Trading Places With Mom

Naomi Hesterman By RuthAnn Hogue/ Whiptail Publishing

Mom is quietly reading in her room. She’s lived in there since late September in what she now refers to as her apartment.

Never mind that it’s one of three bedrooms in my house. To her, it’s more comfortable to confine herself to the east wing of our home, leaving the heart of the home and the west wing to me. And why not? She has a kitchenette of sorts, a comfortable recliner where she can watch her favorite DVDs and a large boom box, probably left over from the early 1990s, so she can play CD recordings of her late husband crooning love songs or recordings of one of his live or radio performances.

With a restroom down the hall, and a doggie gate creating a barrier between the west hallway and the main living areas, it gives her a feeling of separation. Of independence. Of not needing to rely on her adult daughter in her golden years.

Granted, there is no doorbell. But the handcrafted wood sign, which hung for years over a front porch on West Orange Drive announcing to the world that those who passed under were about to enter the “Hesterman’s” home, now hangs in the hall above he entrance to what was once the bedroom of Michael, my youngest son. A closet full of handmade dresses, an iron, well-worn shoes and ladies slippers have replaced wheels, bearings, wax and a large collection of skater-themed T-shirts. A few pairs of popular branded skinny jeans that seemed to whisper memories of years spent perfecting jumps, grinding and ollies recently found a new home at Buffalo Exchange. By now, they are probably in the closets of another generation of skaters, ready for new tricks and adventures.

Meanwhile, a few steps down the hall, my mother, Naomi, now enjoys a private bathroom–complete with two sinks and a bathtub outfitted with special hand rails and a hand-held shower head on a hose she can reach from her chair. Baby powder, pain relievers and muscle relaxers have replaced Michael’s drawers full of Axe products and men’s razors.

It’s odd trading the familiar sight of well-worn skate shoes for a bookcase filled with combination of knick knacks and well-worn hard cover books. An indigo blue velvet valance Mom designed and sewed herself more than 40 years ago with matching baby blue sheer panels now covers the majority of white wooden blinds, however, and it’s clear that this is no longer the room of a growing young man.

A quick glance between the door frame and Mom’s signature blue bookcase, however, reveals that the new occupant owns a cane. It’s not really hers. It belonged to her late husband, Lenny. Until recently, she’d avoided even talk of using any form of assistance walking beyond a helping hand or a rolling cart at the store. Now, at her request, it stands at her door–ready and waiting–for a time when it might come in handy.

For someone who’s always loved to go on long walks, it seems appropriate that she be prepared. Just in case. For now, when attempting to walk on a grade or step down from a curb she prefers to reach out to put her hand in mine.

Oddly enough, it seems appropriate. I’m sure there was once a time when her strong hands steadied my uncertain steps. I guess that’s why life is referred to as circular. I just hadn’t anticipated becoming a caretaker again so soon after my youngest child left home for college. My Mom certainly hadn’t anticipated needing my help so soon, either. We’re both strong willed and fiercely independent. Maybe being on our own isn’t what God intends for either of us.

At least not today.

So, as Mom continues to read a few feet, a hallway and a closed door away, I am online blogging. Earlier today I hung some family portraits in her room along with a couple of wind chimes. We also reorganized her electrical outlet usage making it possible to place both of her phones in the same room. One is now within reach of her recliner; the other is within reach of her bed. This should make it easier for her to reach out to the outside world. That, and her stash of envelopes and forever stamps, that is. My Mom is among a dying generation of folks with snail mail pen pals. Good for her. And for those whose mailboxes she fills with stories and tales of what’s new in her life.

As for me, it’s time to get back to working on business projects. Yes, I’m trying to re-launch a business while entering a new era in life. In a way, this is a time of new beginnings for each of us–in more ways than one for both my Mom and me.

Until next time…

RuthAnn Hogue is the owner and founder of Whiptail Publishing’s and She is an award-winning author and journalist with an Internet Marketing Master of Science and a B.A. in Journalism/Political Science.

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