Being sick is not a fun at all. I know, because I was a sick girl when I was young. Being sick when you are 78 years old is even harder.
I wrote this series of posts about my mom, who is 78 years old, and after many years of battling sickness, was in enormous pain and very depressed, until she came for a 5-week healing visit in Australia. Our house was not a retreat in any way, but I came up with a plan, using all the techniques I ever used with my clients, and was determined to use them on the person who is very dear to me – my mother, who was just waiting for her life to end.
When I was studying special education, we used to say that if you hang around kids, it keeps you young. I always believed it was true. Kids are born clean and pure and their energy is only corrupted by the presences of the anxious, angry, frustrated and sad people in their life.
Only later on, I discovered that this is actually done through mirroring. When we hang around other people, we sense what they are feeling and our mind “lights up” in the same way they do.
Babies laugh a lot and trust fully. They love physical touch, enjoy every second and, although they can’t do many things, it never stops them from trying again, and again, and again. There is a lot we can learn from babies.
My mom always loved babies. I first discovered this when my eldest daughter, Eden, was born. I was in the hospital for 10 days and my mom offered to come and stay with us for a week after I got out and help me.
I remember how I freaked out. I never had anything with my mom. We never talked, and I wasn’t sure what I would do with her. I thought it would be awkward, but I needed help, because I had an infection. I had to go to the hospital every day for a treatment and needed someone to take care of Eden.
Let me tell you, that week was the surprise of my life. My mom talked to Eden for hours. She sang to her, she massaged her, she rocked her, she held her with such confidence, she turned her upside down and she squeezed her. Under her care, Eden was the happiest and most comfortable baby on earth.
The first night we came home, she slept for 7 hours, so we woke up worried. For all we knew, babies woke up often and had to feed every 3-4 hours.
My mom was an amazing surprise. She cooked for me, squeezed fresh orange juice and told me to eat, drink, sleep and feed Eden, so that’s what I did! She even told me stories about her and about me and my baby years that I had never heard.
I think it was the best week I ever spent with my mother. In that week, I learned how much my mom loved me and that just how amazing she was with babies.
When our son, Tsoof, was born in California, my parents came to be with us when he was 10 days old (same as Eden, only this time they flew from the other side of the world to be with us). My mom was as amazing then as she was 7 years before.
When my granddaughter, Ayla (the gorgeous baby in the photos) was born, there were talks about them coming to Australia and we all thought it would be great for her.
So this time, when we planned my parents’ visit, Eden said she would spend most of the days with us to make sure my mother enjoyed her time with all her grandchildren and with Ayla. Once or twice, when I had things to do, which I could not change, Eden took my parents and they spent some time together. The photo below is of my parents with Eden and Ayla. We took this photo on the first week of my parents’ visit. You can see that my mom looks pale and weak.
During the first two weeks, my mom was very happy to see Ayla and be around her, but she could not lift her and that made her very frustrated. We went together to see the Toowoomba flower festival and my mom, who loves flowers very much, could not walk a lot. She looked for a chair to sit every 5 minutes.
Since Ayla was with us and we were slow anyway, this was OK. The stops to breastfeed Ayla or change her diaper made it easier for my mom, but she was still in pain. Eden is a very patient person and most of our time during the visit, we spent with her and Ayla.
It really helped that Ayla was (and still is) a very easy, happy baby. For some reason, she was afraid of men and liked women, so that worked in favor of my mom. My mom could play with her and she smiled and laughed.
Ayla made my mom smile. It was still a smile with pain, but every tiny thing she did made my mom happy, even for a short time. When she stopped taking the Lyrica, she didn’t even pay attention to Ayla for couple of days, but then again, when she finished her (extremely short) withdrawal, she smiled at her again. The same thing happened when she lowered the patch dosage from 75mg to 50mg, but then after 2-3 days of staying in bed a lot, she recovered and smiled at Ayla when Ayla smiled at her.
When we played “3 good things that happened to me today” for the first 3 weeks, my mom only joined in on the day Ayla was around by saying, “Seeing Ayla was the best thing that happened to me today”. If Ayla was not with us that day, she said nothing at all.
3 weeks later, she started saying other things, like “Looking at my legs and seeing them skinny, like I haven’t seen for a long time”, “The lamb we had for dinner today”, “Holding Ayla”, “Making Ayla laugh”, “Going to the restaurant with Eden and Sandy” (her husband), “Going to sauna”, Sleeping without sweating”, Sitting in the sun” and “Being able to walk for 2 hours”.
On the chart she filled out every day, there were improvements in all areas, with the consistent theme “Ayla makes me happy”.
We have the ability to influence others by the way we think. Fear, anxiety and anger clutter the thinking while happiness, joy and excitement can heal. This is true about us and about those around us.
My mom hardly left her house. As I said, the only reason for her to leave home was to go to the doctor and in the last years, she avoided the walk and my dad drove her there. She even stopped driving herself.
If it is true that being around happy, joyful people can heal, the only person she was with was my dad and even he could not spend all his days with her. So, he went to his volunteer work to be with happy, nice, respectful and kind people, because he could not handle her energy.
It is very helpful for sick people (in body and mind) to be around children, and the younger they are, the faster their healing is. Young children and babies smile a lot and laugh a lot and their laughter is so cute and adorable, it feels contagious.
Every time Ayla entered the room, my mom’s body language changed. Even for a short time, her body smiled with joy. When Ayla laughed out loud, it was irresistible. If you want to know how that feels, just watch videos of laughing babies.
About eight years ago, my nephews were born (my sisters had them within a day of each other) and my mom was already feeling down and “broken”. She was very happy for my sisters, but could not help much, due to her physical health. I remember her being unable to move and the second my baby nephews came, she came to life. Suddenly, she could bend down and sit on the floor with them.
It was as if she forgot the pain and her limited motion during their visit. I think it was the same with Ayla. My mom was so happy to see Ayla that while Ayla was around, she didn’t talk about her pain that much.
Next week, I will tell you about the happy ending and the last two weeks of my parents visit, when my mother said that, for first time in many years, she feels … healthy.
See you next week,
This post is part of the series From Sickness to Health:
- From Sickness to Health: The Story of Our Life
- From Sickness to Health: Working Together on a Shared Goal
- From Sickness to Health: Doctors are Not Gods
- From Sickness to Health: Doubt Before Healing
- From Sickness to Health: The Pharmacist
- From Sickness to Health: John the Wizard
- From Sickness to Health: New Diet and The Drug Dealer
- From Sickness to Health: Miserable Discount
- From Sickness to Health: The Placebo Effect
- From Sickness to Health: Baby Ayla
- From Sickness to Health: Happy Ending