The Walk

 Walking my Mom back to her room tonight, I am reminded of how much my Mom has slowed down. She left her walker back in her room and so I go and get it and return to walk her again. I know tonight is not the best night to go for a walk. She is tired, so very tired. I can see it in her face and even in the way she tries to get up. She bends her knees, grabs for the table to try and pull herself up. She is worried about her coffee and I am worried of how I am going to get her back to her room.

For those of you that don’t know, my Mom has always been a walker. Walking has given her pleasure, kept her slim and trim and given her much time for her thoughts. When I was in college, I would call for Mom and Dad would say, “She walked to the Dairy Queen” or “She walked to get the mail and stop by Pete’s”. She would walk in my home town and when they wintered in Yuma, she picked a route close to their home. I remember my Dad told me a story that once, when she was walking, she passed a house and a pitbull chased her. She was not walking in the best neighborhood, we found out and my Dad encouraged her to change her route.

When I was home, I enjoyed walking with her. It was a time we would catch up, talk about nursing school, boys, books that we were reading and my brother. She was a fast walker, and so was I. We always ended up having a DQ, and talking with her friends.

When Mom started to get confused, friends would call me and say she kept getting turned around. She would ask people how to get back home. I think I was in a little bit of denial. After all of these years and all of her walks, how could she forget her way home. One of the hardest calls was from one of her friends, stating that Mom got confused coming home from the grocery store. The store is only two long blocks away. She had asked a stranger where her house was. In a small town, the story came back to me. My heart hurt. One of the things I did not want her to give up was her nightly walks. Could she walk with friends? Maybe she could just walk in the day time?

Soon after that, I moved her to Holly Ridge, which is our local assisted living. She walked to church a few times, but the staff and I were worried about her not getting back. “I can walk to church, its only a few blocks away”. Saying no to her was very hard. You find yourself saying no to so many things that mean so much to her.

Fast forward a few years now and we are still walking…slow, steady but nowhere near what I remember. As I watch her now, her left foot is dragging a little, her back is full of osteoporosis, her hands are gripping the walker and her breathing is labored. Tired.

I am sure a wheelchair will be the next step but I can barely get that word out of my mouth. I am praying she will keep those legs moving for awhile, just like she has done for the last 87 years. Tomorrow, I am going to take her outside if it is nice. We are going to check “her” bird feeder. Tomorrow is a new day…