The last hymn we sang in church today was Make Me a Servant:
Make me a servant, humble and meek,
Help me to lift up those who are weak
As I sang that second line, I felt my throat tighten and my eyes sting with tears. How very apt, especially after I had literally helped lift my mom to her feet several times during the service.
I also had to take her to the church bathroom twice, right before the service and again in the middle, causing us to miss most of the sermon. While we were in there the second time, she commented wryly that “Something’s wrong when taking care of your mom becomes more trouble than taking care of a toddler.” I just smiled and tried to shrug it off, but I was pretty frazzled… especially when I had to run to my car, parked a block away because we got there too late to claim one of the few parking spaces behind the church that are reserved for the elderly and handicapped, to get her a clean pair of disposable underwear. Maybe I should start carrying a diaper bag, just as if she really was a toddler.
She has lost twenty pounds in the last couple of months. It feels like she’s wasting away before my very eyes, and it frightens me. I vacillate between being stressed out (about her health, about finances, about all the responsibilities that fall on me) and just being grateful for every single moment I get to spend with her.
I’m working on my attitude toward all of this, trying to focus on the gratitude part and cultivate a spirit of loving service. Earlier this week I had thought to make my next blog post in praise of the caregivers at her new home, how they go above and beyond what I had previously come to expect of caregivers. Everything they do, even when their residents are querulous, is done with patience and a smile. Nothing seems to rattle them. They take it all in stride, just smile and calmly attend to the needs of the moment. This is what I’m working on, what I’m striving for.
This work, being a caregiver for my mom, this is the work of my soul right now — tempering and shaping my spirit for whatever is to come next. Even when I feel resentful, I know this is where I’m supposed to be right now, what I’m meant to do. I have no idea how much longer I’ll have this job, or what I’ll do with my life when this phase of it is over. So for right now I’m really trying to stay in the moment, to enjoy the little things like holding Mom’s hand in church, and to be grateful for the opportunity to be of service.