Today we gathered to celebrate Momma's 88th birthday. Her birthday is on Friday, but this is the day that we could all get together for lunch at the Benton House. That is where she now lives. She doesn't really know that is where she lives. She doesn't really know we were celebrating her birthday. She doesn't really know me, or the rest of the family.
We have been staying in their home. I have been cleaning out some things. I have been remembering. It is comforting and healing - as well as VERY emotional! (Now, before you get mad at me for not calling or seeing you while in town, hear me out!)
We never know when we will be able to leave our house, or how long we will be able to stay once we get here. Also, we never really know what our trip will entail. Most of our time is spent catching up with family and helping with Momma and Daddy. The rest is usually spent sleeping and regrouping after our long drive and lack of sleep. Then, we head back home. Rarely is there ever a minute for anything extra.
It isn't that we don't want to see people and catch up with old friends and family. We just are always torn. We are always pulled in so many directions. I find myself in emotional turmoil and dealing with grief and sorrow and floods of memories. The question haunts me, "is this the last time I'll see them????"
So, if we did not let you know we were in town, please forgive me. Just know that I could not handle one more thing.
It is always good to come. We said as we drove in on I-20 and got the first glimpse of Atlanta, that it felt good, comforting, like coming home. I love Atlanta. I love Georgia. My roots go deep here.
It is hard to explain the mishmash of emotions. The sights of my childhood. The floods of memories... the newness of the expanding skyline... the wonderings of where old friends are now living... what are they doing ... HOW are they doing?
The excitement and anticipation of seeing and doing is at the forefront of my mind. Yet, right along side it is the grief that it is not the same. The sadness that loved ones are failing.
I see my parents aging so quickly. They are approaching 90. Daddy is dealing with the loss of his freedom and trying to give up some of his control. He can be bullheaded and grumpy, a little on the negative and complaining side. Momma is sweet and fairly compliant. There are times when her little rebellion comes out. Like the other day when they gave her some yogurt. She did not want it. She knew they had put medicine in it and so she just leaned over the side of her chair and spewed it all over the floor. She sat up and glared at them refusing to open her mouth for another bite.
This visit she did not know me. I never got the slightest glimmer of recognition in her eyes. She came to life when my sister came in. Of course, Joye does visit often and live close and spends lots of time with her. I understand. Momma sees me only a few times a year. She is slipping farther and farther away from us. She is getting more and more non-responsive.
The only thing she said to me was that she wanted to go to heaven, NOW! She also begged God over and over to take her home. I understand. She does not want to be a burden. She does not want to live in a personal care home. She does not like the state of life she is in.
She would be horrified to know how she looks. It is hard not to be able to control your bodily functions. Humiliating to have to have someone take care of you in that way. It is a frightening thing to not know where you are and to not know anyone. She asks to go home. When she was home she asked to go home, so it isn't that she is someplace else. She just does not recognize where she is. At times she thinks her husband (daddy) is her daddy. Then she doesn't know him and fights him when he tries to help her.
I leave here in the morning. I come when I can. I stay as long as I'm able. The toll it takes on me is huge. I love living close to my children and grandchildren. That is a gift from God. It is an answer to my prayers.
The pull to be in both places is unexplainable and at times unbearable.
I trust God to be enough. I trust Him to have me where I need to be when I need to be there. I believe that He is orchestrating my life and ordering my steps.
There is joy in the morning... I will be headed back to play with grandbabies. That is the future! That is the fun, the life, the laughter ...
I am blessed!