It is a lesson in patience to bite our lips and keep our fingers still rather than trying to build her the perfect piece of fishing equipment. We are slow to learn, and are still working out the right way to respond when she admits the minnow is gone. We usually just point out another fish and renew our hope that perhaps she'll be able to catch it.
My father's story will sound familiar to many people. Naturally should he be an obvious risk to other drivers -- and to himself -- removing his license would be essential. But this is not the case. As with many older people in the early stages of chronic illnesses, like dementia, the disease progress slowly destroys skills and abilities.
How you treat your aging mother is an example to your own children on how to treat you as you enter you final lap, a passage that can be physically painful and lonely. Be consistently grumpy around your old mom and your kids may do the same when you are their old mom- and stick you in a nursing home far away from your grandchildren.
As I've watched my mother grow old I realize how little control we have about how long we are fated to live. I've changed my thinking about the goal of a long life. Quality of life is more important to me. And how much control do we have over that? Still, I hope I will have the kind of spirit and pride Mom shows the world despite her certainty that she has outlived her time.
I've never felt so conflicted as I did when I packed up 40 years worth of family possessions from the only home I ever knew. Watching your parents age and being the one on the front lines of denial -- I'm not moving, I don't need help, etc. -- slaps you awake into a reality no one wants, or is prepared, to face.