Right now my sisters and I are experiencing one of the great ironies of life: when the child becomes the caretaker of the elderly parent. With my mother in her present condition and residing at the Highland Nursing Home in Massena, a situation I experienced last weekend particularly drove this point home.
Last Saturday, I was able to take my mother out to the mall for the first time since she had fallen and broken her hip the night before Mother's Day. She was absolutely thrilled to be there to see all her "friends," and the ones she ran into were equally happy to see her looking so healthy and well. If I haven't mentioned it before, for a long time now, but particularly in the seven years since my father's death, my mother has compulsively bought cheap stuff (some [like me] would call it "junk") with every trip to the mall. Over the years, this stuff has piled up on every surface in the house, and made for a very cluttered and dangerous living situation. In fact, she bought and wore such crappy jewelry all the time that my sister had to take her to the doctor last year for a very bad rash on her face and neck.
Well, as I pushed her in her wheelchair around the mall she insisted that we go into all her favorite haunts to check out the clearance rack. It was at this time that I found myself saying, "We're not going to buy anything today, we're just out for a nice walk around the mall." BOY, did she get mad. It definitely reminded of when I took the kids to the mall when they were younger and had to spend the entire car ride on the way there setting expectations: "We're not going to buy anything today, we're just going to look around." Somehow, the meltdown was rarely averted. It was a very weird feeling.
All these changes, milestones on the journey that comes with having an aging parent.