Seeing that Mom is growing increasingly confused by the world around her, I decided to take her on a likely final big trip.
We road tripped it from the East Coast out to Minnesota where Mom grew up. Her entire family still lives in Minnesota though she left I believe the same day she married my father, to move with him for his job in Ohio. She never moved back home. But every year, no matter where we were living, Mom took a trip to Minnesota. She would do a whirlwind tour to see each aunt, second cousin and sibling in a week or two trip, returning exhausted and happy.
So it seemed fitting to repeat the trip with her now. We did a test run of an overnight weekend trip a few months ago and it gave me to confidence to take on the 10 day trip. I of course had to do all the driving, and was matching the trip up with some work meetings, so it was a 17 hour drive over 2 days for me to arrive in time for work meetings. Which would have been fine if Mom had not spent most of the trip asking me to turn around and take her back home. She was stressed and confused the entire drive out.
Then, we made it to the Twin Cities and started seeing family, and Mom was happier than I have seen her in a long time. I kept the visits low key, but we saw all her siblings who were around, a few nieces and nephews and a couple of her closer cousins. Mom kept talking about how nice it would be to live near all of them– something I am far too aware of. We spent some long days after my father’s death weighing the pros and cons of having Mom live near her family or near me. In retrospect the decision had to be made to keep her with me, but I often wish that I could easily find the right job for myself in Minneapolis where she would benefit from the greater community.
And let’s be clear that a woman who spent most of Baltimore’s mild past winter complaining of the cold and refusing to go outside might no longer be cut out for Minnesota!
But the trip was a dream. The one big disappointment was taking Mom to the town where she grew up and finding that she no longer recognized the run down house as the one that she lived in as a child. But she was shockingly able to lead me directly to her parents’ graves in the local cemetery when we stopped there to pay respects. It continues to fascinate me which habits or deep enough memories stay with her and which things fade faster as her mind goes.
Family always mattered most to Mom, so it was wonderful to see that she recognized them all, and she spent the days in a haze of laughter and togetherness. I am grateful that she knows she is loved by those folks and we have the photos to took at together now to remember the trip.