This is my second winter season since my mother moved into an assisted living facility back in October of 2012. And with the wild and wacky weather we have been experiencing in our part of the world this year, it is a relief to know she is safe and cared for 24/7.
The last few years of her living independently weren’t my easiest years, especially during the winter months. Heavy snows, ice storms and severe cold posed seasonal challenges with maintaining her care. Would she lose power and not have any heat? Did she have enough food and medications to last until the roads were clear again? If there was a medical emergency during a storm, would we be able to get to her?
October used to be one of my favorite times of the year, when the leaves on the trees display their brilliance and the air turns brisk. I love how the seasons evolve in my part of the country, and appreciate each for its own charm. But once I became my mother’s primary caregiver, October took on a different meaning.
It meant it was time to start storing extra supplies for the winter, in case she could not get out, or I could not get to her. As her dementia escalated and the arthritis decreased her mobility, winter became a season of concern. Would she slip and fall when she went out to get the mail? Or would she forget her keys and lock herself out in the cold? Would the phone lines go down and she would have no means to call for help?
Once a season I embraced, I began to dread the approach of winter. Watching the snow fall was no longer an enjoyable experience, but rather became an unwelcome event. Seeing the ice glisten on the tree branches, turning my backyard into a crystal palace, was once a picture I cherished. As my responsibilities to my mother increased, that same peaceful picture triggered nagging and worrisome thoughts in my mind.
And even though I no longer have the same concerns now that my mother is in assisted living, those worrisome thoughts still linger. Like a bruise not yet quite healed. As time passes, I know they will become more like whispered memories, and the day will come when they do not carry as much weight.
Right now I take comfort in the knowledge my mother’s daily needs are being met, no matter the season. And I realize that sometime in the near future I will be able turn the calendar page over to October, and will once again be able to look forward to the approach of a favorite season.
Until that day comes, I will embrace the timeless sight and peaceful silence of a snowfall. And will keep an eye out for the crocuses to bloom, signaling the approach of Spring.