So, my sister suffers from a disability and has lived with Mom basically her entire life. Mom has spent a substantial amount of her life energy as a caregiver to my sister, worrying about her and loving her through some serious ups and downs.
When Mom was hospitalized a few months ago– having completely passed out– when she came to in the middle of the night, she asked the nurse to call home to check on my sister. When I visited and understood her mental state later that day, I was shocked that she had been able to articulate that need to the nurse.
No matter how many other things Mom may be forgetting, she remembers to care for my sister. She asks how she is doing. She looks in on her. Mom reminds me to be gentle to Sis and how much harder life is for her. It amazes me how solid this relationship remains even as Mom forgets all else. To Sis, Mom almost consistently demonstrates compassion and concern. Today she stopped Sis to ask if she was feeling downtrodden, a question I certainly am never asked. The amount she can do may be more limited, but Mom always remembers to try.
These days of course my sister cares for Mom more than vice versa which has been a beautiful reversal. But Mom will never see it that way.
I can only conclude that love is a deep habit. My mother’s instinct to protect and shelter her younger daughter comes from her deepest feelings. It remains strong when so many other memories and thoughts fade away. I have watched as the circle of people Mom remembers tightens from the many she used to entertain and correspond with a few years ago to just remembering those closest few today.
One day the loving concern for Sis will also fade. But not without a valiant fight from Mom to keep caring as she knows only a mother can.