Change is something people fear. We may not even realize we are fearing it until we stop and think about it. People who fear traveling don’t like it for many reasons but one being they don’t like the change. The change of environment, routine, people, customs, food, etc. People who stay in unhappy, unhealthy relationships stay for many reasons, one big one being the fear of change. They feel stuck because they are used to it and “comfortable”, changing that seems impossible to some. Well, I got news for you… change is good. Just take a look at my mom.
Let me tell you a little story. Those of you who follow TSP know about her. She has dementia, a sick ass, nasty form of it called FTD. That disease has pretty much robbed my mom of everything that was beautiful about her other than her physical beauty, of course. Her vivacious, exuberant spirit is gone. She doesn’t speak anymore and getting her to laugh or even smile is a big chore these days. However, anyone that knows me knows I am up for that challenge. I always find a way to get it out of her even if it is just a small grin or tiny little giggle. I have to talk about some history in order to get to my point about change being good so bear with me. My parents divorced about 8 years ago. That is when she changed. And not only did she change but so did a lot of other stuff around her. One major change in her life was a move. A big one. She moved from our huge family home in a town she was used to and loved, to a smaller ranch style home in a town where she knew no one and was isolated from pretty much everything and everyone she ever knew. I hated that fucking house, the one she moved into. It is where she lost herself. It was never decorated the way she would have decorated a home. It never smelled like her house. It never felt like her house. It was cold and foreign. I hated going over there. She was different and we didn’t know why then but soon we would put some pieces of her puzzle together and figure it out. Within a couple of years her personality and behavior changed enough for us to recognize there was a serious issue and off to the doctors she went. Her diagnosis was devastating. Now, when my mom was diagnosed with FTD I had some other pretty major personal shit going on in my life as well. I was going through a divorce. Max was 4 and Margot was 2. My sisters and I knew our mom couldn’t live alone anymore. She was scared to be alone. I tried moving her into my house but she has terrible knees and couldn’t handle the stairs. That is when I made the decision to move into her house with my kids and two boxers. I don’t talk about this time in my life much. It hurts. A lot. I didn’t realize how sick she was until I lived with her. My God, had I known what I was getting into I don’t know if I would have been able to do it so I guess it was a blessing in disguise that I found out after the move. Something that really fucked with me when I first moved in with her was the realization of just how sick she really was. My heart ached thinking about how long she had been sick and alone. She was still talking at the time and able to dress herself and such but she was incapable cooking and bathing herself. I moved in just as she really began to lose her mind. I saw things, heard things, read things and did things I wish were a figment of my imagination. My poor beautiful mother. I am crying right this moment. Remembering what I thought about back then is painful to recall. I remember wishing she could die. What kind of life would she have? Not one that she would have wanted. She will never find happiness again, or at least be able to express it. I wondered if she knew what was going on with her and if she did why wouldn’t she end it? I know my mom. Losing her mind was her greatest fear because she saw it happen to both of her parents. It is strange. As I am writing this I remember her telling me a few times just after the divorce that she wanted to kill herself. I think she knew. She must have been terrified but so fucking strong to allow her fate to play out the way it was meant to. She trusted us and knew we would take care of her no matter what happened. She knew her girls. She raised us to love harder and loyalty was her number one. Loyalty and love. What a beautiful little recipe she whipped up to instill in her girls. It is as if she knew she would need us in this way some day. In retrospect, moving myself and my kids in with her at that time was a blessing for everyone. It has taken quite a while to heal from that experience. I find solace knowing I was with her at that very delicate and scary time. She and I used to be best friends. I know she found comfort in me being there even if I was not the best caregiver in the world for her. I hope she did at least. My kids and I moved out after a year and in moved her incredible team of caregivers. Since then so much has changed about our mom. She lost her voice over this past year, a disgusting symptom of FTD, among other capabilities. Eventually it became time for us to make a decision. The house was too big and not adequate for her anymore. We knew we would never put her in a home. Sadly, patients in our mothers condition who do not have the financial means for in home care need to be put into nursing facilities. Michelle took the reigns on this one…. because she is a BADASS. After much consideration she decided she wanted to move her closer to us. Michelle can now put GC on her resume because she successfully renovated the perfect little house for our mom. What happened next is a gift. See, dementia patients are fragile little people. They are incredibly sensitive to change especially when it comes to their environment. It was a risk and a concern but we moved her. In she came, to her darling (Michelle’s favorite adjective these days) little cape cod, perfectly decorated the way she would have done it herself in her heyday. She walked in and acted as if she owned the place! There she found happiness and peace, something she lost a long time ago. We were all prepared for this transition to potentially cause digression in her condition as well as heightened anxiety and unease. What we got was the exact opposite. She is aware. She is happy. She is at peace. You can find homegirl answering the door when the bell rings. She has been sitting up and being present while visitors are there. She is sleeping in her bed for the first time in a year. She has some life back in her eyes. She has smiled more and giggled more than she has in months. She even spoke to me the other day. She was laying on the couch and I was sitting next to her. I said, “I love you mom. Tell me you love me.” She looked at me with somewhat empty eyes and a moment later mustered up the ability to say “I love you, too.” I cried like a baby. Best thing I have ever heard in my life. So, looking back, when I wished she could have ended it then, and when I thought someone like her, in her condition, would live an empty life with no happiness or contentment, I was wrong. I take it back. Her life has purpose and her life has potential. My friends, change is good. Change is good for anyone and everyone as long as the change that is being made is a change that will nurture the soul. We did good. She did good. Our mother is home.
So, for anyone out there who is afraid of change and for anyone out there afraid to assist someone else in making a change… pull up your big girl panties. Life is so short and so beautiful. There is absolutely no sense in hanging on to something out of fear. You deserve to be happy but you won’t know what that feels like until you grow a big ass set of big girl nuts and change the path of your life. If my mom can do it absolutely anyone can. You got this.