Challenging times

A few weeks ago my 96-year-old mother, Pat, slipped and fell in her cottage behind my sister’s house. She’d forgotten to wear her med alert necklace with the result that she wasn’t found until my sister got home, several hours later.


Mum at Christmas 2010That morning she and her little dog had walked through the garden, weeding and dead-heading. She’d put a lamb chop out to thaw and as always she had made her bed to the standards of a Marine Sergeant.


By nightfall that happy period of her life was over.


She had broken her hip and her arm and the shock of it all had knocked her off the tracks mentally. She got a new hip and the hospital staff kept a close watch on her for a week before she was transferred to an aftercare facility. For the record, at no point in any of the last several weeks have I had any complaint about her care. Orderlies, LVNs, doctors, RNs, nutritionists, speech therapists and custodians have only been kind and patient with my mother.


Now it is time for her to move to an assisted care facility, another disruption that will probably take her months to recover from. There will be more new people asking her questions too fast and not loud enough, a fresh batch of strangers helping her into the bathtub and making her bed – not up to her standards.


Honestly, though my sister has been more than a full partner to me in this, I am emotionally exhausted. Some of this is empathy for my mother with whom I’ve always had a dramatic relationship. Some is feeling sorry for myself. Who likes waking up at five a.m. and worrying until the alarm goes off? And I have to admit that a good portion of my weariness comes from knowing that something like this – the falls, the confusion, the abdication of control over the simplest life functions — lies ahead for me.


Meanwhile, life goes on doing its thing. There are wildfires all over the west and in San Diego the mayor is being urged to resign over sexual misconduct charges. The streets are still full of potholes and the Australia exhibit has opened at the zoo. I am trying to finish a book, I have a husband who isn’t getting enough attention, a garden I don’t have time to water and friends whose calls I forget to return. Bills to pay. A class to teach next week. A speech to give. And this blog to write.


Life goes on regardless of my mother’s slow goodbye.

Filed under Family & Friends, Life Matters | Tags: , , , ,

7 Responses to “Challenging times”

  1. Diane Malloy says:

    Touching words that show us our common bond in this human family of ours. My wishes for comfort and healing for your mom, you and all your family. And love, Diane

    • Janet Dedman says:

      Dear Dru: My heart goes out to you, Margaret and Kip. It is so, so hard to witness those clever, strong-willed women lose their grip on life and reality
      Be patient; you will adjust to the changes in time and then fall in love with the funny, outspoken and feisty woman that your Mum has become. Believe me, it does happen! Love youalways. xx

  2. Diane Solis says:

    Dear Drusilla,

    I hope all is going as well as can be under the circumstances and that life is settling into a new normal for you all. Does your mum’s pup get to visit? It might do both their hearts good. Peace, courage, love,

    Diane Solis
    (We met at the writers conference in San Diego this year. You facilitated the Writer-Cram I attended.)

  3. Elizabeth Katz says:

    Sadly, a fall is what cause/sbrings on considerable problems for the elderly. A fall is what caused my sweet mama’s medical decline. Hugs and prayers for you and your mama. It will not be easy, but, as a daughter, you know you will be there for her…whether she knows you are there or not.

  4. Trish Fehan says:

    Not easy to watch someone you care about lose so much of what makes a person who they are. Hope your mother settles into her new home, over time. Perhaps you will find some peace of mind, knowing she’s in good hands. She’s certainly lucky to have two daughters who care.

  5. Janell Rardon says:

    Hello Drusilla,
    This morning I met a friend of yours, Shelby Hladon! I love the way God works..I meet someone who knows someone…I, too, have been living through my mom’s “own slow goodbye.” The past nine months have been life-altering. I’m trying to find the words to express the depths…you say it so beautifully. I’ve asked myself over and over again, “How do other writers find time to write in the midst of great difficulties…?” Do you have any advice on that? Thank you for sharing your heart…..Blessings!

  6. Dian Greenwood says:


    All too true…that last part about preparing you for where you/I/all of us are going. I recall my own mother’s premature death at sixty and the realization that while she lay in a coma and the doctors had given up, she, that experience was my dress rehearsal. What to do? Just what we all do: we get up and start the laundry or bend in a yoga pose or wash our hair and then we sit down at our desks and carry on for one more day. Bless you.