Friday, March 22, 2013

Living Day to Day

When I left for the Peace Corps in January 1979, my 86-year-old grandmother pulled me aside.

"I'm not in very good health and I doubt if I'll be around much longer," she said, "so I just want you to know that I don't expect you to come back for my funeral."

I served my two-year term in Costa Rica, extended my service for another year and a half to finish up a project I'd started, came home, got a job, met Husband, fell in love, got married, had Boy#1, moved to Small Town, had Boy#2, enjoyed my time as a stay-at-home mom, and had Boy#3.

When Boy#3 was 19 days old, we got the phone call from my father that Grandma had passed away. That was 11 years and some odd months after she had informed me her days were limited.

I tell that story because it illustrates the suspended animation in which we are caring for Husband's mother right now. At 91, she probably doesn't have another decade left in her, but certainly my grandmother did not think she would live to be 97.

We do know that my mother-in-law is discombobulated and confused, in pain (she reacts badly to narcotics so she's limited to heavy doses of over-the-counter drugs), and needs help for every single aspect of her life down to guiding each spoonful of Jello into her mouth. She doesn't understand why she must wear the cervical collar that supports her broken neck or why she must not get out of her chair by herself.

Maybe in the next few days she will begin to feel better and her head will on longer ache from the whack on the corner of her bedside table that opened up her scalp. Perhaps the healing of this brain trauma will ease the confusion and we'll be able to get her out again for a chicken wrap and fruit parfait at McDonald's. Or perhaps she will slip away tomorrow, or even today.

All of our days are numbered, but my grandmother did not know the number of hers and we do not know the number of my mother-in-law's.

Only God knows.


  1. It reminds me of a line from a book, where a man with cancer says of his doctor something like, "He thinks he knows when I'm going to die, but he doesn't know when he's going to die." All you can do is carry on. Hang in there.

  2. Continuing to keep you and hubby in our prayers as you care for your mother-in-law.