Dear Impatient Adult Child, Shopping With Your Elderly Mother: Give Her a Minute

I was perusing my grocery store’s summer clearance-sale stuff when my attention was jolted by the tone – loud, sharp, impatient – that accompanied the words.

“Mom! Come on!”

The speaker was a nicely dressed woman about my age, with a man – maybe her husband – standing nearby. The woman turned to the man. “This is why I hate to take her shopping!”

I followed the couple’s glare and looked toward the source of their angst, far down the greeting-card aisle, to the only person there, a white-haired, stooped-shoulder woman who stood barely more than 5 feet tall, intently studying the cards.

Either the elderly woman didn’t hear, “Mom! Come on!” or she ignored it. She carefully picked up a card, looked at it, then returned it to its slot. She slowly picked up another card, looked at it, then returned it to its slot.

I left the aisle feeling angry at the couple, and protective of the little white-haired woman carefully picking out a $5.99 greeting card for Lord knows who, maybe even for one of those impatient adult kids who’d grudgingly taken her shopping. Maybe she was looking for a thank-you card to express her gratitude for the grand shopping imposition. I don’t know.

I do know there’s so much I’d like to have said to that couple, words that would have taken more minutes for me to say than it would have taken that older woman to pick out a year’s worth of greeting cards for her entire family and her remaining living friends.

I’d ask why it was such a profound hardship for them to allow their mom to take her sweet ever-lovin’ time choosing cards. Did they have a kidney on standby? Were they on the verge of missing a train, plane or appointment with the Pope? I’d have pointed out that if that elderly woman was a typical American mother, she’d invested countless minutes over the lifetime of that impatient brat of a grown-up kid.

Would it kill them to just let the woman look at cards until she was ready to go? And how disrespectful of them to actually holler to this woman from the end of the aisle, not even having the courtesy to walk up to her and speak politely, with love.

Hey, Mom? I know you’re thoroughly enjoying looking through cards, but I just got a call from the transplant headquarters and they finally found a kidney for me. No worries. Take your time.

Clearly, unfortunately, the older woman was dependent upon the bratty adult kids for a ride to the store where she could select greeting cards. It got me wondering how many hours that elderly mom had spent schlepping her disrespectful kids around in their youth, back when that woman was a young mother. It made me think that surely they must have forgotten all the minutes she’d invested in motherhood. They must have forgotten or they would have never spoken to her that way.

“Mom! Come on!”

In case the adult kids were suffering from amnesia, I’m here to offer examples of common mother endeavors that might jog their selfish memories, things that took scores of minutes from that older woman’s life, starting from when she was a young woman. Let’s use some mothering math, shall we? Let’s assume that elderly woman was probably in full-on mother mode for about 18 years per kid,  so if her twilight needy years lasted as long as it took her to raise a typical kid, then it’s only fair that her impatient kids invest a fraction of the minutes in giving to the woman as she gave and gave and gave of herself.

To justify my math, I’ve made a list of sample motherly activities that elderly woman might have done many years ago, back when her children were babies, kids and teens; back when they relied upon her to grow and learn and become a functioning member of society.

This is an incomplete list, not in any particular order. Of course, much of this list could apply to foster parents, adoptive parents, guardians, custodial grandparents and fathers, too. But today, I’m thinking of the typical mother in general, and that older woman in the card aisle in particular. Feel free to add your own in the comments section if I’ve forgotten any.

Many Mothering Minutes

• Minutes spent hosting enduring sleepovers for her kids and their friends.

• Minutes spent writing invitations and planning kids’ birthday parties.

• Minutes spent taking photos of the kids and their childhood experiences. (On a related note, if there seems an absence of mother and child photos, it’s probably because she was the family photographer.)

• Minutes spent teaching children to talk.

• Minutes spent removing splinters, wiping noses, and applying BandAids.

• Minutes spent making sure children’s teeth were brushed and bodies were bathed and hair was washed.

• Minutes spent cooking family meals and cleaning up afterward.

