Prairie Girl in the Woods

My mother grew up in Iowa and lived there for 88 years.  Then she moved in with my younger sister and her hubby in the Santa Cruz mountains in California.

It’s dark in the redwood forest, especially in the winter.  Mom can’t see the sky, which is hard when you’ve looked at the sky every day for almost nine decades.

Mom can’t see the moon at night or a sunset in the late afternoon or evening.  She missed the birds, too, until I bought her a bird feeder and my brother in law rigged it up with a pulley system to hang at my mother’s bedroom window, a dozen plus feet above the ground.

The house is built on a steep slope. It is three levels, with Mom’s bedroom on the bottom floor. It is dark down there, damp in the winter, and cold, too.

But here’s the thing. Mom may be unhappy with her strange surroundings, but at least she is safe from the virus that is running rampant through nursing homes in America.  She used to live in an assisted living place in Iowa with my older sis, but it was just too expensive.

Long story short, Sis moved to California to live with me, and Mom moved back to the senior apartment they’d shared for a decade in Des Moines. But then she fell and slashed her calf on a sharp corner in her bathtub.  It took months to heal, and after that she was afraid to bathe alone.

Mom had a car accident and finally agreed to stop driving. I was grateful since she was going out in ice and snow to do it. Parking was tough at the apartment, and her garage was down a steep incline.

Mom fought getting help to come in, but she finally relented. She was eating a lot of junky food, so my younger sis set her up for Meals on Wheels.

Mom didn’t like the meals, so she was back to TV dinners and protein bars. I should know. I was buying her groceries online and having them delivered to her apartment building.

I went back there to help when Mom was in the hospital and Sis wasn’t able to stay in the apartment alone. I threw out bags and bags of old calendars, thousands of address labels from various charities, decorative candles, and little baskets, each containing one paper clip, a rubber band and  a push pin.

I brought back the red wooden ironing board that my grandma had used. It was too heavy for Mom to set up by herself. I bought her a new lightweight ironing board, but in the end, it got donated along with a lot of other stuff.

Aging isn’t for sissies.  Letting go of your independence is tough. Letting your children make decisions for you is the toughest of all.

I hope I have learned a thing or two from my experiences with my own mother. Like purging those little baskets with three things in them, and always feeding the birds.

It might be the one constant in my life if I end up in a place I didn’t choose.





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