Writing while caregiving

Four weeks ago, my 94-year-old mother came to live with us because Covid-19 restrictions at her seniors residence had become untenable. Much has been written about the difficulties for residents of nursing homes and other group-living places. In Mom’s case, the decline in her cognitive and physical health during the months from March to June was significant, as if she was disintegrating day by day.

In July, the doctor prescribed additional medication for her heart. In August, she prescribed anti-depressants. In early October when it became clear that Toronto’s case numbers were rising, we knew Mom’s residence would implement some new type of lockdown. I understand it all intellectually–the way this disease spreads so rapidly, the vulnerability of people Mom’s age, the many deaths that happened in such settings during the early months of Covid-19, the way the virus penetrates even the best line of defences.

I understand the desire to protect our most vulnerable and the struggles facing corporations that operate such facilities–often large, faceless corporations with pleasing logos and good intentions and a share price to consider. But ask yourself this: Is life worth living when all you can do for exercise is walk up and down the halls outside your suite? Is it worth living when the only socialization you receive is an hour at dinner with someone who never says anything? Or when only one designated family member can visit? Or when leaving the residence to attend your granddaughter’s wedding places you in isolation for days?

Mom – one of 12 people at her granddaughter’s wedding

My husband and I spent a day preparing our home and a day to move Mom and settle her in. Four weeks later, she still gets confused about exactly where her things are, where the trash goes, which door is the fridge and which one the freezer. But she’s happy to be with us, loves to help with food prep, table setting, dishes, ironing, and other household tasks. She tires easily, but when the sun is shining – and we’ve had some brilliantly warm weather recently – she loves to go for a walk. She reads and plays solitaire. We do jigsaw puzzles and play Scrabble and look through various memorabilia I brought along packed away in boxes that hadn’t been opened in years.

Martinis – a special treat!

Happy hour is a welcome event and Mom is content to watch the news with us and whatever shows we take in after dinner. A week ago, I introduced her to Downton Abbey and she’s happily watching an episode or two each day.

“What about my writing?” you ask.

Well, that’s pretty much nonexistent. So, if my blogging is sporadic for the next few months, chalk it up to a beautiful mother who needs my care.


M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from AmazonNookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on FacebookTwitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.