When That Other Self Shows Up and Won’t Shut Up!

"That Other Self", 2018, 30" x 22", chalk pastel on paper

"That Other Self", 2018, 30" x 22", chalk pastel on paper

So….I’m supposed to be in France right now. I’d applied for and been accepted into the ceramics A.I.R. Vallauris residency in the beautiful south of France, bordering on the Mediterranean.

It was the morning of the day I was leaving when I called my Mom. My suitcases were not only packed they were zipped! Mom is very sick, and on Hospice. She suffered brain damage from a car accident 5 years ago. She’s since then developed Parkinson’s and Dementia. She’s still at home with around the clock help. I’m a caregiver but knew that she would be in good hands while I was away.

When I spoke with her on the phone that morning I knew she’d entered a new phase of the dementia. The difference in her behavior from the day before, when I was with her, to that morning, was remarkable.

Okay, do I stay or leave? The decision was about me, not Mom. These last 5 years of accompanying her through her illnesses have been the best ones we’ve ever had as mother and daughter. I’ve learned about patience, courage, and love.  But I’ve also struggled with how to take care of myself while continuing to care for Mom.

That morning, standing in my kitchen, looking at my suitcases, and listening to Mom, I knew I had about 2 hours to make a decision. I’d sacrificed a lot for my mother. I was feeling intense rage and compassion, lots of “selves” at war in my head.

As you know from the first sentence, I stayed in Baltimore. I’m working to make peace with my decision. The residency is allowing me to reschedule for October.