"I think it's time to think about having your Mom move in with us."
My husband spoke these words to me around 2 am today. We were driving home from the hospital, 30 miles from our home, where we had just left my mom resting in Dilaudid-enabled slumber.
Mom isn't "old" by today's standards -- early 60's and not quite old enough to retire. She has, however, what I lovingly refer to as "mileage issues". A life-long smoker, she revels in her disdain of broccoli and aerobic exercise. This lifestyle has come up squarely against her fierce independence, made all the more fervent since my parents divorced some 20 years ago.
She has steadfastly refused most help from us over the years, preferring to handle her own finances, home repairs, snow shoveling, etc. She has built her own fences, painted her own house, remodeled her own kitchen.
But the neglect of the years has taken its toll: Collapsed disks in her spine, chronic asthma from smoking, poor circulation and worse balance.
Against this backdrop we play out yesterday's drama. She was at a friend's house, where they had together designed a pergola for the friend's garden. I can't tell you what she was thinking, but she got up on a ladder. I don't know what happened, but at some point, she managed to kick the ladder out from under herself, and landed hard on her left leg. She sustained two compound fractures, with displacement of the bones measured in inches, not millimeters. Two hours of surgery later, she is equipped with enough hardware to set off metal detectors at a range of 10 feet.
And so here we are. Her spine is too fragile for crutches. Her house is a maze of narrow staircases. Sleeping rooms and bathrooms are on the second floor. It's just not possible.
Our home is wheelchair friendly, with a suite of sorts on the first floor. Which takes us back to that first sentence.
How can I talk her into this? How can I keep her and S from killing each other? And how well will my all-too-fragile life balance hold up under the stress of a special needs child, a special needs husand and a special needs parent all in the same house, and under the watchful eye of the woman who is both my greatest fan and biggest critic?
I'm not looking forward to the next few weeks.