Written by Bev Knapton
~In honour of Family Caregiver Month, we asked our community to share their personal stories about caregiving—the joys, the challenges, insights gained—to share with other caregivers and our larger communities. Here is one such submission…
My mom has reached the age of 103 years old. My mom, I think at this age, is totally unique. Last year when Trump was going to be impeached she declined an invitation for dinner because she didn’t want to miss CNN. I can never remember what day it is so I always ask Mom. Ask her about her youth and she confesses she couldn’t make up her mind whether she liked speed skating or competing in Highland Fling competitions. Her favourite dance was the sword dance.
That was then, and now is now. Mom fell at Christmas time—no, it wasn’t because she had consumed her “short ones”—she just “went down.” Yes, both hips broke. It’s been a downhill spiral and I won’t admit the shortcomings of my siblings but Mom had to leave hospital and I volunteered to give care. I figured that it would be about two months of having mom park in my guest bedroom with her own TV. We would have dinner together, share a glass of wine and play cards in the evening or watch a Netflix movie.
I never dreamt of what it would really be like. Did I mention that I am 75? And, five years ago, I was in a horrible car crash that claimed the life of my beloved husband and my little dog. I was in a coma for three weeks as well. I always tell people, “I may have broken 17 bones and lost my spleen but I never broke a nail.” I totally recovered, thanks to God, ICBC and drugs.
Today, though, it looks like my two months is going to be one hell of a lot longer than I thought and an awful lot more work. My living room and entrance has been turned into a full hospital room: two wheelchairs, three different types of walkers, commodes, hammock lift… the whole schmear. My brother laughed and said, “Yikes, Bev. Your dining room looks like a thrift store: coffee and end tables stacked on the dining room table, which is pushed against the wall, couch pushed against that with footstools on top…” Add to that the morphine (I could make a fortune if I sold it), blood thinners and a myriad of other drugs. That is all okay, though. The part that makes me cry is she has quit eating, has lost interest in everything—and I mean everything—cannot walk even two steps without shaking and needing support and sleeps 90% of the time. This is the woman who danced with the waiter last September at age 103. My mom.