The Tale That Almost Didn’t Get Told

I missed my Tuesday Tale. And it’s not as if I don’t have a tale to tell. It’s more that I’ve been riding a relentless wave of physical and emotional exhaustion.

Well, maybe there’s a tale in that, this wave that leaves me washed up on shore in frothing salty foam. In how I hired an aide for my mother after this last fall which has left her with a long painful healing process from contusions to the ribs. A lovely aide person really, with a wandering green eye, but one who evidently can’t tolerate heat very well, so sat the whole time two inches from a fan in the living room fanning herself.  And refused to water the window boxes outside my mother’s bedroom window because she’d have to go out in the sun for two minutes. “I don’t water plants, sorry,” she told me. After my mother fired her.

“What good is that, she just sits there,” my mother complained. “And she served me a piece of tasteless dried up chicken.”

Really, for the life of me, I can’t figure out why this aide couldn’t chop up the onion and garlic I’d bought to go with it. Maybe that made her sweat too much.

I tried to explain to my mother that it was only while she was healing that she would need an aide, to be sure she was safe. The safety issue has to do with the fact that my mother now needs to use a walker.  And she is good about using the walker – except when she is insistent that she can keep her balance just fine without it, to carry dishes and glasses back and forth from room to room; yes, that balance would be just fine if she were more used to walking a tight rope. Perhaps even a very thin thread.

The best thing about this fired aide is that she seemed to know plenty about walkers. And seemed to feel bad enough about getting herself fired that she texted me about a tray she’d found at a homecare local store that would fit my mother’s walker. So my mother actually could have her wish fulfilled, safely, to carry her own dishes, coffee mugs and glasses of prune juice (to counteract the side effect of her Tylenol with codeine). Because as my mother reminds me, as well as her physical therapist, and her visiting nurse: “I’ve been taking care of myself , even supported my own parents, since I was 22.”

Well, that’s true. And yes, she’s a bit older than 22 now. But not in spirit. Not in the least. Only in body. “I’m so tired of my body,” she was known to say, navigating the knife-sharp stabbing pain if she twisted the wrong way as I would try to settle her back comfortable upright against a stack of pillows. She wants to escape her body as our little Bochella gerbil can climb up on top of her water bottle to try and nudge up the mesh lid off her cage.

Restore my mother to the youth of the beautiful young woman who dared to ride a horse up a mountain in a thunderstorm, and she’d prove us all wrong.  She would be able to balance that tight rope. With grace and a courage that in my own life I have never known. “Don’t be afraid of life,” she has always told me. Still. I fear it. Like gazing down into murky waters and imagining dangers that don’t even lurk there, like electric eels in the small Vermont lake we used to vacation at when I was a child.

I pray a lot these days. Actually, I’ve been too worn out to pray coherently. More the kind of praying, that now that I’m home, and my mother has another aide (momentarily?) where I sit on my lounge chair and stare out at the empty bird feeder, feeling too tired to refill it. The kind of praying that is just that, an empty staring at empty bird feeders.

Still. I do have this one specific prayer that this walker tray that miraculously is supposed to accommodate all walkers of all types, will be God’s little plastic gift from heaven.


About Sandra

Author;editor of The Woven Tale Press at; mother; weaver
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28 Responses to The Tale That Almost Didn’t Get Told

  1. Wylie says:

    I’ve been praying for you and thinking about you, my sweet friend. Many, many years ago, when my first husband left me and four kids and a falling-apart house in foreclosure, I told Fr. Jim (the assistant at Caroline) that I felt like I was in a black hole, and couldn’t pray any more. Jim told me that he would carry me in prayer until I was able to pray again. And I know he did, and those prayers pulled me through tumultuous times. I promise you that I’m praying hard for you and your whole family. xxxxxoooooo

    • Sandra says:

      THanks, Wylie. Yes, it’s a bit of a black hole. I just wish falling into it didn’t make me feel so much like I”ve hit bottom. I had a friend come out for a couple of days which helped. But am just so exhausted. Recovering from that, while still dreading every time the phone rings.

  2. JennyLynn says:

    It really is hard to find some good to help those who need it. Wish all aids and care-givers would be as compassionate towards the people who need the care as they are towards their pay checks. Even just a little would go along way.

