Are We Entitled To Comfort In Our Old Age?

telephoneIt is never a good sign when the landline rings before dawn. A phone call out of time brings with it the knowledge that it won’t convey good news as all of your loved ones are in the same time zone as you.

The 5am phone call started my day.

Within the hour I was frantically calling all manner of people trying to find out where they had taken my elderly mother. Information withheld because I could be any maniac (thanks to all the stalkers out there). I finally managed to track her down in the emergency room of the local hospital.

Hate this place for a whole lot of reasons, none of which have to do with illness, bodily parts or fluids. Mostly because it symbolises the system in all of its glory, loss of control and loss of time. This is not a stab at Australia’s hospitals or their staff. On a comparative world scale we have little to complain about. It is just the nature of hospitals. Inside those walls, time seems to slow and miscommunication and haphazardness seem to increase.

The good news is mum is physically fine for her age.

The bad news is that the past couple of years, loss of confidence and living in the comfort zone have taken their toll on her quality of life.

As I sat in the emergency ward killing time with the person who birthed me, shooting the breeze and making stupid small talk, inside my soul was screaming.

The notion of “use it or lose it” becomes far more obvious in old age.

And that is what has happened for my mother. She has lost much of her dexterity, mobility and strength. This is to be expected in old age. However in this case, the loss has been accelerated and magnified by a loss of confidence, motivation and movement generally.

It kills me, it really does. Not the physical loss per se, but my mother’s desire to stay in her comfort zone. This from the person who taught me to fight, strive, push and look beyond my front fence. This from the person who used to let nothing stop her, who used to let nothing stop my father and who never said “I can’t”.

My soul was screaming because I can see that comfort and safety are now her priority.

I want to yell “What about living and a life, mum?”

“Remember when there was a world beyond your front fence?”

“Remember when I was a little girl you told me I can, if I just tried a little more?”

beyond the fence

I constantly grapple with her perceived surrender. And then feel guilty because hasn’t she earned the right to seek comfort in her old age?

I know that those in old age who continue fighting and striving tend to live longer.

But is longevity the ultimate or even a legitimate goal in your eighties? Or is comfort the highest form of achievement?

It’s a personal choice in which I have no say. It’s a personal choice that I have to accept.

Maybe it’s time to let it be. Maybe at this age, the world to the front fence is enough.

Maybe it’s time for me to get comfortable with my mother’s comfort. Maybe that would be the ultimate sign of daughterly love.

And they say parenting is hard…