My son is getting married in 2 weeks. It’s an event my family has been looking forward to celebrating for many months. The ceremony is taking place about 100 miles south of us, in the hometown of the bride-to-be. We decided some time ago to get motel rooms for the weekend since my husband and I will be hosting the rehearsal dinner on Friday, and we will want to stay until the very end of the reception on Saturday. The question then became: What is the best way to get Mom to the wedding and back?
My brother volunteered to do whatever we needed to help us out so we could enjoy the festivities. At first the plan was for him to spend Friday night at our house and bring Mom on Saturday to the wedding; then bring her back to our house Saturday night and spend the night again with her. The fault with this plan was how to get Mom ready for the wedding. I don’t know who would object more to helping her get on her pantyhose–my brother or Mom. She cannot get them by herself and heaven knows she will not consider herself dressed for a wedding without them!
The next idea was for me to come back home Friday night so I could help Mom get dressed Saturday morning and bring her to the wedding. Then my brother would bring her home after the reception and we would stay behind. But the more I thought about missing Friday night with my family and the opportunity for all of us to be together–including a daughter and her husband flying in from the west coast–the less enthused I became about that plan. This kind of family event is rare and I did not want to miss any of it.
The other consideration was my mother’s well-being. What a long day it would be for her. It takes her nearly 2 hours to get ready to go anywhere after she wakes up; then there would be the long ride to the ceremony; a couple hours for the reception; and finally a long car ride back home on the I-95 corridor, which can be very unpredictable in terms of traffic issues.
After talking with a couple people who love her well and understand her current physical and mental limitations, I came to the conclusion it would be best for Mom to forego the wedding and have a caregiver stay with her on that day. It’s heart breaking on several levels to make this decision. Mom doesn’t always understand her limitations–physical or mental. She knows she’s forgetful, but I don’t think she understands she has dementia. Her memory and cognitive skills are so impaired she has no idea how much she has forgotten. But she does know my son is getting married and she’s been looking forward to the wedding in her own way.
A few days ago I talked to Mom about my decision she would not attend the wedding. Although Mom expresses very little emotion, I could tell she was not happy about the idea. I explained the reasoning behind the decision–the long drive, the long day, how difficult it would be for her, etc. My mother, ever graceful, conceded it was probably best.
That night she talked to my aunt who is my dad’s sister. She was one of the ones I talked to about Mom going to the wedding, and she encouraged me to let Mom stay at home. Mom told my aunt I had decided she would not attend the festivities. I could hear my aunt on the other end of the phone telling her she thought it was the right decision, all things considered. When Mom got off the phone she relayed the conversation to me. As I put her to bed that night she said, “Karen, you made a wise decision about me not going to the wedding, and you were the only one who could have made the decision.”
I wanted to cry. My mother hasn’t been able to converse like that in months–to make a statement that required a thoughtful process where she took my words, my aunt’s words and came up with her own response to them. And there was a truth in her statement that she didn’t even understand. Because part of my decision was based on a selfish desire to enjoy my son’s wedding weekend unfettered by the care of my mother. Yes, I was the only one who could make the decision that would impact me as much as it impacted Mom. My dear, dear mother, a lady full of grace and trust. Although you have lost much, the grace still shines.