Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Gerontology practicum meets the B. Q.

Boundary Queen, that is. Yes, the idyllic Gram next door in the granny flat scenario has been on the fritz lately. There are several reasons for the emotional dip. One is that my wonderful nephew is returning home from Air Force service in Japan. I love my nephew...but...I don't want him living in my granny flat. It's hard to explain, and my mother certainly doesn't understand my reasoning, but I am holding firm on this one. Mom is very, very unhappy with me.

I know, though, that it's not just that. When you are older, suddenly all sorts of things start fading away. Mom doesn't drive, so sometimes she gets lonely. She has plenty of friends, but she will not ask for a ride, and so she gets even lonelier. I am happy to take her around as often as is possible for me, and even a little more some weeks, but I can't provide a social life for Mom.

Add to that the fact that Mom's hearing is greatly diminished. Last November, she experienced sudden hearing loss in one ear; all the hearing in that ear gone OVERNIGHT. It drives Mom crazy that she doesn't know what happened, and I know she lives in fear of losing more hearing in her good ear. She loved going to a book group at church last month, but she didn't manage to hear the right title for this month's choice. It's hard for her to just get up the guts and call someone to ask.

I think most elderly folks know that they won't have the same energy, they might need to deal with some serious illness, they might have to give up a favorite sport or hobby...but it is hard to look ahead to the little ways that chip away at independence and vanity. The hair that starts falling out too quickly. The handing over of the car keys. The quiet afternoons in the kitchen with no visitors and all you have to listen to are your own thoughts about stressful things like hearing loss and your daughter's firm boundaries.

Sometimes being loving and kind means doing the hard things. But just because it's loving doesn't make it any less difficult to put down the boundary. Boundary Queen is wishing she could hand the crown to a substitute for a few weeks. Alas, no such luck.

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