I was awakened by mom one morning. She came to my room with her handbag in one hand and her slippers in the other. I asked her where she was going, and she told me that she wanted to rush home to cook for her children.
I reminded her that my brothers and sisters were all in their late 40s and early 50s so there was no need for her to take care of them. She looked at me for a moment and said: “But I still have to go home and cook and pack the house”.
Sometimes I am Jie (big sister) to my mom and other times I am her mommy. I am very used to this reversal of roles.
Whenever she is difficult or unreasonable to the filipina caregiver I distract her with projects. Mom can sit still for a long time sorting out different colour beans into different containers, unpicking threads from garments, and colouring from templates.
Since exercise is good for the elderly, she walks non-stop in the house for 15 minutes twice a day. After walking for 5 minutes we would ask her the number of steps she counted and she would give a number in the hundreds. After another 5 mins when we ask her again the number would be decreased as we had expected and we would all just say, “Very good!”
Mom is happiest when we give her a manicure and pedicure, mask her face, or go to the hairdresser. Like a child, mom loves to be hugged and showered with attention and this is what I am telling all my children and siblings to do before time runs out, before we forget.