My Mother died last December 23rd at the age of 94. Up until the last 2 years of her life she was in pretty good shape. Then the downhill spiral began and things changed. Just wanted to share a bit of the Momma I knew before illness and dementia took her from me.
Looking Back – Maybe not your typical 90 ish year-old?
I cannot tell you what a typical lady in her 90’s is like, I only can tell you about my Mother. Well that is not totally true, my Mother-in-Law just turned 90 and she still takes care of her husband and house. I have seen her cook a meal for 2 or 30 people and not break a sweat. I have great role models of how 90 could look like if your health holds out.
If you looked at my Mom you knew she was aging but she never came across as a feeble old lady. Her day started before she even got out of bed – she did leg lifting exercises and moved her legs like she was riding on a bicycle before she climbed out of bed. Then after a quick stop in the bathroom, she made her bed. I don’t think she ever missed a day making her bed until the dementia took over.
Her constant companion was a 75-pound dog. He was dropped off on her street in 2001 and she was just keeping him until he found a new home. Dingo already had found his home, it just took her a year to admit that he was her dog and give up trying to give him away. He was faithful to her until his death. If dogs do go to heaven, I am sure he was waiting by her bed when she died.
After she fixed her and Dingo’s breakfast (he loved grits), she would head out into her yard. My daughter lived next door for a time and said that when she would head out for the day, her Granny was already out working in the yard. She couldn’t sit on the ground anymore, so she had an old milk crate that she would move around and use as a seat. The way she edged her garden made me nervous, she would use a hatchet.
She would stay in the yard until right before 11 am. She would get a bit tired and go inside to watch the Price is Right. In the evening, she loved to watch Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune. She never saw a Murder She Wrote that she didn’t like.
Before she had to give up driving her car, if I couldn’t get her on the phone in the morning, the first thing I would do was drive past her favorite restaurant. She liked to go there at least once a week for breakfast. On Saturday, she would hit as many garage sales as she could find in her area. She didn’t drive far away from home, mostly to the bank, her restaurant, beauty shop, my house and church. When I started to keep my granddaughter in 2005, she would show up with a biscuit for us for breakfast and help me with the little one. She was 88 years old. She adored her great-granddaughter and loved spending time with her.
How many 90 years old read romance novels? My Mom did and I imagine she was not the only older lady to enjoy a good romance. She would pick them up at garage sales and mostly they were of the Harlequin variety. She did like the ones where time travel was involved and loved finding them at a garage sale. After she finished, she would always pass them off to me and occasionally while reading them, I would have the thought- oh my goodness, my Mom read this?
My Mom didn’t really care what people thought of her, she did what she wanted and enjoyed her life. She was independent and bull-headed. She was in pain sometimes with the aches and pains of old age but she always said that if she hurt sitting or moving, she might as well keep moving. She had seen too many of her friends just sit down and give up. Someone used the phrase – if you rest, you rust – that was definitely a motto she lived by.
I miss you. Love you Momma.