It’s funny because I’m getting this bittersweet relationship that I’ve always wanted with her—but she’s not the same mommy that I knew growing up. But I’m just thankful that she’s here, and that I know that she loves me. Deep down, she knows that I’m here for her, too. I’ve asked her, “Do you know that I love you?” She said, “Yes, because of how you take care of me.” That’s all I wanted to hear my whole life.
Did your relationship shift pretty quickly because she was in this new, vulnerable situation?
Absolutely. A mentor I had at the time told me, “You’ve got to talk to her about the past, even if you don’t think she understands.” We had a really good conversation, where I said, “These things hurt me when I was a little girl, and I don’t know if I hurt you, but I’m sorry if I did.” It was a beautiful, necessary moment of forgiveness for us. I know that I couldn’t have cared for her in a healthy manner, had I not released that.
These days, she can’t really communicate the way she wants to. But I feel that deep in her heart, she forgives me, and I forgive her for anything we had going on that was toxic. We’re just living in the moment and being grateful to have each other. I’ve never been more proud to be her daughter.
We love that your Instagram captures the joyful moments you find together while you’re caregiving, too. Has your mom’s decline in language affected the types of things you like to do as mother and daughter?
I still take her out. We went to Mastro’s Steakhouse the other day for her birthday! We still have movie nights, we go to the nail salon. She gets massages from a company called Manly Handz—her arms are really tight, but every time they come, all of a sudden they can stretch out. And she loved those men, honey! I try to do things that I know she’d be doing if she was in 100% good health.
A caregiver plays many roles—driver, scheduler, shopper, and of course, home health aide. How did you prepare to take on all these responsibilities?
My best friend Latrice, the director of nursing at a hospital in Memphis, did CPR training with me twice. Friends who are nurses and doctors taught me how to change a draw sheet [a small folded sheet that can be easily removed from underneath someone or used to help lift them] and explained, “This is how you would turn her and keep her clean,” so Momma doesn’t have bed sores.
I would go to hospitals and ask to see their equipment and which type of mattress they used. I’d sit on the bed and examine everything to see how it worked. Then a friend and I would shop around L.A. to find the equivalent. Thank God P-Valley came right in time after the GoFundMe had run out because I was barely eating. I had just enough for Momma to eat, and friends were literally cooking for us and bringing food over.
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