12: Mom’s Spa Day

12: Mom’s Spa Day

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Caregivers

Mom’s Spa Day

Forgive all who have offended you, not for them, but for yourself.

~Harriet Nelson

Saturdays were our day together. After her lunch, Mom and I would rendezvous at her apartment in an independent-living community. While awaiting her call, I frequently stopped at our local county library for an hour or so.

One Saturday after Thanksgiving, as I walked through the library lobby, I noticed a sign inviting folks to a free meditation class that day at 11:00 AM. Although it was already 11:10, I ventured up to the room to have a look. This became a weekly endeavor—meditation class every Saturday on the way to visit Mom.

Mom was in her mid-nineties and fairly independent in spite of her macular degeneration. She’d have me thread needles for her most weeks, and I wondered how she managed to sew—mostly minor repairs—with such poor vision.

Even watching TV was a challenge. Mom had me mark her remote control so she could see and feel the correct buttons. I started watching some of her favorite shows, like American Idol and Dancing with the Stars. Discussing her favorite programs gave our conversations a positive focus.

Mom had an impeccable memory, but she had a disagreeable tendency to remember countless flaws of family and friends. “Do you know what she did to me? Well, I can’t tell you how many times she...” and Mom was off and running.

When I’d respond with a question like, “When did that happen, Mom?” she would go back some 50 or 60 years until I managed to find her soft spot during one of our afternoon visits.

Mom loved having her feet gently massaged, but my strong hands were sometimes too rough for her tender, arthritic feet. Since she was no longer able to cut her own toenails, I became her pedicurist as well as her manicurist. For years, I had always cut her hair, so Saturday turned into Mom’s Spa Day.

Since the leader of our meditation class suggested we soak our feet in salt water once a week while meditating, I added that procedure to Mom’s schedule. Gradually, I began to guide Mom in meditation and prayer while her feet soaked. She loved the foot soaking so much that she had the basin and salt ready every Saturday when I arrived, just waiting for me to add the warm water.

The focus of one of our library meditation sessions was forgiveness. Since Mom had a challenge forgetting and forgiving events from yesteryear, I began incorporating a customized adaptation of this forgiveness exercise into her spa schedule as well. I would say slowly, “I forgive everyone who has ever done anything to me at any time. I am sorry for everything that I have ever done to anyone at any time, and I am forgiven.”

Mom would repeat each phrase after me.

Mom’s Saturday spa sessions continued every week for more than two years until, at the age of 95, she grew very weak. She fell at least a dozen times, but never broke a bone. Finally, six months later at 96, it was time for her to go home to the Lord. As I look back, the time we spent together on Spa Day helped both of us prepare for Mom’s final journey.

~Tom Lagana

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