When I first started my professional design career, I worked for an art director who was a crusty old salt with a pragmatic sense of humor. And in his studio there was one gal who was the chronic complainer. Most mornings she would waltz into the office with her hot coffee in hand, and announce she wished that day was over. My art director would always chuckle and respond, “Be careful you don’t wish your life away.”
I’ve crossed paths with this art director numerous times throughout my career, and each was a positive experience. He was the type of mentor who taught best by example. I learned to develop a thick skin in my profession. And I learned how important it was to take ownership of each project, no matter how tedious it may seem. I learned life is too precious to simply wish away and it was my decision to enjoy it. Or not.
So, yesterday when the two-day calendar alert went off on my cell phone, reminding me that my mother has a quarterly doctor’s appointment, I do admit to feeling a sense of dread. And apprehension. And I found myself wishing tomorrow was over. And no, my old art director would not have been proud of me at that moment.
I have been taking my mother for her medical appointments for quite a few years now. Long before she stopped driving. And until recently, they were pleasant excursions. We would have the chance for a cozy chat in the car, and sometimes even treat ourselves to a nice lunch.
What used to take a few hours out of my work day, now demands most of the day. I have to allocate at least an hour from the time I pull into a parking space at the front of the assisted living facility where she now lives until she is safely situated in my vehicle and we can hit the road. Because she will go to the bathroom at least a dozen times before leaving her room. And we can’t forget the minimum of 15 minutes it takes to go through each item in her purse to make sure she has everything. And the inevitable argument that will ensue from that exercise, which can typically take another 20 minutes.
Then there is the 15 minutes it will take to walk from her room to the lobby of the building. And another 10 minutes to sign her out, since we must have the chatty-cathy dialogue with the receptionist. Then add in the two hours of round-trip drive time to the doctor’s office. And the time we actually spend in the doctor’s office, which can vary from visit to visit. And the 45 minutes it will take once I bring her back to the assisted living facility to get her settled back into her room. And let’s not forget the hour it takes me to drive back and forth to her residence.
But it is not just a matter of time allocation. It is the emotional and mental fatigue that takes its toll. And no matter how well I gear up for the battle, I know I am losing the war. Not against my mother. But against the dementia.
So, I have come to the realization there are some days in my life that I will wish away. And it’s okay if I do. Simply because my mother is worth it.