Life Matters

Embrace me

I have not been blogging as regularly as usual. The reason is that I have been attending to my mother’s care needs – she is 92 years old. While demanding it has been a privilege to care for her at this time of her life. However, I am not the only one who is caring for my mother I have three sister and a brother, we are sharing the care. But as the paperwork Queen (a title given to me by my sister) my time has been very occupied!

A few weeks ago, my mother phoned me on a Sunday asking me to keep in touch with her throughout the day as she was not feeling well. She was living by herself in a retirement village. I am a two plus hour drive away. Later, the same day an ambulance was called, and she was admitted to hospital. After this our family stayed with her for three nights before she went into respite care.

Fortunately, after a few permutations, my mother has government approval for permanent aged care. The first morning after being in respite my O&O (one and only) visited her around 8.30am she was sitting in her chair with the teddy bear named Claude, my sister Debbie had given her. She looked very forlorn and I was worried. Over the next couple of days, I spent about 6 hours a day settling her in and giving her an orientation to her new surroundings. Other family members visited. Given such mammoth changes all elderly people need support and time to orient themselves to their new and changing environment. I spoke to one woman in the aged care facility who had no children. I wondered who visited her, who cared for her, beside the staff and did she have anyone who would give her a warm embrace?

My mother’s favourite flowers, the pansy.

My mother Valma still has her capabilities and knows what is happening around her. On Friday she told me about another resident who had moved in and at breakfast after one-night in her new home burst into tears. My mother wandered down the hall later to see how she was. Valma wanted to give this new resident a warm embrace. It is not easy for older people who must move into aged care. Many elderly people have lived productive and successful lives, lived and loved their homes and families but then they must move into aged care. They can no longer entirely take care of themselves and cope with the demands of our modern world, such as the technology. Therefore, it is important that everyone receives a dignity of care and are valued as they grow older particularly when many lose their capacity to make decisions and care for themselves.

Tomorrow my mother will be at the Melbourne Cup party held at her aged care home. She has picked out her outfit and will wear her blue fascinator – she will look fabulous, maybe even win the prize for the best dressed!

I and my family have much to do to establish my mother in her full-time care arrangement. In the meantime, we have taken on the responsibility and all she must do is enjoy this time of her life. With a warm embrace from all of us as we leave her and blowing a kiss or two it is satisfying that our Mum is in a good place. She is enjoying this time of her life and getting the best of care. Yes, she has not a care in the world as we work through the pile of paperwork and arrange to sell her village unit and transition her into her new permanent care arrangement. But then, why not – it is what we want, my siblings and I. We want to give her the best – an embrace of love as she lives out her final years. All she wants is to have our arms about her as we leave after a visit. A soft gentle kiss on her cheek and a couple of kisses blown in the wind as we leave. How fortunate are we, to have our mother still with us at 92 years of age?

All this has reminded me of the Nat King Cole song “Embrace Me” – my mother has a great singing voice, as did her mother. I also love singing this song. I leave you with Nat King Cole’s rendition.


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