I. Am. So. Tired. I got home last night around 12:30 after my ~30 hours in Home State; I got a decent night’s sleep but today was busy. By the time I got home, I was almost too tired to move. I’ve been working through emails this evening until I hit a legitimate bedtime: it has arrived.
I’m not sure I can call any trips to Home State “good” at this point but I suppose this one went as well as it could. I flew in, met Cool Friend for a quick lunch, then drove to my mom’s current home. I spent most of Thurs with her, too, before heading back to the airport. It’s a nice enough place; everyone is very pleasant; she has a window with a pretty view. It’s also close enough for visitors, so there’s always someone to drop by every day to say hello.
My dad goes every day. Every. Day. He gets there a little after Mom gets up in the morning; he leaves when she goes to bed in the evening; then he comes back the next day. Everyone there is very impressed with his devotion, and they assure him that having him there is very helpful for her recovery, generally. If I ever doubted that my dad loved my mother – which I didn’t – this more than proves it. He still teases her and jokes with her; she still laughs at his corny jokes; they still fuss when he’s trying to get her to eat something she doesn’t want. It hurts your heart in good and bad ways to see them together.
It’s hard seeing Mom as she is: frail and confused. She’s recovering physically from her surgery, so that’s good, but her mind continues the slide. She has sparks: she recognized me in a photo, she told me how pretty I looked one day, she called my sister by name, she loves it when my little brother visits. And she still knows Dad; she asks for him if he’s out of her sight for very long.
I sat with Mom – just us – for a little bit yesterday, filing her fingernails and talking to her. I told her I wouldn’t see her for awhile, that I was leaving to go overseas, and she nodded and looked pensive. When I told her the country, she repeated it and then spelled the name of another country in Europe: “That’s where you’re going?” “Yes, Mama, that’s the place.” I told her that I was dating a good man and I would miss him once I went overseas; she smiled and nodded. I told her this reminded me of her with her mother; she did Grandma’s nails when she visited her in the nursing home, and I thought how the generations keep repeating. I cried a little, for many reasons – and then I got on a plane.
I’ll always feel guilty about my family: that we’re not closer, literally and figuratively; that I don’t do as much as I could or should; that I don’t visit enough; that I’ve made our interactions so difficult through the years; that I don’t try hard enough to bridge the distances. I don’t know how to be anyone other than myself and that self has never managed to fit comfortably into my family. But I did the best I could with this quick visit, and I’ll hope it’s enough for everyone’s sake in the long run.