Thursday, October 07, 2010

Helping where I can

Last night I got to take dinner to a couple from church. They are caring for the wife’s mom, who is dying. When I got there, I was met by one of the couple’s daughters, who’d arranged to take care of her grandmother so her mom could have a night off. The other daughter talked with me earlier in the week, letting me know her mom could use some help with meals since she’s so consumed with all that goes on with caring for her dying mom. It was a picture of a family coming together in a heartbreaking, trying time, and it made me sad I’m not in Atlanta right now, helping my Dad take care of his mom.

My family and Mama Mary,
October 2009
Dad’s mom, Mama Mary, is 94, and lived on her own until just a few years ago. She’s always been on the tough side; she lived through the Great Depression and always worked several jobs. I don’t remember ever sharing a quiet moment with her or snuggling up next to her. I do remember being a little afraid of her and often spent the 45 minutes it took to drive from our home to hers wishing my Dad would turn the car around. But inevitably we’d drive down the Atlanta Highway from Stone Mountain to Snellville to Loganville, through Between (yep, it’s a real town), and end up in Monroe. We’d drive up her steep driveway, park on the gravel outside the carport, step out of the car and smell lunch. She may not have baked cookies but honey, she sure did whip up a mean batch of creamed corn, corn bread and green beans.

She’s not doing well now. My cousin saw her last week and let us know we should visit if we can. My sister went two days ago; her report mirrored my cousin’s. Mama Mary's 94. She’s old. She’s dying.

I wish I were there to help my Dad. I wish I could take a turn at the nursing home and give my parents a break like my friend Jen did last night for her folks. Of course, it’s kind of hard to do that from 800 miles away.

I hope my grandmother hangs on through Thanksgiving so I can see her. But another part of me hopes she doesn’t. She is in pain and she’s not going to get better. If there were a chance she could recover enough to move back to her apartment at the assisted living place, I’d pray for that. And who knows? It does seem the ornery ones hang on longer. But it’s not looking good and I don’t want her to suffer.

I’m not there; I can’t help Mama Mary or my Dad. But I can help where I am and I’m glad I got to take a little food over to my friends. In a small way it helped me feel connected to my family. Now if only I’d thought make green beans and cornbread…