Letter from a Mother to a Daughter

Aging

As I deal with my aging mother, I find myself sometimes exasperated and impatient. She’s 82 and still trying to maintain as much independence as possible. She makes it to her Koffee Klatch and Silver Fox Exercise classes and Saturday night “karaoke.” She visits with friends as she walks her dog, Pepper. But we notice a little more confusion and repetition. We have to check on her medications and remind her about eating instead of just having a Coke. She doesn’t argue about driving anymore. Some days are better than others.

And then I read this letter. I don’t really make New Year’s Resolutions, but I think I’ll readjust my attitude about being her sole caregiver. I found this letter on Facebook and I have no idea who wrote it or who these two people (pictured above) are. But they are me and my mom. Maybe they’re you and yours. And hopefully, someday, they’ll be my daughters and me.

“My dear girl, the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through.

If when we talk, I repeat the same thing a thousand times, don’t interrupt to say: “You said the same thing a minute ago”… Just listen, please. Try to remember the times when you were little and I would read the same story night after night until you would fall asleep.

When I don’t want to take a bath, don’t be mad and don’t embarrass me. Remember when I had to run after you making excuses and trying to get you to take a shower when you were just a girl?

When you see how ignorant I am when it comes to new technology, give me the time to learn and don’t look at me that way… remember, honey, I patiently taught you how to do many things like eating appropriately, getting dressed, combing your hair and dealing with life’s issues every day… the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through.

If I occasionally lose track of what we’re talking about, give me the time to remember, and if I can’t, don’t be nervous, impatient or arrogant. Just know in your heart that the most important thing for me is to be with you.

And when my old, tired legs don’t let me move as quickly as before, give me your hand the same way that I offered mine to you when you first walked.

When those days come, don’t feel sad… just be with me, and understand me while I get to the end of my life with love.

I’ll cherish and thank you for the gift of time and joy we shared. With a big smile and the huge love I’ve always had for you, I just want to say, I love you… my darling daughter.”

 Gma and Pepper
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9 thoughts on “Letter from a Mother to a Daughter

  1. Wow. I’ll be coming back and rereading that. I’ve realized lately my anger and frustration when dealing with difficulties with my mother are often covering up my real emotions – intense sadness and panic at watching her lose parts of what she has been (and she’s really only started down that road the last few years). It’s easier to be angry than to cry. She reads my blog so I’ll never write about it there.

    • I think we’re moving into that age where this is more common than it was. We used to have our stories of our kids to share, and now we have aging parents as well. You make a great point that it’s easier to be angry than to cry. You brought up good points.
      And my mom only reads my blog if I print out a piece for her. So it’s a safe spot.
      If you want to write more here in the comment, to help vent or process, you are more than welcome to do that. It can be a safe spot for you too. (((hugs)))

  2. Just an opinion…if possible hire someone to do the caretaking part so you can be the daughter. You can hire someone to keep tabs on meds,etc., but you can’t hire anyone to love unconditionally with a patience fueled by those memories of being the one cared for and loved unconditionally.
    As a nurse, you probably automatically jump to do the things your mom needs a nurse to do, but you will wear through yourself faster trying to be nurse and daughter. The love and care I have for g’mom is like a houseplant. When I put it in the sunny window, water it regularly, and add some Miracle Grow, then it flourishes and is a joy to behold. But if I put it in a dark closet and take away everything it needs to thrive, then it predictably withers. Luckily, the roots of love are strong enough to survive long bouts of withering neglect, but it can be an ugly thing to have to look at. Turn your face to the sun and seek out the people and services that will feed your ability to be the unconditionally loving daughter and your relationship with your mom a joy.

  3. I don’t have nearly the number of “tasks” to do that you have with your grandma. She doesn’t ask for anything, so when I get busy, there’s not a lot of checking. That’s when I notice that pills were missed or food is still in the fridge. And her memory is such that she can’t really recall what the situation was to make those things happen/not happen. I did pay a dog walker when she broke her wrist and Pepper needed twice a day walking. that was good because another set of eyes were checking on her daily – and she really wanted to get back to her apt. and off my couch.
    In thinking about what you wrote, it’s the repetitive conversations that get under my skin, not really the tasks. I think it triggers my old feelings of her not bothering to listen to me. And now, it’s not from “not bothering,” it’s simply an inability to retain.
    Good things to mull over. Thanks for writing!!

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  5. Here I am, with my aged mother-in-law, helping her adjust to widowhood. She’s a tiny thing, not yet feeble, but frail. Her spirit is solid, if not always strong. I’ve been touched by this picture since the first time I came across it and, after a month of bonding ever closer, I believe I will seek out a framed version and present it to her. Such love.

  6. Tidelines, thank you for commenting. We all have a great deal in common, don’t we?
    Sending you and your mother love…

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  8. This letter reminded me of my relationship with my Aunt Shirley who raised me in my teenage years. I was responsible for her in her declining years. I had to remind myself she was no longer always capable for making decisions for herself which were in her best interests while maintaining her self esteem. I would not have become who I am today if it was not for her love and guidance. I do not share the same history my siblings have with our Mother which sometimes I feel they do not understand. I hope my daughter will feel about me as I get older the way the unknown writer did in this letter.

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