Early this year, the husband and his siblings made the call to move their mother from her home in Florida to a senior living facility in Houston, near to where two of the four siblings live. We all sincerely believe this is a good decision, but it was not a decision that my mother-in-law made on her own. From finding a place to everything about the move, we pretty much had to do it all, much more FOR her, than WITH her. This weekend she moved in to her new home.
This is a woman who I consider fearless. She loves travel, adventure, and trying new things. She’d take on anything that was asked of her. She left her small town Louisiana home without ever looking back. First to college and then with her new husband to Texas. With four kids in tow, she didn’t think twice about uprooting the family and heading to Florida. She taught in a small Catholic school where she had to learn the subjects as she was teaching them. She tried zip-lining, downhill skiing, and snowmobiling for the first time in her seventies. Travel to foreign countries and language barriers never phase her. She meets people and makes friends everywhere she goes.
She put on her bravest face yesterday as we welcomed her into her new home and there was only one time when I saw her resolve fade. The tears came, accompanied by those simple words that speak volumes, “I’m scared.”
Personally, I am fear averse. It is a base emotion that I never tap into willingly. I find no, none, nadda, zippo, zero entertainment value in haunted houses, scary stories, or horror movies. Fear is so often accompanied by a lack of control. So when I can, I say NO to scary things. I try to research, learn, and understand scary situations to keep fear at bay. Sometimes I replace the fear I’m feeling with anger.
I’m sure that my mother-in-law does not feel in control of this situation. Giving up her car and moving were not her decisions. Others are dictating her life style right now. And she is coming to terms with the fact that even her own, usually fearless mind is showing signs of betraying her with dementia. Hopefully time will ease her fear and she will embrace her newest life adventure. Hopefully she will learn her way and understand that she does still have a lot of control of her life. Hopefully her fear will not turn to anger and resentment. Hopefully having the guts to admit when you are truly, deeply scared is the first step to conquering fear.