• Minutes spent allowing kids to have a pet, even if she wasn’t a fan of dogs, cats, birds, fish, reptiles and/or rodents. Additional minutes spent taking care of the animals 80 percent of the time, even after the kids promised they’d do it.

• Minutes spent thoughtfully choosing the perfect cards and gifts and surprises for her kids.

• Minutes spent taking kids shopping for friends’ birthdays, and for kids’ teachers, coaches and relatives.

• Minutes spent holiday shopping and wrapping.

• Minutes spent playing the part of Santa, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny.

• Minutes spent cleaning, doing family laundry, sewing and ironing.

• Minutes spent teaching teens to drive.

• Minutes spent lying awake waiting for teens to return home at night.

• Minutes spent in emergency rooms.

• Minutes spent making birthday cakes.

• Minutes spent making a childhood’s worth of Halloween costumes.

• Minutes spent trick-or-treating, waiting on the sidewalk in the dark.

• Minutes spent carving Halloween pumpkins.

• Minutes spent welcoming kids’ friends into her home.

• Minutes spent driving kids to sports, friends’ homes, summer camp, school, doctor and dentist appointments.

• Minutes spent taking kids shopping for school clothes, shoes and supplies.

• Minutes spent signing her children up for swimming lessons, and then extra minutes sitting and waiting in the heat while her kids learned to swim, starting with blowing bubbles, all the way until they could dive and swim.

• Minutes spent taking kids to the library, the park, the roller rink, the mall, on picnics, to play dates, the pet store, the petting zoo, plays, concerts and movies.

• Minutes spent in parent-teacher conferences and PTA meetings.

• Minutes spent making sure her kids had breakfast, lunch and dinner.

• Minutes spent signing kids up for soccer, baseball, dance, basketball, boy scouts, girl scouts and all kinds of classes: art, music, karate, whatever. And then, once there, the minutes spent waiting and waiting until those things were over.

• Minutes spent volunteering as room mother, den mother, brownie leader, chaperone and car-pooler.

• Minutes spent helping with homework, including dioramas and science projects.

• Minutes spent reading to her kids.

• Minutes spent offering praise, comfort and encouragement.

• Minutes spent hugging, kissing and cuddling her kids.

• Minutes spent dealing with head lice, pin worms, teething, ring work, cradle cap, thrush, diarrhea, projectile vomiting and bloody noses.

• Minutes spent teaching numbers, ABC’s, colors, shapes and animal sounds.

• Minutes spent singing to her children and reciting nursery rhymes.

• Minutes spent holding her kids during nightmares, or thunder, or while getting a shot.

• Minutes spent teaching manners; to say “please” and “thank you” and how to write a proper thank-you note.

• Minutes spent showing how to tie shoes.

• Minutes spent showing how to hold a spoon and use a knife and fork.

• Minutes spent teaching how to ride a bike.

• Minutes spent worrying and wondering if her kids were OK.

• Minutes spent slathering on sunscreen and misting kids with insect spray, and insisting upon helmets, knee pads and mouth guards.

• Minutes spent making her kids favorite foods and treats.

• Minutes spent caring for her kids when they were sick.

• Minutes spent packing lunches or making sure her kids had lunch money.

• Minutes spent writing notes to tuck inside lunchboxes and/or coat pockets.

• Minutes spent proudly displaying kids’ artwork on the refrigerator.

• Minutes spent loudly cheering and applauding for her kids at sporting events, concerts, plays and graduations.

• Minutes spent making sure her kids’ hair was cut and their nails were clean and clipped, especially for school picture day.

• Minutes spent attending school open houses, rehearsals and recitals.

• Minutes spent double checking to make sure her kids were where they said they’d be.

• Minutes spent insisting she meet her kids’ friends’ parents.

• Minutes spent volunteering in classrooms and on field trips.

• Minutes spent ensuring her children had current immunizations and dental checkups.

• Minutes spent, after her kids grew up and left home, sending care packages, birthday cards and gifts, no matter where they were, or how far away they’d moved.

