Thursday, October 28, 2010

Florence Nightingbint - the lady with the lighter

I wasn’t cut out for nursing my mother, that I can tell you. Mom was an angel in hospital, but then they kept her doped up to the eyeballs. After that, she was a handful-and-a-half and crotchety to go with it. Morphine! Morphine! Never mind her, I could have used a shot!

Yes, I know I was uncharitable. She was in pain, and she had just been told her condition was terminal.

Oh yes, Ministering Angels: despite my own irritability (You noticed it? Never!) and grief (less said the better), I was really good – believe it or not.

I maintained a relaxed and even smiling countenance. I mopped up what needed mopping up, gave bed baths, changed dressings, helped up, helped down, ran errands, made chicken soup, made barley water, fetched, carried and got up several times a night when needed. I treated her with utmost gentleness.

She was in pain and grumpy – she couldn’t help it. She said that I walked too fast in the passage, that I touched her too much (how else was I to help her?) and (repeatedly) that I should get breath freshener because my breath smelled of tobacco. It does. I sucked mints for Mom, but one doesn’t first look for the mints when you’ve just killed a smoke and are urgently summoned.

‘Don’t be cross’ she said. ‘Are you cross?’

‘Yes, but it doesn’t matter.’

‘It does matter, very much.’

And now, of course, I can hardly forgive myself for admitting my mild annoyance. I should have lied.

One evening, I stopped at the pub and had a beer. It was nice to relax in a convivial atmosphere for a few minutes. Five hours later, I was asked ‘Have you been drinking?’ and this with a suspicious stare, as if she thought I was about to flake out or puke on the carpet (neither of which are things I do in case you were wondering...)

At the same time, she called me her ‘ministering angel’

‘Yes’ I joked

‘The Lady with Lighter’

She wasn’t amused, poor thing.

Todays' pic. Can't find anything that says something, but this one says nothing at all.


  1. Reading about your experience takes me right back to mine. Six years ago I cared for my brother who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Sounds like you did everything you could and cared for your mom wonderfully.

    Don't let the should've would'ves get to you. They are inevitable with anyone who cares for someone in these situations and we all have a tendency to tare ourselves apart over them after it's all said and done. There is no point to it, so do yourself a favor and let those thoughts go when they come.

    By the way, I like the pic, it says close up and personal to me.

  2. Dealing with sick people can be tiring and emotionally grating. It's no party for us either. I try to be as pleasant as possible, but I know my sense of humor and tolerance shrink on bad days and people get offended.

    If you can't think of a more appropriate picture and need places to find images of hot Asian women, just contact me and I can help you help bunny up the Internet.

  3. You're too hard on yourself, I think. Your mom loved you and you loved your mom, and she knew it. You were there for her, and I think that is the best anyone can do for someone else. I think you're an amazing person. You have so much passion and compassion, it shows in everything you say.

  4. Caretaking is the hardest job in the world--no time off and you know tomorrow will be the same, or worse. You were coping, Lady with Lighter.

  5. Your photo references cross purposes, mixed feelings, cross words and an unexpected openness. Or it could say nothing at all.

    My sisters took care of both of my parents in their final years/days. I'm sure they still resent me horribly for not being there. Cross feelings, cross words, cross purposes.

    I'm certain they (my sisters) would relate very much to your post. It's hard to take care of people who are ill. Very hard.

  6. TK: I'm touched by your sharing of your personal experience - and you're right, of course. Thanks for the support!

    Grant: no, no. I'm still trying to find pictures of hot Asian women that you haven't found yet! Have patience lad!

    Heff: Serious!

    CW: Well, I've gone all flighty all of a sudden, but I suppose its good to do so now that I can. Thanks also for your supportive comments throughout my saga.

    HW: I see that this is something you've been through too. You've also been a comforting commentator. Its nice to know people care.

    PAMO: Dash it all, you do the art-speak so nicely. Yes, yes, I meant all those things, of course I did - I was just pulling your leg when I said it 'says nothing'.

    Whew. Are you convinced???