Does your mother need you more than you know? 51



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If I were to pick up the phone right now and ask my mother, “How are you doing?” she’d say brightly, “I’m fine. Good! I can’t complain!”

It makes it so much easier to her voice – animated and happy to have heard from me. I have to confess, sometimes that’s enough for me. The guilt retreats a little, the fact I haven’t called in for a few days loses its urgency.

But then I saw this film. It’s called Junk Mail and shows the small life of a 98-year-old woman who is still living independently like my mum, who will one day be the same age as Mary in the film.

Mary loves the senior centre she attends every day. When she is dropped back home after a morning there, she wishes the day and night away so she can get back there.

How wonderful!

But what this film does is show the hours in between. The hours Mary spends in her home, waiting for the next morning to come.

And do you know what she does to fill those hours? She collects the junk mail that comes through her door, gathers in on her lap, then sits on the couch ripping the junk mail to shreds. Then she puts it in the bin.

Mary can’t see; she can’t hear. “But I have to do something!” she says. “What else am I going to do?”

The small, frail woman in the video could be my own mother in a decade or so. She is fiercely independent and truly grateful for what she has in life, just like my mum. I won’t spoil the short film for you, but Mary’s response to the small gesture of kindness she receives is exactly how I would imagine my mother responding if she were in the same situation.

Not that she will be. Seeing this image of a brave, strong woman ripping up junk mail in her lounge to keep herself from going mad with loneliness has galvanised me into action. There will never be a time I’m “too busy” for my mum. I will never rush to get off the phone and onto the next thing on my to do list. And I will visit her whenever possible – and keeping an eye out for stacks of junk mail.

Watch the short film here then phone your parent, friend or anyone else you know who could do with a visit from someone who loves them.

Do you know someone who could do with more human interaction? Are you feeling lonely? Let’s reach out to those who need us and remember, we all hope to be an active 98-year-old one day. 

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. she probably did, but I was working and looking after my grandkids a lot, and I know now I missed a lot of things I wanted to talk to her about. I also lived 4 hrs away. I think of her now that I am far away from my family, and wonder if they will make more calls.

  2. So sad and so real it’s the sad truth that we all in older age do honestly become invisible to those around us when our use by date has expired and we’re no longer able to contribute to everyday happenings.

  3. it is natural to help the young ones but no one realizes the older people also need to be included and feel loved as well

  4. Look after your health both mental and physical now, so that you will remain active in later years, take interest in everything, never stop learning.

  5. My mum needed all of us. She was overseas under the care of my good brother. 28 yrs in Australia , I would called her every week until we had Skype 6 yrs ago, then I called her every 2nd day . Seeing her without kissing and hugging her was killing me. So frail /lonely and sad. My brother took good care of her, prepared everything and then went to work from midday to 7 pm. It was long hours of loneliness/fears and sadness until my brother came back from work . She couldn’t picked up the phone when we called as she thought in her mind that strangers keep on calling her. She came to visit me by herself 26 yrs ago and I went 3 times to see her n took care of her which was not enough for me.
    I went back home a year ago for only a week to see my dying brother from cancer ( another brother), it was the 27/2/14.
    I stayed with mum n took care of her as much as I could, ignoring that she was going to die 6 months after my brother passed ( she passed just for my 60th birthday-(04/09/2014)

    Sadly and unfortunately, I couldn’t afford to attend to her funeral due to my hubby being very sick in the hospital here in Australia.
    Thx to technology, I was present via Skype for her funeral. 2 months after, my hubby lost her mum too( overseas-01/11/2014) but could not attend.
    If you are hours away from your frail parents, then by no means, please go and visit them as often as you can before it’s too late . And thx again to techno, I check on my lonely brother everyday via Fcbk, face-time n Skype . YES, she needed me and other children the same as we all need our children AND YES I wish I could have done more. And I pray that my children will be their for me when I will be in the same situation but that will be also god’s will.

  6. I’m only 67 ..and I have one of my children who still care’s ….he wrang and said Dad can I come home for a while …Some of you will have an Idea of how I felt … I live alone …Ive spent the last three Christmas’s Alone and without any calls Except from this Son ………So I’m the Happiest Parent ,now that his son has hit a rough patch LOL my door is always open to my family questions asked …but, they never come ….Loneliness is just another form of Cancer I believe ……

    3 REPLY
    • Cliff if there is a local Seniors Centre take yourself along ( the first step is the hardest) and ask if there is anything you can do to help, and join in you will find there is plenty of other people like you.

    • there are too many people like me …know doubt they feel like a square peg in a round hole as I do….it is not the fear of rejection …it’s just that we are Stoic …and it is very hard to remove that ” Barrier ” ….hence we invariable suffer in Silence ..!!

    • they do not wish to know and yet I call every year …and get sent to message bank .there are issues no doubt ..!!

  7. I really miss speaking to my Mum on the phone she was in a retirement village and she would come up with some fabulous stories, did not matter how true or fanciful they were, it entertained us both. Resting easy now my dear.

  8. Mother living interstate unwell at 93…recovered but gave up driving (phew)…rang her daily to check…at 97 after heart attack she went into nursing home…rang daily again…nursrs interpreted she couldn’t hear….refused to wear het aides of 40 yrs….we wrote letters n caught plane to visit regularly….mum demanded a personal phone….given that but she sleeps thru the rings….. not easy getting old….

  9. Multiply this thousands of times! It’s a huge problem. We seem to become redundant when we are too frail and can no longer be the givers or nurturers.Some are lucky and have very caring families,but others just live in isolation,and those are the many society is neglecting. When families don’t even bother to visit their loved ones for months on end and can’t even ring,we have gone sadly wrong. You can’t make your children care,it has to come from their hearts,and surely they still have one.i think there should be wider exposure given to this problem and we should all start to try and find solutions. Surely we can’t just sit back and allow this to happen.

    1 REPLY
    • You are so right Catharines Keevill, I worked in age care, it happened too often with relatives not visiting their parents. It’s heart broken and very sad. The worse part of it is to see that there’s actually some nurses who don’t give a damn about their resident in nursing homes. so many people don’t cares. Make me wander if the young ones will ever work as a nurse in the near future and if not? Who the hell is going to take care of the elderly who doesn’t have anyone to care for them ??!!!!

  10. Loneliness is like a cancer! Yes I agree as my 3 children don’t
    Know how to help me even when I say it in plain English. It’s very
    Hurtful and demeaning to my Mentallity. So I stay strong but
    I am on my own and it doesn’t sit well at all.

    1 REPLY

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