• Minutes spent, after her kids had flown the nest, to welcome them back for meals, celebrations and a place to do laundry and get advice.

• Minutes of lost sleep staying up with infants. Extra credit for colicky babies.

• Minutes spent changing diapers, bathing and dressing babies and toddlers.

• Minutes spent changing sheets after nighttime accidents.

• Minutes spent potty training.

• Minutes spent, long after she ceased being a young mother, showing up bearing gifts for milestone events: graduations, weddings, holidays and for her children and grandchildren’s special celebrations.

• Minutes spent being a supportive, loving grandmother to her children’s children.

• Minutes spent buying decades’ worth of grocery-store greeting cards to express all kinds of sentiments: happy birthday, congratulations, and sympathy.

So many minutes!

What’s that you say? What if those impatient adults in the grocery store aisle were rightfully pissed at that elderly woman who slowly selected greeting cards because she was actually a lousy mother who didn’t do any of those things I mentioned above? What if she was, in fact, an absent mother; a dysfunctional, emotionally unavailable mother who’d never be a candidate for Mother of the Year, even on her best day?

If that’s the case, my heart goes out to those adult children. I’m sorry they can’t relate to my list of motherly minutes.

Even so, they’re still not entirely off the hook, because I saved the best for last; the No. 1 thing she did for which she deserves some credit: She carried her child inside her body, and she gave that baby life. (And for adopted kids, that’s yet another level of significant motherly minutes.)

And that’s my No. 1 reason — oh rude and petulant adult child, yelling down a grocery store aisle — why it won’t kill you to be a cheerful giver and spend a few extra minutes to allow your mom to select as many greeting cards to her heart’s content.

Besides, there will come a day when she’s gone, and the impatient adult child will take her place and become the stooped-over person in the grocery store aisle, trying to hurry, but dependent upon a ride, and just a few more minutes.

“Mom! Come on!”

For now, just give her a minute. She’s earned it.

Doni Chamberlain
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Chamberlain is an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, California.
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45 Responses

  1. Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

    My kids, son and two daughters, take care of my wife and I. The one daughter and son in Phoenix can’t seem too do enough for us as they are always asking what they can do. Our two older granddaughters are the same way. The six and 8 year old granddaughters are into, hurry up grandpa, as I try to keep up with them in my walker though the 8 year old is becoming more patient.
    I still can take myself to the doctor but I do see other elderly patients who have a younger person, usually a woman, that brings them. On our street several houses, like ours, have three generations living there.
    Sadly there are, just a few, that feel their parents should be tied to a tree and left for the bears. One article in WaPo was from a woman who lamented that her elderly mother expected her to care for her in her old age.
    To aid those with elderly in the home Medicare pays for some in home care that allows caregivers to come to the house a few times a week for support, such as exercising physical and mental. I used them for a week after I came out of rehab but don’t need them anymore, knock on wood. In return we give free baby sitting, lovingly, to the smaller granddaughters. Childcare has become almost prohibitive for working families.

    • Bruce, how fortunate you are to be surrounded by family who are there to help you; graciously and with love.

      A few months ago my sister and I were sitting outside Mercy hospital after visiting our Mama Sue, when we noticed an elderly woman in a wheel chair, waiting by the curb. It was a warm day, and she was there quite a while. We asked if she had a ride coming soon, and the woman said yes, but whoever it was was a very busy person. Eventually, the busy person arrived, pulled up, sour-faced, not a word of greeting or asking how the elderly woman was feeling. The younger busy woman loaded the older woman up in the car and drove away. It was so sad, because obviously the older woman needed the younger woman, and obviously the younger woman resented it.

      It sounds like you’ve found the perfect balance of helping each other. I’m so happy for you, Bruce.

    • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

      I sometimes feel like a caged animal when shopping, and I’ve asked myself if I would be a shining example of patience while accompanying an elderly parent on an excursion.

      Probably not. I doubt that good intentions would make that caged animal feeling go away. But, I know that I would fight to stay patient and engaging, even as the the little voice inside yelled, “Let’s get the hell out of here!”

