Mom told me a story today. When she and Bob lived in Oregon they decided to take a trip in their camper. They hadn't used it in awhile, so mom went out to clean it.
"I opened a drawer and a mother mouse was giving birth," she said.
"I panicked. I pulled the drawer out and mice went everywhere...and then they died."
She laughed at the thought and then said, "I don't know why I didn't just let her finish giving birth."
Then what, I thought. Kill them?
I told her about the time I trapped two mice, one big and one small, in a paper bag under the kitchen sink.
The recipe I used for trapping mice humanely: I placed just enough garbage in the bottom of a large grocery bag to entice them in.
Once they were in the bag they were unable to climb out.
I folded the top of the bag closed and transported them to the neighbor's barn.
"I'm sure they appreciated that," mom said.
She meant the barn owners, not the mice.
But I was thinking that the mice appreciated it.
She was clear and bright today, asking me about the conference, about her bank overdrafts (I messed up on that one), about the deposit I needed to make. She always thanks me now when I come and take care of things for her. For years she would forget, so resentful I think of needing the care, on the edge of dependency but not wanting to go there. Even now though she is not entirely dependent, still, at 101, getting to the bathroom by herself, brushing her teeth, putting on her makeup. The only place she needs help is with dressing, keeping the apartment clean, meals, hair and nails.
I'm reading Gail Sheehy's book, "Passages in Caregiving: From chaos to confidence." An informative read. Not the book I will write. It is about her care-taking her husband, Clay, through 17 years of cancer. It's a different journey, but she also recounts the journeys of others who were caretakers for spouses and parents.