The Mother of Unconvention

As dementia claims her mother's memory, her condition offers a chance for balance and understanding.

by Jeanette McMahon • Member { View Profile }

Because of this, I realized that (with the exception of moments when she can't find the right words due to memory loss) she is often much freer in her communication and expression of herself than I am. This doesn't surprise me, as I continually discover areas of rigidity in my personality and behavior that I'd like to shake loose. I want to let go of the need to do it "right" and just enjoy the reality of doing - just be present with my mother, enjoying wherever the conversation takes us because I'm not attached to things looking, sounding, or feeling a certain way.

Assumption 2: Whatever I have to say should be of interest to my mother because, well, she's my mother.

The little kid in me was still expecting mom's world to revolve around me — this one made me laugh when I realized it was still there. I didn't have to question any further, because I know how unrealistic it is to expect another person to put me and my happiness before their own, even if that person happens to be my mother.

Because of all this, I came to see — first with surprise, then amusement, then appreciation — how I had not acknowledged the teacher that my mother is, even now. Periodically she will say, "I hope you girls learned something good from me," as though she hasn't contributed to who we are as people. But I think the active part of influence is in the receiving, rather than that which is deemed influential. I learn from mom all the time, whether she realizes it or not. I believe that as long as people are participating in this physical existence, they have the ability — through whatever they are living — to inspire and influence another. Taking on the responsibilities of power of attorney, medical advocate, and financial advocate had led me to the mistaken notion that I also needed to orchestrate mom's thought process. How wonderful it was for her to show me that I didn’t need to (or able to) do this. The parts we play in relationships are much more fluid. The roles between mom and I have been reversed, and then reversed again, continuing to refine who we are both together and as individuals.

I know just how fortunate I am to experience the continuing clarity that she provides, just by being who she is. I am also glad to have the opportunity to uplift her as the beautiful, powerful creator and contributor that she continues to be - it beats the hell out of feeling powerless in the face of her failing body and health. I look forward to more opportunities to challenge my assumptions about what is right, what is good, and what is worthwhile, and I love and cherish my mother for being an active participant in this process.

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