      My mom died eighteen years ago. She was sixty-four. I wish I’d had the chance to fight that fight.

      • Oh, Hal, I’m sorry about the loss of your mom too soon.

        You crack me up about being like a caged animal when shopping. I seriously think in that case, the person who’d need a ride and your time would understand it’s not personal; that you hate shopping no matter who it’s with. Maybe it would even be funny.

        I can tell you were a patient, loving son, Hal. I’m sorry you didn’t get a chance to spend more time with your mother. I’m glad she was born, because of her, you’re here.

  2. Avatar erin friedman says:

    Yes, yes yes! A little bit of patience for ALL those minutes (and minutes and minutes) and the Worry Minutes — which, apparently, go on forever and ever, amen. And while we are talking about being patient with family members, I’d like to put in a word for children — who are curious about everything: Slow down and let them walk at their own pace and look around. What’s another minute?

    • You are so right, Erin, to mention children, who are really like little old people, except with more energy. I think the reason I’m a better grandmother than a mother is I have more patience, and understand the value of being in the moment more than rushing on to the next thing.

  3. Avatar Karen Calanchini says:

    As one who is elderly and with an even more elderly husband, I loved your article. The world seems to be going too fast these days. We must take our time, we do not want to fall, trip, do something wrong. One day a female family member asked me to iron her dress, she was going to a school reunion and did not have the time to iron the dress before making the trip up here. The material was delicate, sheer and I wanted to be sure I did not burn it. I was taking my time, to get it right. Suddenly, in a raised voice , I was told that is good enough, and she pulled the dress off of the iron. I was hurt and shocked.

    I tried not to take it personally, because it is her nature to work fast, wanting to always get done , the thing that she is doing. I am always telling younger folks to “slow down, enjoy the moment”. Everyone is always so busy and because of this, I see disrespect, hurt feelings, and a chance to enjoy being with an elderly, and usually fascinating person, with much wisdom, and willingness to help, if even a bit slower.

    • “Slow down. Enjoy the moment.” If I were into tattoos, that would be a good one.

      Sad story about the dress. My way of seeing that is it’s too bad she didn’t just appreciate the gift of time you were giving to iron her dress, and let you take all the time you needed. (I hope you remember that for next time.) And I’m glad you didn’t take it personally, Karen. It’s her, not you.

  4. Avatar Kris Hegland says:

    Each of us should consider it an honor and privilege to help our elders through their later years. It’s an incredibly small price to pay for all they did for us. Our world would be a much better place for it.

    • I agree, Kris. You know, I have friends who are Hispanic, and they said in their culture it’s VERY rare, except in extreme circumstances, for an elderly family member to go to assisted living or any other place for care. They said that it’s in their culture to keep the elderly at home with the younger generation, even it if means taking turns and having him/her live with the different kids. This makes sense to me, and it’s so much more humane.

      When visiting Mama Sue in a rehab facility, my heart was broken by all the people stored there. The special dining room was especially depressing, as that’s where residents/patients went if they couldn’t be relied upon to feed themselves. Often, the meals were late, and when the trays were passed out, I noticed that the residents in the very worst condition – the most out of it – staff would get to last to spoon feed. By then, of course, the food was cold. It just depressed the hell out of me and made me vow to never be in a place like that.

  5. Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

    My sister, her daughter, and I had taken my dear Mother shopping. She was using a walker, the type that had a seat. She was looking for some Christmas-y clothes; so we had her sit on her walker while each of us brought items to her for inspection. Several people watched and smiled, as though this were an oddity. It’s been years since she died, and I miss her every day.

    You nailed this one, Doni. Thanks. And a pox on that bratty couple.

  6. Avatar Tim says:

    This is like a verbal Rorschach test…

    I imagine a daughter-in-law who was never good enough yet who still finds herself thanklessly schlepping an early-stage dementia grandma around town while hubby just shrugs. Meanwhile confused mom stops at every greeting card rack to pick up a card to send to her other, more favored, son who she thinks is still on a 1991 deployment to the persian gulf but in reality is living happily in LA and absent from her life except for an annual call on Christmas.

