Weepy Old Women

In the last 3 years of her life, I cared for my Mom 3000 miles away for 2-3 weeks at a time, 3-4 times a year; trying to give my sister and my niece what is technically called respite care---to give them a break. It wasn't easy to be so far from home, but we three siblings and our daughters were determined to help her die in her own home and we rotated through doing that respite care.

Mom was lucid for most of my visits except for a brief period a year or so before she died, which we discovered was caused by the statin she was on. When we had her doctor ease her off that nasty med, she was very present until just a few days before she slipped away.

While I think of her often, of course, lately I have been remembering one warm and loving conversation we had a couple years before the end.

Two or three times during that visit, I came into the room to find her quietly weeping. Not extreme sobbing. Just slow, sad tears. We talked about it. She didn't really feel like she knew why and as she came out of it, we would laugh and chat about what she called "weepy old women". About the incredible slice of history that an 86-year-old woman had seen; about the accumulation of losses for a widow of more than a decade.

Lately, I have been feeling like a Weepy Old Woman. Except I'm only 64, soon to turn 65. Mom was 85. She was also able to climb out on the peaked roof outside David's study at age 70 to wash the windows on the outside. At 64, going on 65, due to arthritis in knees elbows and, most recently, feet, I can barely walk for my essential 60" or so of exercise everyday…..And so I weep….

Now, I did get the shallow end of the gene pool in terms of Dad's T2 diabetes, bless his loving soul, but it seems I also got Mom's iron lungs---she smoked camel straights until a month or so before she died and her lungs stayed clear, as are mine, even though I show the very early stages of COPD---my lung xrays are clear, though I only quit smoking 8 years ago. Weird and cool and so I weep.....

Mom died of kidney failure, ultimately, and, thank the Goddess, I was with her and it was beautifully peaceful in her own home thanks to hospice and Medicare and my amazing family, and so far my kidneys are hanging in there quite well. Not sure about adrenals and liver and Goddess knows what else…..and so I weep…….

Finally----I have to conclude it's about accumulated loss. That is the commonality. But there is a profound difference between generations as to how we acknowledge these losses. How we try—and maybe fail---at understanding these losses. I believe Mom and I had accumulated an equal number of losses by my age. But Mom was indeed a Stoic. And an incredible one. Who spared her children the impact of passing on those losses. Until she couldn't anymore……and so I weep…..

Because now I get it…..Thanks Mom….The weeping is okay. I'll survive…..Love you always......

Love you too, dear friend.

thanks Judith. yes, accumulated loss....I just talked to my mom yesterday, she's 92, and recently she lost yet another close friend. I shared with her my memories of this friend, and she cried a little too. I did too. It sometimes seems too much. Hugs, and love you too.

Judith, your writings are so rich with humanity. Thank you -- again -- for sharing.

Thanks for your touching blog. It really hit home for me. I haven't talked about it but for some years I've cared for my aunt who lived alone and independent at up to the age of 95. She passed in April and although I do mourn her loss I also feel the effects of all her suffering. It was a constant battle to help her retain control and live out the remainder of her life as she wished.

Thanks for writing this blog, Judith; I'm sure it wasn't easy. At almost 84 y.o., I try not to dwell on my reasons for grief, but the loss of family, friends and pets, are all at the top of my list. Also, as you discussed, the regret for some of the genes I've passed on to my descendents; additionally, the worry about this world that they are inheriting.

I cheer up when I talk to my children, grandchildren, great-grand children, when I think of my supportive husband. Also, when the sun shines and my Golden Retrievers smile at me! Best wishes to you, and hoping that you will find bright spots and happiness today and in the future.

Judith, just when I wonder if you can outdo yourself, you do. You have touched me deeply and I so appreciate you sharing this. Accumulated loss is of course so difficult.

Big love and hugs to you, always, Judith. Thank you so much for sharing this.

I recently saw an interview with Sally Quinn. She was asked about how she is coping with caring for her husband, Ben Bradlee, who is dying of dementia. She made the observation that "we all suffer". She and Ben have been blessed with fame and fortune but no one escapes this simple fact. All we can do is cope as best we can.

Thanks for your beautifully written post, Judith.