we pronounce “mother” when indicating that we know what’s best for our parent and they need to fall in line with our way of thinking? Well, that was my unfortunate and rarely-used tone of voice.

“Mother, you could live 10 more years if you take your meds and follow your doctor’s instructions.”

Mother sagged in her chair. I mean sagged in every sense of the word. Her face, her body, her mental state all slid right down mentally hitting the floor.

Finally, she looked at me and uttered this sentence. “I hope not, Kathy.”

“I hope not”? How could she hope not?

I hadn’t so much as made senior citizen status yet. I was healthy, had all my faculties and wits about me. And I wanted to live. Had many reasons to want to live.

Mother was “stuck” in a nursing facility, confined to a wheelchair, never knew what day, month or year it was. The list was endless. And I’m telling her she could live another 10 years if she followed her doctor’s instructions?

Now, I realize I wouldn’t want to live two more days under those circumstances. What I didn’t understand then, I comprehend now. Like mother, I do not want to outlive my life either.