    • LOL, leave it to you to look at it this way, but you’re right. Your version is entirely plausible. And you made me laugh, because I could absolutely see your story as a possible scenario.

      This column is what came to my mind after seeing that one moment in time, without all the information.

      But is it ever OK to treat a human that way – yelling impatiently across a store aisle – no matter who they are, and no matter how unappreciated the daughter-in-law might be, and no matter how far gone granny’s brain may be? I say no.

      But at any rate, that’s why I added the part in the end about dysfunctional parents, and why even they deserve some tiny measure of minute returned for whatever their measly investment might have been.

      Of course, there are caveats: There are toxic, demanding, emotionally abusive, ungrateful elderly folks out there who are impossible to deal with, and the healthiest thing anyone could do is save yourself and stay far away, for the sake of your own mental health and well being. It’s kind of like what someone dear to me says about people with cancer: Just because they’re dying of cancer, doesn’t mean they’re a nice person. Same with the elderly. I’m not saying that a horrible, mean and nasty older person deserves our time and sacrifice. But I know plenty of sweet, grateful older folks who’ve given their lives freely for their families, and in the end, there’s nobody there for them. Those are the stories that kill me and confuse me. I just don’t get it.

      • Avatar Tim says:

        I definitely don’t think it is okay to treat each other that way, but I’d like to think it was an isolated outburst from an exasperated caregiver stretched too thin. I’d also like to think Grandma’s seeming preference for the prodigal son is really a reflection of her surface denial of his abandonment combined with a subconscious hope that conspicuously favoring him will ultimately win his affection & attention.

        But that just comes from my biases & experiences of people being the most nasty to each other when they are really focused on shoring up their insecurity with outside parties (e.g. Supermom subconsciously feels she isn’t winning approval from inattentive hubby so she lashes out at grandma for lowering her productivity)

  7. Avatar Curtis says:

    To that woman telling at her mom: Shame on you! My mom died at age 56, I was 37 years old. How I would give anything to be able to take my mom shopping. To those of you who still have your parents, cherish them. They may not have been the perfect parent, but neither are you. BE KIND..

    • Curtis, your mother, like Hal’s died much too young! I’m so sorry.

      And it wouldn’t take a psychologist to realize that one of the reasons that encounter bugged me so much was because I lost my mother when I was a kid, and I couldn’t help but wish I had a mom at this stage of life, and I would like to think it would be my joy and honor to take her grocery shopping.

      Be kind. Indeed. Thank you, Curtis.

  8. Deb Segelitz Deb Segelitz says:

    Well said, Doni!

    I sometimes get impatient with my wonderful Mama, when I am trying to help her sort out her computer issues from 3000 miles away (thank goodness for TeamViewer). I try to remind myself that she took on a computer, email and the internet in her mid-70s and how grateful I am for that, because (a) she didn’t want to in the first place but then acquiesced, and (b) we are in touch multiple times each day as a result, something that is invaluable to both of us.

    I’m not a patient person on my best day so I struggle with this, but I really, really do try… most of all because of a ‘meme’ I saw a year or two ago. It went something like, “To my kids who roll their eyes at me when I don’t understand computers: I taught you how to use a spoon.”

    That made me laugh so much (and so ruefully) that I reposted it on Facebook – which my mother also has embraced – tagging her, specifically, so that I could thank her for teaching me how to use a spoon (and so much else).

    Patience and kindness are not always easy, but they are so, so necessary. Especially towards those who have cared so much for us.

    • You are so wise, Deb. (And I know Joe can relate to your computer woes with your mother, because that’s what he deals with with me.)

      Yes, I saw that meme about the spoon, and it made me laugh, too. Still does.

      🙂 Thank you, Deb.

  9. R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

    I loved to go grocery shopping at WinCo with my dad, who shops as if the apocalypse is coming, pulling canned goods, loaves of bread, pounds of butter, pasta, flour, sugar and whatnot till the cart was overflowing with 300 pounds of groceries. Nowadays, he just grocery shops online at Walmart, they bag it and call him to come pick it up. I guess they call this progress.

