It was supposed to be temporary. Just until I found some place new, and close. That was eight years ago. Eight years of living with my soon to be 85-year-old mother. Now if you saw and met her, you would think she was maybe 65. Everyone is amazed at the fact that she's 85-ish because she does not look it (at all), does not act it (trust me) and refuses to feel her age - "whatever that means" she insists. I really, really, really hope that I have that gene.
Mom is an artist and paints on canvas and porcelain - mainly porcelain these days. I love her work, however, if we have a 4.5 earthquake, the house is going to look like a bad Greek wedding with all the broken plates. She still drives and will go to her china painting seminars where she is more talented than the teachers. She has an iPhone, iPad and iMac - we call her iGramdma. She loves to play solitaire and mahjong and consistently wins in record time. She loves her two buck chuck while watching Serbian soap operas on Balkan tv via her computer. I'm sure that once she figures out Netflix, I won't be seeing her much.
She recently opened her own Etsy store where she sells her porcelain work as well as some jewelry pieces and recently had a $400 sale! She's amazing and inspiring and only within the last year have I noticed her slowing down. Noticed her walking just like her father. Kind of bow-legged, as if she can't straighten her legs. And she walks slower as well. She used to cook dinner and put dishes in the dishwasher. Now she has gotten a bit weaker, can't raise her arms as high as she used to and leaves the cooking and cleaning to me. While she is able to put on a bra, she can't unhook it. "Unhook me ok?" is a daily highlight. And once the wine kicks in, the conversation turns to either her survival stories from the war, friends who have died or horror stories of aging. No, I did NOT know that your pubic hair turns grey. Jesus. I listen to everything she says and I hear her.
I hold this time precious because I know she's slowing down and I love her so much. At first, I was impatient with her not walking fast enough to the car, or being unable to carry groceries or falling asleep in front of the tv by 7pm. And I know it frustrates her as well to not be able to do everything she used to do. However, I am eternally grateful that her mind is sharp and that she can remember so much and that she is incredibly funny and that she got her first dog when she turned 75. A corgi. They are inseparable. I look at our time as a life lesson. A life lesson on love and family and compassion and grace. Slowing down simply means I need to slow down with her and enjoy every minute together. Mom just asked me if she should look into sports bras. Let the games begin!