Wednesday, February 10, 2010

In the Storm

Every thing has come to a standstill around us today. Anticipating the worst, with dire predictions of blizzards, power outages and mountains of snow, most of the powers-that-be on the East Coast cancelled every type of activity they can think of until this storm passes through. So, my daughter is home from school. There’s total silence outside, no cars going by or even snowplows yet.

I got up as usual, fed the horses and opened the barn up so they could wander back and forth between the corral and their stalls. Siete is standing in the snow with a small drift piling up on her back on her blanket, happy as a little kid. Silk hasn’t ventured from her stall. One gift for them is that the hay I picked up on last Sunday is exceptionally good. No one is complaining about not being able to get out and run around today. Their mouths are too full.

You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t been blogging as much recently. Not to get into the details, but my 95 year old mother, who lives with us, has become increasingly agitated and depressed. The world inside her head is scary, and she can’t believe that it’s not the same world that the rest of us live in. She’s deaf and refuses to wear her hearing aids. She’s got macular degenerative disease and is now legally blind. I'm not one of those people who likes to chronicle the emotional details of my life on my blog. Yet, I realize that things have gotten to a point where I feel the need to explain why some days, I just don't have it in me to write anything. My mom is a very different person than she was a few months ago. It’s changed my life and challenged me in more ways than I can ever explain. The horses don’t get too much of my attention these days. When I go to the barn, it is a much-needed respite.

I’ve been looking for guidance all over the place. Pema Chodron writes about the practice of “compassionate abiding”. As you breathe, you acknowledge the difficult, uncomfortable feelings and give them space to be there, “ventilating” around them without trying to remove them. Of course, it reminded me of Silk. She helps me find a way “to be with what is” like no one else can. I stand with her in the stall and clear my mind when things get to be too much inside the house. I know that this too shall pass, and I’ve given up trying to pretend that it’s not happening. I’m very lucky to have my family, friends and animals to help me ride these uncharted trails.

“The peace that we are looking for is not peace that crumbles as soon as there is difficulty or chaos. Whether we’re seeking inner peace or global peace or a combination of the two, the way to experience it is to build on the foundation of unconditional openness to all that arises. Peace isn’t an experience free of challenges, free of rough and smooth—it’s an experience that’s expansive enough to include all that arises without feeling threatened.”

Pema Chodron


Susan said...

Aging parents is a tough one. My mom is 82 now and increasingly "off in her head." There's a lot of insanity in her life that she's stuck in. I don't talk to her very often as it's really hard. She goes on and on about the craziness that she can't see or hear a way out of. All I can do is listen. I do know that she'll always be taken care of and not have to face an old folks home, but I do wish she could have more peace in her old age.

Grey Horse Matters said...

We're all in the same boat with the snow. Hope it doesn't get too bad, it's so hard to get back to normal after one of these storms. Your girls look like they are faring well.

Sorry to hear your mom isn't doing that well. It's hard to deal with so many things at once. Hang in there.

Victoria Cummings said...

Susan - I hear you. I'm sorry about your mom, but like mine, it's good to know that she'll always be taken care of. I too was hoping my mother could enjoy the end of her life with peace and harmony, but her doctor is helping me understand the nature of her disease. Listening and changing the subject is often all you can do.

Arlene - Thanks - so far, the snow is not as severe as they predicted and we're luckier than lots of people who are getting really buried.

Anonymous said...

It is so hard to be with someone who is troubled, and just be there, without doing anything, just letting it be what it is. So sorry about your mother, and hope you are able to find those moments of peace we all need.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry, the end life is not always
easy or pain free.
When I was at the end of my rope
my dog was the one I turned it.
He mad it all bear-able.
I hope things get better for you.
Kay Kelly

C-ingspots said...

I am very sorry to hear of the difficulties with your mom. Does your mom have a belief in God? If so, reading stories from the Bible or some of the writings of Ellen G. White could help put her at peace...maybe "The Desire of Ages" would be calming and reassuring for her and you. As for your horses, I believe they are the greatest of all the animals for bringing a sense of peace and just living in the moment. Be well.

M. C. Valada said...

Deep sympathies, Victoria. I've had little time or energy to write recently. Trying to function with my arm & husband out of commission doesn't leave time for much. I've seen my boy but twice since I broke the arm. 7 miles away might just as well be across the country. I hope the worst of the snow is past you. I don't know what else there is to offer about your mother.

Pony Girl said...

I hope you are all warm, safe and cozy during all those storms! You are all getting hit hard over there. I wish you could send some my way...I've been hoping for snow all season!
I'm sorry to hear about your mother. It must be so exhausting emotionally and physically, taking care of aging parents. But in your heart, it is what you know you have to do. My parents are still fairly young- and I can't imagine the day they are 95. It will make me sad to see them lose their abilities and not be themselves. I'm praying and thinking of you and your family! Hang in there!

billie said...

Victoria, have left you a message on my blog. I was here yesterday and got interrupted before I could pass this on.

If you haven't read Madeleine L'Engle's Summer of the Great-Grandmother, I think it might have special meaning for you right now. It's about M's caring for her mother during her last year, as she declines, in their CT farmhouse. It's part 2 of the Crosswicks Journals.

I hope things become easier for you. My mom cared for my dad at home the last 9 months of his life, but she had an entire Hospice team helping her, and it was only their support that made it possible. It's a tremendous gift, what you're doing. I'm not sure I could! Take care. I'm sending good thoughts your way.

Lori Skoog said...

Victoria...Taking care of your Mom is the greatest gift you could give her, even tho she may not realize it. I'm glad you have horses to turn to when you are in need of something comforting. My Mom and my husband's Dad both came to our farm and died here with us. It was the right thing to do.

Thanks for your very kind comments left on my Journal.

Mikey said...

So sorry to hear about your mother and the troubles you've been having. It's very disconcerting when they change from what you've always known. I have no guidance or wisdom to impart really, other than watching it happen to my grandmother, and seeing how hard it was on my mom, I feel for you right now. It's a very hard time and I'm sending you a virtual HUG. I hope it gets better for you.

Janet said...

Thinking of you, Victoria. It's tough as parents age and the child becomes the parent. Pema Chodron shares wonderful words of wisdom.

mary martha said...

One of the hardest things in my life was the role reversal I experienced as I began to take care of my mother~ she was the one who needed mothering and I had to be the strong one. It was not easy. I hope you find peace and compassion in your days. Animals are great comforters, let Silk and Siete mother you...

Callie said...

Sorry to hear about your Mother. I'm sure that can be immensely difficult to deal with. But reading your blog for all these years, you have the ability to find peace and beauty in most. My prayers are with you, Victoria.

John and Regina Zdravich said...

Yes, you folks out east really got hammered with the snow...certainly makes it challenging.
So sorry your mother is having such a tough time (and also you). It has to be really difficult....I am sure in her "clear" moments she appreciates the love and care you give her.