    • R.V., what a sight it must have been to see the father-and-son Scheide due shopping at Winco. Your description of how your dad shops cracks me up. (Mr. Scheide, is that true? 😉

      Yeah, I guess it’s progress that your dad can order his groceries online and they’ll be waiting for him, but I feel kinda sad about the lost shopping trips.

  10. Avatar Viki Twyman says:

    Doni, this is such a beautiful article. When I would take my mom shopping, one of our favorite things to do was go to Hallmark and head to the funny card section. We would stand there together and read the cards and laugh until we were both crying. It was so much fun.

    Later, when my mom could not get around on her own, and she was too stubborn, and proud, to use a walker or wheelchair, I would do her shopping for her and I always bought a funny card to take to her.

    She also LOVED root beer floats, so on shopping day I would always get us each a root beer float and a hamburger and fries. We would sit at her little Formica table eating our lunch talking, reminiscing and laughing. I loved those times with her because they were never rushed and I miss those times so very much.

    • Oh, man, Viki, your comment brought tears to my eyes. I can totally imagine everything. How awesome you had that relationship with your mom. And those moments of root beer floats, so simple, and so memorable. I think the unrushed part is what made those times even that more special. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Avatar Candace C says:

    When my lovely and loving mother first started losing her short-term memory and started repeating herself on a loop I often found my self feeling angry and frustrated. I felt horrible about feeling that way because I’m sure my impatience sometimes came through. I couldn’t understand where my anger was coming from until one day a good friend who knew how very close my mother and I were said to me “Candace, you’re not angry, you’re sad. You’re experiencing the loss of a level of communication with your mom that you know and have come to rely on.” She was correct and that realization helped me to curb that anger because I understood it and was better able to process my sense of loss of a piece of my and my mom’s close relationship which involved talking about pretty much everything and anything. I was able to become more patient while continuing to tell and show my mother I loved her. Sure, somedays my impatience admittedly had to be kept in check because after all I’m human. Now that my mother’s no longer here on earth with me I’d give anything for one more minute to simply hold her hand while she looked at me with her beautiful blue eyes and impossibly kind smile while slowly and deliberately replying to me, “I love you too”.

  12. Avatar Doug Cook says:

    Years ago, my wife and I decided to bring my mother in law, who was 80 at the time on a trip to Washington DC to see the sights. We had to constantly remind ourselves to be patient and understanding. For example, at the airport my mother in law had 2 apples in her purse that the TSA agents wouldn’t let her bring through security. Instead of just tossing them. She stood there and decided to eat both of the apples…of course taking her time. I had to bite my lip and walk away. My wife thanked me for that. It was a trip filled with self control and patience

  13. Avatar Bethany says:

    Hear! Hear!

  14. Avatar Candace C says:

    Oh, and yelling at anybody, young, old or in-between in a grocery store unless they’re about to be physically harmed or are physically harming someone else? No. Just, no.

  15. Avatar melody brewer says:

    I’ve worked with senior for years and you would be shocked by the number of children who don’t have time to help or even visit their aging parents. It breaks my heart when a senior says “I don’t want to bother them”, I interpret that they’ve been told before that helping is a bother.
    My older 2 sisters lived within 10 minutes of my mother yet I did more for her living 200 miles away. Everytime my kids had time off from school we’d visit Nana to give my step father a break. When it finally became too much for him (and truthfully he just didn’t want to care for her anymore) she was loaded up with her recliner and driven to my house. Nobody asked her if she wanted to move. My sister would promise to come see her next weekend, it was 6 months of next weekend. My mom had her own demons when we were growing up, she made many mistakes, the was mean and yes I can answer positively to all the ACES. BUT in get dementia she changed, her defenses no longer worked, she was kind and funny,. She was so appreciative of being in a place where she was wanted. Sh was home.
    I have no regrets. This is what I tell adult children taking care of their parents, it’s about having no regrets!!

