Any of you that have read my blogs or know me personally know this has become a signature good-bye phrase. Having used it often for sometime now, it was natural to use it with Mom when she could no longer live at home. Amid her confusion of being left with strangers in Assisted Living, she would ask, “When will you be back?” or some version of that. Some days she didn’t know who I was but knew I was a constant in her life and that there was a connection. However, if I said I will be back today, she would remember. If something happened to prevent that, she was upset. My husband and I adopted this already familiar phrase when leaving. Mom was reassured that we would return at the first opportunity. Fortunately, there were other family members that would visit her also, helping fill her time.
Time slipped by and there were hurdles to jump, but jump or climb over them we did together. Eventually, the event we feared happened. Mom fell and broke her hip. Hip replacement surgery and three weeks in a specialty hospital were hard on her and us. The hardest part was knowing she could not return to Assisted Living. Mom was moved to a nursing home where the environment is so different. Assisted Living facilities depend on the person’s abilities to do some basic care for themselves. Nursing Homes are designed to have the person dependent on the staff. It has been hard to make this transition, because Mom is somewhere in between the two scenarios. Still our, “until next time…” reassures her that we will be back.
Mom is still inside the ailing body and confused mind. Her sense of humor, grace, and loving heart shine through the fog like a lighthouse blinking, “It’s still me. I’m still in here.” It has been a blessing and honor to spend time with her. I will continue as long as she needs me and I am capable. And when the time comes that she leaves the nursing home, no matter how short or long term, I will still be telling Mom, “See ya next time.”
Until next time…