Letters and Diary Non-Fiction posted May 29, 2022

This work has reached the exceptional level
Sometimes I don't know which end is up.

Suddenly a Caregiver

by Mary Kay Bonfante

Dear Friends,

I suppose some of you have wondered why I have been absent, or virtually absent from this site, for so long. There are actually several reasons, but for the past month, the main reason is that I've been called upon to become my mother's caregiver. I love her dearly, with all my heart, yet these responsibilities don't come easily to me, as I have a low energy level and my own disabilities, plus I'm in my sixties.

I was in a poor position to just drop everything and do this, as my husband and I were already struggling with apartment issues, financial problems and another very serious matter. I won't go into the specific nature of any of these things; suffice it to say that they are distressing and time-consuming, and do not concern our marital relationship, as we love one another very much. Please forgive my silence on these matters, but they tend to invite endless questions and judgment, and are best left alone.

There were issues that prevented me from taking a more active role in my mother's care prior to this, especially during the last two years (including the pandemic, but not exclusively that), and then suddenly there it was, overwhelming and unavoidable. What I had planned as a four-day stay turned into a month, and now it could become six weeks or three months. My mother lives in New Jersey, a half-hour drive from where I live in Queens -- except that I don't drive, and no one in my very small immediate family does. By public transportation, it's a difficult trip, at least two hours long, under the most ideal circumstances; and is further complicated for me, as I use a rollator walker for traveling.

My mother has spinal stenosis, scoliosis, osteoporosis and arthritis in her spine, along with a number of herniated disks. She suffered from lower back pain for years, as I also do, but it turned into a much more serious problem when one morning, almost nine years ago, while staying at her vacation home in Florida, she called me on the phone from the next room and said, "I can't walk."

This set off a series of visits to neurologists, orthopedists, and pain management specialists, but the general consensus was that her condition was inoperable. She's had minor relief from medications, physical therapy, heat, cold and other treatments, but mostly, little help is to be found for her condition.

She has been suffering with immobility and tremendous, increasing pain, ever since its onset. There is no more vacation home. She had to give up the car she once drove, because it was too painful to push the pedals with her foot and even stay seated in the car. Except for her one-bedroom apartment in New Jersey, all her assets have been used on 24-hour home care. And now her apartment will also need to be sold, to secure her a place in an assisted living facility.

Meanwhile, I am staying with her, while she uses the last of her savings to pay for an aide to help during the daytime hours, while I help her in the evenings and at night. My husband comes and goes, while we help her clean out her apartment. She has someone else coming once a week to help her organize, and she's paying him, too.

I have been praying for years, for God to heal my Mom. My church is praying, others are praying, and other churches are praying. Who can understand God's timing, choices and reasons, when it comes to God answering prayers? I don't have all the answers, but I won't stop praying, and I will continue to trust in Christ, my Savior. Even while I'm here, exhausted, and my own back is hurting, I won't stop praying.

I love my mother very much, and we never thought she would suffer so much, during the last years of her life. She's been so very loving and wonderful to me as a mother. But there are many things I don't understand, and this is one of them.

This is a test. It is more than a test. It's not as though I can completely rest during the daytime hours, although on many days, I have to, especially during the morning, as I'm often up late at night, partly as a result of helping her through some difficult nights. It's a blessing that my husband can come and stay with me for part of the week. He brings my medications and other things I need from home, and he is a comfort and a help. Sometimes all of our nerves get frayed, but by the grace of God, we're making the best of it.

We've been cleaning out boxes of old papers, photos and knickknacks. It brings back beautiful memories, yet it's a constant reminder that the best times seem to be behind us. That may seem pessimistic, but it's especially true for my Mom, who feels terrible most days -- unless we look far beyond the present, to the joys and promises of Heaven. I'm constantly trying to strengthen her faith, as well as my own. We've been reading the Bible together, going through the Book of Genesis, with its riveting account of events that shaped the understanding of many of the major faiths in our world, including my own -- Christianity.

I believe that when she goes into assisted living, and I can no longer spend nights with her, we will both remember this experience of sharing God's Word to be among our most precious memories. And as tough as things are, we'll always know that we love each other.

And so, my friends, I must apologize that my reviews have been few and far between, and my replies have been tardy at best. I give my faith-based activities priority in my life, besides my family -- prayer, Bible reading and online church meetings -- but sometimes I fall asleep before I even have time to do some of these things. I am hoping that when my mother eventually goes into assisted living, that she will be reasonably comfortable there, and that I can go home and attend to the other crises that await me. I hope and pray that those things, too, will be resolved for us in a favorable manner. At some point, I hope to get back to more regular activities on FanStory.

I am also lagging behind in my medical appointments, my health is suffering and I was in the ER overnight, a week ago. I had a kidney infection, as well as other problems that were not resolved. The antibiotics for the kidney infection seem to be working.

I don't yet know whether or not I will add another chapter onto this post. I will try to make this post "pay" well, because I know it's kind of long.

Thank you for reading this. If you believe in God, please pray to Him for my mother Kay, my husband Jorge and me. Thank you for reading and praying, and may God bless you, in the Name of Jesus, Amen.


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