    • You hit the nail on the head, Melody: Have no regrets.

      You made me laugh about being able to answer positively to all the ACES, and I can relate, but what really struck me is you got a chance with your mom to have a new relationship as she changed into a funny, kinder and more appreciative person. Your sisters missed out, and you have those memories and they do not.

      Speaking of regrets, a wise and wonderful friend of mine, who was an awesome mother (still is) , told of the journals in which she’d chronicled her son’s early childhood. When he grew up, she passed them onto him, and learned that he’d never read one word, and had no desire too, even now that he’s a father with children of his own.

      Her response to him was that one day, after she’s gone, he may regret not reading those sooner. It wasn’t a guilt trip, but a prediction, and a way for her son to avoid some future pain. Her she is, still being a mom, caring about her son.

  16. Avatar Jenny says:

    I’m the youngest and last sibling living here in Redding, with one child living here who helps me take care of my 97 year old, deaf, senile mother. (The others help when they can, but distance is a huge factor. We also pay another relative to come weekly.) My mom, I know, cannot help it when she accuses me of stealing from her. Her whole life she was gentle, generous, humble, determined, and kind. I know it. But I also know that hearing her say mean things on a continuous loop every day tests whatever kindness and generosity I learned from her. When I can summon the fortitude to take her places, we are met with thoughtfulness everywhere we go. They don’t see the frustration I feel. No, this won’t last forever. Yes, I will miss her when she dies. But I already miss her every day–and she’s still here. Candace is right–I’m sad.

    • Oh, Jenny, you have the flipped version of Melody’s scenario. I’m so sorry for what you ensure, and for the loss of the mom you once knew.

    • Avatar Amy says:

      Jenny, I so hear you. I missed my dad for years before he died. The I missed him again when he did. Love to you and Grandma R.

    • Avatar Candace C says:

      Jenny, your comment touched me. I’m so sorry for what you’re going through. It’s hard. It might help you a bit to know that many of the people showing you and your mother thoughtfulness are painfully aware of your hidden frustrations and my guess is that their thoughtfulness more than likely keeps that in mind. Many of us have/had aging parents and deal with it the best we can. From what you’ve said you’re a very kind and loving daughter. I think it’s hard for all of us who are aging and experiencing the ceiling being removed with the loss of our beloved parents. Take good care of yourself.

  17. Avatar Janine Hall says:

    Great article. I am feeling so blessed that I was able to for the most part keep my frustration under check taking my aged Mudder shopping. We called her Mudder because of her German accent. They can’t pronounce the th’s . I can never pass by the little watermelons with out thinking of her. She always wanted the little ones. Not even one serving and me telling her the bigger ones were much better deal. I learned to take inventory before we left the house, never to ask do you need ???. We buy ??? and get home to find more in the fridge. I do think about her when I go shopping, but I am glad I never yelled or lost it my patience. And yes I missed her long before she left.

    • Janine, I remember conversations with you when your mom was alive, and often thought to myself how lucky you were to have each other, but especially, in her last years, how lucky she was to have you. (Cute explanation about your “Mudder”.)

  18. Avatar Ann Webber says:

    I miss my mom every day I was so lucky to have her living with me as she aged. One of my favorite memories of her was her “shopping” in catalogs with my daughter. Planning parties that would never happen and making lists of things they would never buy. She was not well, but had patience and imagination!

  19. Avatar Mimi says:

    In tears. This is so well written. Thank you! Respect and patience are sadly lacking. I fear we have created this attitude. Heartbreaking.

  20. Terry Turner Terry Turner says:

    Curious how it’s raining on my cheeks inside my living room. Thank you, Doni, for such a beautiful, heart-touching column. Your list of what a mother does was so all-encompassing, and so true. Thank you for the great reminder. 🙂

  21. Avatar Larry says:

    How true .

  22. Avatar Larry sparman says:

    I wish I could take my Mom shopping. We lost her in 2004 and I miss her every day. If your Mom is still with you, treasure her, because some day she won’t be around.