  3. Oh Sandra… I am so sorry you are so exhausted!! I cannot even imagine. My granny was like your mom and I can remember her being so stubborn! My poor mom was in your situation and I remember her almost pulling her hair out! I sure hope that the tray helps and your mom’s new aide is, well, more of an aide!! Keeping you in my thoughts and sending you some good juju!!

  4. Hi Sandra, You are so precious…I’m so sorry that you are having such a hard time right now. It will pass..nothing is forever..even when it seems like it is. It’s so hard to watch our once vibrant parents get old 🙁 It’s that frailty of life. The one that says nothing is forever..not even us 🙁 It confronts us with our weakness’s and frailty. Sometimes it’s just ok to stare at a bird feeder. I take comfort that God knows me and knows my heart even when there are no words or thoughts that I can utter. He sees you and knows you. Rest in Him and you will find strength again. Use this time of rest to draw closer to the One who know’s you best. I will pray for you my friend. Psalm 139
    Blessings to you!

  5. Sandi says:

    I know. I’m exhausted too, and my 73 yo mother doesn’t use a walker. I’m arting, crafting, writing, mothering, working, educating, everyday, because I need to do these things. I’m paring, purging, consolidating and shaving because additional things come up that need to be done, either once, or for the rest of my life. What is there not to be exhausted about? Hope.

    Loved your story, Sandra. Glad I can take a moment to read you sometimes.

  6. nelle says:

    *hugs* to you and your mom.

    This sounds so familiar. My mom uses a walker, and one step away from it means flirting with disaster. She isn’t one to sit idle, she loves to bake and such when she isn’t on a computer doing genealogy research. While she’s good about using the walker, on occasion she gets brave and tries to tackle something that lures her into a fall.

  7. I hope this next aide is better. It is hard to lose independence. Especially when you still feel like that 22 year old inside. 😉

  8. Catharine says:

    Do you know this? Looks like you’re doing it just fine…


    It doesn’t have to be
    the blue iris, it could be
    weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
    small stones; just
    pay attention, then patch

    a few words together and don’t try
    to make them elaborate, this isn’t
    a contest but the doorway

    into thanks, and a silence in which
    another voice may speak.

    ~ Mary Oliver ~

  9. Kathy says:

    I went with similar situations with both my mom and my dad…except I didn’t have an aide to pick up the slack. I was it. It was exhausting, stressful, and emotionally depleting but I have no regrets that I was able to be there for each of them till the bitter end. I know they appreciated it. I loved them and miss them still. One day you will look back on this time and wish you were here in this time again because the chaos is better than not having them at all. Prayers for you. Be strong. You will get through this.


    • Sandra says:

      I’ve gathered a lot of that from various of your posts — don’t know how you handled it. maybe, hopefully, frankly, it was before your children were in the picture. That makes it far more complicated. I admire you for doing it all alone. And I sure as heck know how that feels…

  10. My mother and I lived together most of my life and after her stroke I took care of her for 14 years. I’m telling you, it’s so difficult to find a first-rate aide or CNA. The best thing you can do is sign up with a good agency that will give you a supervising nurse (sounds like you’ve got that) and that will work with you to find a compatible aide that isn’t a dud. That kind of work is very low paying, so very few people with a brain go into it. I was fortunate to find three different good ones over the 14 years. The last one was a gem, and she and I remain friends to this day, so good ones do exist. With my mother, she didn’t resist being helped because she was partly paralyzed and she knew she couldn’t do the things she used to do. So at least I didn’t have the problem of her trying to do more than she was capable of, and getting herself into trouble. Anyway, I sure can relate to your situation.

    • Sandra says:

      thank you for that detailed comment. Because my mother is still independent, I did not sign up with a nursing service; in fact, the couple of aides I had for those two days were more like that and drove her nuts. They were there more to empty bedpans frankly, than doing stuff she needs around the house. So for the week we’re on vacation, I’ve hired an 24 hour aide from an agency that focuses on companions — aides who will cook. laundry, clean, monitor medications etc. If she were in your mother’s situation which god forbid may be down the road, then, yes, I may have learned from you an important lesson. ANd for the record, I don’t know how you managed it for 14 years. Maybe because your mother actually was more obliging and didn’t fire them! 🙂 thank you for your warmth and empathy.

