Adjusting Under My Rock

1990 Mom and baby Jacob

The 10K I ran in May was the last time I ran 6 miles . . .  or 5 or 4 for that matter.  Running 3 miles two or three days a week is about it, and even that has become difficult.  Ugh!  How can I lose 3 miles in one month?!  The short answer?   Stress.   During my recent visit to Minneapolis that included moving my mom into her new Assisted Living home — I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t take care of myself and I didn’t run.  I was a wreck and lost 5lbs in 10 days.  I’m pretty sure those pounds were my newly acquired 10K muscles.

When I arrived back home in Virgina, I was sick for a week and felt like I’d been run over by a truck.   And I’ve pretty much been under a rock ever since.  Recovering.  Keeping to myself in prime reclusive form.  Avoiding people.  Some might call this depression.  But I like to think of my solitude as more of an adjustment period.

Adjusting is not new to me.  As a mother, and even as a daughter of aging parents, the adjustments are aplenty.  Putting my children on the kindergarten bus comes to mind, as well as watching my newly licensed children drive away for the first time.  And of course there’s the adjustment period I’m currently in — letting go of my children as they learn to fly on their own, and letting go of my mom who is in her 7th year with Alzheimer’s.

The dictionary defines adjustment as “adaptation; harmony achieved by modification or change of a position.”

In the above definition, LETTING GO is my modification.

1993 Jordan Ruth is named after my mom.

Letting go is saying YES TO WHAT IS.   It’s saying yes to what is true right now.  While we may not like what is true, if we are to live in harmony, we have no other choice than to let go and accept.  The opposite of letting go is grasping, and with grasping comes wishing, wanting, clenching and suffering — not a harmonious place to be.

So I am working on letting go of my children and letting go of my mom.  I am adjusting.  I’m changing my position from being the center of my children’s lives to being silently by their side, readily available with a hug or advice, while they take the wheel and navigate the trajectory of their lives.

Letting go of my mom is different.  I’m saying the real good bye as I let go of my mom.   She is still with us, but because of  Alzheimer’s, I’m saying good bye to the mom who sang in the church choir, hung clothes on the line and called my children by name.  I’m saying good bye to the mom who sent birthday cards, visited me in Virginia and who called on the phone just to say hello.  Since using the words “mom” and “daughter” are confusing, I’m saying good bye to them as well.  I’ll be her friend.  I’m changing my position from being a daughter she knew and loved to that of a being a really nice woman with a friendly smile who likes to hug.   I’ll be her loving friend who calls her Ruth instead of mom . . .  who will do anything for her.

Adjusting and letting go.  Changing my position.

Soon, in a few years I would imagine, Alzheimer’s will complete it’s grip on my mom.  Then I’ll be saying good bye to mom’s physical form.   I’d like to think this won’t be too difficult as I’ll have said all my good byes by then.  But I’m probably mistaken.  And then I might be adjusting again.

Under my rock.

1996 Jake's first day of Kindergarten

1998 Jordan's first day of Kindergarten

 

2003 Mom with Jake and Jordan at Rush Lake in Minnesota. Pre-Alzheimer's symptoms.

2007 Jake's first solo drive. 16 years old.

 

2009 Jordan's first solo drive 16 years old

 

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Comments

  1. Joanne, what an awesome post … I absolutely love all the photographs, and that you TOOK all these photographs, recognizing the importance of each of these moments. I also love that you are acknowledging the pain you’re feeling around these things, while realizing that letting go, with kindness for the process, is what’s going to transform the suffering. You are amazing, truly an embodiment of someone trying to live the motto: Keep Calmly Knowing Change.

  2. Tupac Shakur says:

    Your son’s hair is wack.

    • Joanne Leonardis says:

      Hi Tupac, I see what you mean. Funny thing is, I tried to get him to change it and he wouldn’t let me touch it. I wonder if he remembers all the times I encouraged him to style his hair off his forehead? Oh well, if you haven’t seen him lately, his hair looks pretty good now.

  3. Chris Lingle says:

    LOVE this…

  4. Heidi Hall says:

    Beautifully written.

  5. Mary Ellen Kennedy Kollodge says:

    You have a gift for writing, Joanne. Your observations and recollections are poignant, beautifully expressed, and helpful. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and memories.
    Have you received the memories I recalled of Ruth as a childhood friend and playmate?

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