One of my favorite guilty pleasures is watching TV in bed on a Saturday morning. I usually find a well-regarded movie, prop myself up with some pillows, and just watch. This past weekend I landed on Driving Miss Daisy.
Oof-dah. All was well until the last 15 minutes! So much about Miss Daisy reminded me of my mom. She was specific about how she wanted things and fiercely independent. It made it really hard to help in the beginning when we recognized mom was having trouble with some day-to-day tasks. I learned to be softer in my approach and available to help when she might accept it.
The part that took me down was near the end. Miss Daisy, now living in a care community, readily accepts forkfuls of pumpkin pie from Hoke (the man hired to drive her after she backs it out into the neighbors yard and totals her car) who comes to visit her. Hoke was always there for Miss Daisy. She wasn’t going to bend, so Hoke always did. Finally, Miss Daisy recognizes how loyal and helpful Hoke is well before she starts to show signs of dementia. The scene makes my chest tight and leaves me sobbing for nearly twenty minutes. I distinctly remember a few times when my mom let me feed her and looked into my eyes with appreciation. My heart swelled each and every time.
I learned that once my mom was having cognitive issues, I couldn’t expect her to change. I had to change. We (my siblings and I) made life choices for her when she no longer could and she adapted, but she still had a feisty side. It wasn’t until the last year of her life when I saw her soften. I remember recognizing the sea change in our relationship when she gratefully accepted help, and thanked me for it.
Should I end up with a similar fate, I’m not sure I will behave any differently. Will you? Wondered.