      • Maybe I should elaborate a little bit. To get Medicare to pay for home help, the doctor has to certify that the patient needs medical care. That’s when they assign an RN to the case to oversee the medical aspects. That’s what my mother needed. It sounds like your mother just needs assistance in ADL as they call it – activities of daily living – so I think the companion route is probably the right one for now. And actually, my mother was more likely to get along with the aides than I was! 😉 I’m pretty fussy! But whatever you do, don’t put her in a nursing home! That’s like death on earth (probably not in all cases, but in many of them). On Twitter I discovered this website: He tweets @Rob_Cares. You might be interested in taking a look at that.

        • Sandra says:

          Interesting. Yes, my mother is signed up with something called genivat, and medicare covers nurses and physical therapists. Not aides. I actually did not know medicare might cover actual RNs. Right now, we’re paying straight out of pocket — actually, I am, as my mother was a depression kid and if she knew what it cost she would fire everyone:) I’m following rob cares now. THank you so much.

  11. Hi hun,
    I am following all of your soc nets now. I love your style of writing. As we have a few things in common, I want to keep track of your writings. Take care and many blessings. Renee of Nae’s Nest.

  12. Amy Morgan says:

    Ah Sandra, I too will try to carry you through this time in prayer as Wylie and many others are. It was heartbreaking to watch my mom come to grips with the losses she suffered due to her traumatic brain injury. It took years and frankly, it just wrecked her. She was highly spirited as it sounds like your mom is. I did not have to deal with the aide situation (instead my father was the primary caregiver at their home – I just did all the rest…) and balancing them both was an interesting challenge. 🙂 Take your rest time where you can get it and don’t worry about watching an empty bird feeder for a while. You can rest and trust me – the birds can fend for themselves for a bit.

  13. Dara Linthwaite says:

    Hi Sandy: This prayer is called “The Caregiver” from the book, “Lifting Women’s Voices”

    Thank you, God, for the opportunity to serve You. With praise for You, I live my days and nights. Sustain me, Lord, as I help sustain another. Strengthen me, for I am weak.
    My burdens are more than I can bear. Lead me in the right direction. As I forget myself to serve, do not let me be forgotten. As I lose myself in another, do not let me be lost. Do not let waves of despair wash over me, nor the pit of isolation close its mouth on me. It is by Your hand and will alone that I am able to serve. Do not forget your servant. Do not forget your child. Lord Jesus, You who knew suffering Yourself, have mercy on me, forgive me, abide with me, abide with those for whom I care. Amen.

    • Sandra says:

      Thank you. Dara. I have sat here reading that a few times so much of it hits home. And too hard but there is comfort there. And hopefully strength. Keep me in your prayers. I’m a little afraid these days.

  14. Mike Adams says:

    This is such a difficult time in life.

    Both of my wife’s grandparents required extensive care, but each of them found a retirement home that they really liked, which was fortunate.

    I was a caregiver for five years in a group home for developmentally and physically disabled adults.

    It was very hard work, but also the most rewarding job I’ve ever had. If I could have made a real living doing it, I’d still be doing that kind of work, but I earned less than $10/hour. It is difficult to find a good caregiver, mostly it’s just a job for someone and usually not a well paid job. People who really care are not common in the field (ironic that the profession is called caregiver!)

    Anyway, you are in my thoughts! Be sure to get sleep and find time to laugh!


  15. Anne says:

    I pray that your mother will feel better soon. It really is both taxing for the one who is sick and for the one taking care of the sick. But like I said in my blog, caring for our loved ones teaches us to love more as our hearts are made bigger by the circumstances.

    Thank you for commenting on my blog. I truly appreciate it.

  16. In your exhaustion you wrote a beautiful piece of prose about the hardships you and your mother are both facing. You helped me feel and understand what you’re going through and I wish there was more a blog reader could do to make it better besides complimenting your writing. Hang in there.

  17. momto8blog says:

    oh dear..I am sorry you both are going through all of this. I know there are times when i just could not pray, for whatever reason…and I would just say over and over and over, “Jesus, I trust in you.”

  18. Hello! I nominated you and your wonderful blog for the Versatile Blogger award.

  19. Elise says:

    Hi, I’m a new linky follower coming from a blog hop! I would love if you followed back at

  20. You may think you live life from the sidelines, simply because you haven’t participated quite as physically as your Mother. However, your minds eye takes you even more places than she ever thought to go. Ride on!

  21. Great post. Your Mom’s advice, “Don’t be afraid of life” reminds me of my Dad, who used to say “Don’t be a chicken all your life.” He was usually joking when he said it, but it has stuck with me.

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