Nearly everyone has a mother-in-law story. I encourage everyone to remain independent and in their own homes. This doesn’t mean they can’t participate in outside functions, attend family activities or have special outings with friends. A little help is all others need.
Does aging have to be depressing? Why does aging have to be so lonely? Why don’t we value life experiences of others and listen to history from the sources of others who have been there?
My mother-in-law was born in 1910. You can only imagine all the changes that occurred between 1910 and 2006. I won’t go into detail here, but she was delightful to spend time with, but there are many sides to any story.
I had the advantage of not being her offspring. Hence, I had a different perspective than her children. I will not discount any thing her offspring has said, except that they are all entitled to think and feel as they did about their childhood for whatever reason.
I called my mother-in-law “mom”. She died at the age of 96 at our home and until her last week was independent with her self-care and all her life decisions. She read daily, loved romance novels, worked crossword puzzles, exercised, ate well and maintained her own checkbook and finances. She was in control.
Our dog became her companion and her “best friend”. She regretted never having a dog. We all have some regrets in life.
Mom moved in with us in 2003. She told everyone “If I knew you were this bad I would not have moved in.” It really crushed mom to see what life was like after traumatic brain injury. She was clueless, but so are many. This was a perfect example how things can appear “normal”, until you get a closer view from the inside. It’s simply the truth about an invisible injury.
As I struggled to exist I continued aquatic exercise daily. Mom found the ride pleasurable. She talked about the beauty of scenery, the lovely ride, people she was meeting, and life was looking good to her. She found the warm water aquatics soothing to her aged body, and healing for her soul. I wanted her to embrace her new life and experience things she could not do living alone 60 miles away.
She was threatened by her healthcare providers after a fall that they would put her in a nursing home. This was a woman who was doing well with an exception of age-related problems. Balance is frequently an issue with age causing falls. Since falls are a safety risk, the healthcare professionals can intervene and they told her such.
With that statement she had to make some drastic decisions, and it was devastating for her to leave her home that my in-laws built together and relocate. The one thing she knew she wanted some control of her destiny and a nursing home was not in her plans.
Mom was known to wear a pink helmet everywhere. After living with us for a short time she feared ever having a brain injury. It certainly wasn’t a life she wanted to live and she took precautions to avoid a brain injury.
We bought her a beautiful pink helmet and she wore it diligently in the house and outdoors. I’m not sure others ever understood her message wearing the helmet. Her message was simple “You don’t want to have with a brain injury … I live with someone who does!”
Whenever I did hear her tell anyone and she would engage me in conversation I would change the subject. I always looked good around her. After all she was in her 90’s and me in my 40’s. She didn’t walk fast, and either did I. I could barely walk. Why would anyone think it was me being slow? Of course they would have thought she was the slow walker. Truth is, we both were.
Anyway, when I went to aquatic exercise mom went along. She had her exercise too. Now, this was a woman who did not know how to swim and feared water. She learned a lot in her final years of life.
If her memory slipped her and she wasn’t sure where she was going I would have her laughing. It was always the same thing, but maybe different versions.
I frequently told her she was going for a job interview so “dress the part”. I would joke with her and tell her the government said they would be stopping her social security income because they expect everyone to die before they reach 80.
Jokingly: I would tell her we received a letter from the government stating she needed to look for employment because she was 95 and she was breaking the system of her $750.00 a month check because of her longevity. She needed to work another 30 years and retire again before she could continue social security income.
Believe me, we had plenty of laughs! She said she laughed more in the years she lived with us than her entire life. I found that sad!
I also needed to help her get through some difficult times living with us and learning what life really was like after having a serious brain injury. She was clueless, but I wouldn’t have let on to anyone anyway. I didn’t reveal any of my problems, except to a couple very close people. Otherwise, everything appeared wonderful!
I needed to keep my focus. I was working with my daughter as she struggled with her problems with mild cerebral palsy, seizure disorder and a number other diagnosis of her lifetime. Mother’s don’t get sick or get hurt … they just keep on, keeping on!
My mother-in-law promised if she died before me she would send me help from heaven. If I wasn’t a believer before, I would be now. I did finally get help and improved with treatment. That is a miracle, after nearly two decades … I’m back!
- Gilroy teen’s traumatic brain injury affects entire family (mercurynews.com)
- Brain injury survivor works hard to give back (vicnews.com)
- Mom’s concussion leads writer to research in neuroscience (pri.org)
- Many adults have brain injuries from abuse as baby (radionz.co.nz)
- How to train your brain to handle injury (futurity.org)