Regrets of a daughter
Regrets of a daughter by Maria Acevedo.
To understand my story, I have to tell you about my mom. She had my sister and I at the age of 45 years old, which is kind of late for a woman to have kids. My mom had 6 children, three lived in our native country of Ecuador and three lived here in Miami. She loved her independence, she loved being alone and I respected that. She was not a loving person or at least didn’t show love. I think she loved her kids only. Which bothered me as my kids didn’t have a loving grandma. But I understand and forgive her as I know that it is due to her childhood. My mom grew up without her parents and was raised in an orphanage. She was a tough cookie, at least on the outside.
My mom moved to Miami, Florida thanks to my older brother who had come to the U.S on a scholarship and when financially able decided to bring my mom, dad and us to pursue a better life. Except, our dad didn’t feel the same way and chose to stay behind. There were no hard feelings between my mom and dad as my dad came to visit us a few times and they got along and did try living with us for about 10 years until he had enough of my mom and chose to go back home where he later passed away and was laid to rest.
My mom was tough, both physically and mentally. When my sister and I moved out and my dad went back to Ecuador, she was perfectly okay living alone in her house, I think she enjoyed not having people telling her how to live her life. She had a few health issues extending from the birth of my twin and I, nothing that was not controlled, high blood pressure to be specific.
At the age of 80 years old, during a routine cardiologist visit, it was discovered that she would need a quadruple bypass and a carotid artery bypass, the operation was a success and she recuperated 100%. I was amazed on how tough my mom was, if it would have been me, I would have been in bed the whole time, but not her, she started doing her house chores and going out like nothing had happened. I admired the woman, whom I was lucky to call my mom. She went on with her life, walking every day, riding on buses every day as she hated to be cooped up at home, she would wake-up, eat her breakfast and take the bus to downtown Miami, Best buy, International mall. We would call her to see if she was home so that we can go visit her and she was never home during the day, we used to have a nick name for her “pata caliente” which meant “hot feet” because she was never home.
Health wise,she did well for next 8 years, in her late 80’s she began to fall often, at home, or even out on the street. It wasn’t just falling but fainting, in one of those falls, she was taken to the Hospital where they ran test and was diagnosed with anemia. She was also a diabetic, at first it was controlled with pills but later on she became insulin dependent; however, she continued to live alone. Of course, the three of us who lived here would see her often, take her shopping if she needed to, and make our rounds. I myself more than the other two.
In 2010 she was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure, which I had no clue what it meant and I regret not learning more about the illness. Later in years due to this illness, she would be in the hospital every other month, then every month and finally every week. What I didn’t know was also that she was developing Alzheimer’s/ dementia. But I guess, I would have been aware if I would have accompanied her to her doctor appointments, but I never knew how sick my mom was. I knew something was happening when I would go visit her and she will tell me stories of people visiting her during the night and having parties in her living room which I knew was not true, but I blew it off as it was a dream and I dismissed it. Oh, how I regret this now!
In one of her hospitalizations, the attending physician took me aside and told me that my mom can no longer live on her own as she was over and under medicating herself. She was eating food that had too much salt and salt is prohibited for patients with CHF as it promoted fluid buildup. This is the sad part, three of us living in Miami at only a few miles away, none of us could take her to live with us, we all came up with excuses and one of us is well off and could have very well hired a private nurse to watch over her but that was never brought to the table. Instead, we ended up placing her at an assisted living facility owned by the nurse that had been taking of her through an agency for the past year. My heart broke when we didn’t even give my mom a chance to say goodbye to her belongings at her apartment and took her straight to the A.L.F., to live with strangers, men and women who were in the same condition as my mom. My mom was never a fan of living with men, she disliked them, she thought they were perverts. All three of us would go visit her every day, and made her room as homely as possible but it was heart wrenching when one of the ladies that would take care of her would tell me that at night might my mom would pray herself to sleep.
I don’t want to put down A.L.F’s as I am sure there are some that treat the elderly with the respect that they deserve, but the place that we took my mom didn’t know how to deal with patients such as my mom. My mom became very agitated and was quickly given medication for the dementia which would have my mom in a mental state that was worrisome. A.L.F’s keep their patients sedated and that is so they have less to deal with. I understand that dementia patients become children but they should learn to deal with them instead of becoming angry at them. One specific caretaker would call my mom names and automatically call me and the paramedics accusing my mom that she was becoming violent and they would end up taking her to the hospital ER. When I would arrive, my mom was a little old lady and not the violent person that they claimed. But guess what, I would believe the women at the A.L.F. instead of my mom, do you know that REGRET that I have to live with.
After a few months of this, my sister and I went to see my mom and we found my mom in a deplorable state, she wasn’t opening her eyes, the A.L.F. didn’t even call us to tell us that there was something wrong with her, my sister and I put in her in my car, God gave us the strength to do that, as my mom was a heavy woman and took her to another A.L.F. that my sister had been recommended. We took her to this place believing that the women was a nurse and would take care of my mom, we knew something was wrong with my mom but the lady said don’t worry she is fine, we left her there and would visit her every day. We didn’t see improvement and we thought that my mom was going to pass away so I had a priest come in to give her last rites. The following day we didn’t like how my mom was being taking care of as that lady who owned the home didn’t like us calling her every day or going to visit my mom on a daily basis, we grabbed my mom and not knowing where to take her and knowing that my mom was not well, we took her to the hospital. She was diagnosed with the Swine Flu and after two weeks of being there, she bounced back and was back to being herself. RELIEVED.
Not knowing where to take her after this hospitalization, I talked to the Social services department at the hospital, where they helped me find a rehabilitation/nursing home for my mom. I went to checkout a place in Coral Gables, which was very fancy and accepted my mom’s insurances. We were very happy with the attention my mom received, my mom had developed a huge ulcer on her foot due to her diabetes so my mom could no longer walk and was wheelchair bound. We would visit her on a daily basis and on weekend would take her to the park by the rehab place to get sun, we think she loved it. Due to her Dementia/Alzheimer’s sunset was not a good time for us nor my mom, she would get very agitated and mean. I remember once late afternoon, I took her to the Publix Supermarket across the rehab facility, and she was insulting to me and my son, I used to get upset with her, but now I regret it. I should have been patient with her.
My mom passed away on June 13, 2013 at the age of 91 years old. I regret not having her last year, months, and days spent with me, I regret not being patient with her, I regret screaming at her, I regret not believing her, I regret not spending more time with her. She was always there jut not her mind.
There is a poem that brought me to tears that I would like to share with you:
Do not ask me to remember,
don’t try to make me understand.
Let me rest and know you’re with me,
kiss my cheek and hold my hand.
I’m confused beyond your concept, I’m sad and sick and lost.
All I know is that I need you, to be with me at all cost.
Do not lose your patience with me, do not scold or curse or cry.
I can’t help the way I’m acting, I can’t be different though I try.
Just remember that I need you, that the best of me is gone.
Please don’t fall to stand beside me, love me ’till my life is gone.
Every time I read this poem, I cry because I did everything that the poem said not to do and it kills me inside.
Don’t make the same mistakes I did, read about Alzheimer’s and Dementia. I wish I had taken the time to read all about it, the side effects, the symptoms and how to handle a loved one who has been diagnosed with the disease.