The Road to Buckingham

Jenn

The Road to Buckingham

Jenn
"The Road to daniel-garber-autumn-in-pennsylvaniaBuckingham."

If I had to write a book, a short story, or a memoir about my caregiving journey these days, this would be it: "The Road to Buckingham."

My mother spent her childhood between Doylestown, Pa, and Buckingham, Pa., where her grandparents lived and her father and his brother grew up. The family has been in Bucks County for generations, before America's independence; they were Quakers seeking and living their religious freedom. Slaves were often hidden in my great-grandparents' attic room in the days of the Underground Railroad. Our family founder lived with the Lenape Indians and spoke their language.

My mom traveled the road back and forth to bake, cook, can and preserve foods, garden, help with the laundry for a family of seven. My mom often tells me they did not usually have to walk the entire way to Grannie's house. At the time, everyone knew everyone else in the area and someone would stop and give them a ride. Many times, as they were walking, someone would invite them in for hot cocoa if it was cold, or lemonade and cookies in the summer months. These were safe and fun times for my mom.

Her cousin held weekly dances in his barn. They would go to the Grange Hall for dances and family reunions. In those days, families were large; she had 13 aunts and uncles on both sides of the family. Mom met my father as a teen at one of those dances. This is my heritage and the world my mother lives in today.

I suppose it is a world of safety and comfort, a world without fear and worry with the warmth and love of family support. Mom often thinks I am her cousin. She often talks of needing to get to Buckingham. She thanks me for the hospitality and has several other stops to make. If we drive in the car to church, we are headed to Buckingham, to Grannie and Pops.

The changes in my mother used to scare me and make me uncomfortable. Her need to go would offend me and hurt my feelings. I longed for her to be in the present with me and engage in conversation and activities.

Now, I accept that she is happy and finding some comfort in her mixed-up, confusing world. If she needs to believe I am her cousin, that is okay. At least we are still family and together.

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beachmom

Bless your heart Jenn. I was a caregiver for my mother when she had Alzheimer's . We definitely had good days and bad days. It was hard to make the transition from daughter to caregiver/mother figure for my own mother. Yet, looking back, I can say now that despite the great grief and the loss of our former mother-daughter relationship, what transpired became a new kind of love story between my mom and me. I definitely had to develop a sense of humor ( my mom liked to flirt with her male doctors), and enjoy the very simple pleasures of sunshine on her face and her recognition of it, and her memories that would come and go.\r\n\r\n Jenn, you are in the thick of it....but you are also being a role model for your children about how precious and valued life is at any age, and in any condition. May you continue to find Peace to you in your heart and treasure the time you have.

Jenn

Thank you. I can now read this without crying.....tears of grief for the loss of the mother I knew and tears for the failure I believed I am at not being able to reorient her. I thought if I kept her at home and made her safe and warm in the familiar and in OUR family, she would improve or, at least, maintain. I am not in control. She continues to slip from me and our world. It is okay.

LilMagill

I love what you express here! Transitions are SO HARD but once you get past an expectation, it gets easier. I've experienced this too at a different place - now I'm accepting of the fact that Mom doesn't remember a lot of what I tell her, and it doesn't hurt my feelings now. Before I felt like she didn't care as much as she used to. I love the way you described your mom's early life.

jan

From my humble perspective, you have made huge leaps and bounds in the caregiving process, based on this post. We have to keep looking at the expedience from our moms' point of view and not ours...we might not be happy to live in their world but if they seem to be happy, then we've achieved our goal. It sounds like the world she lives in is a pretty nice one, at that! Hopefully as you embrace your family history and the strength they showed in different times, you will continue to find peace in all of this.

Denise

Oh, Jenn, I love this post! It may have started as a post about your mom's road but it became a story about your road to acceptance. What a powerful insight that your mom's disease process isn't about you but about that--the disease.\r\n\r\nI loved learning about your family's history. As a former resident of Bucks County, I can appreciate this history. It's amazing the legacy you have.\r\n\r\nI so hope it helped to write this out. Thinking of you and your mom. :)