I had a wonderful visit with my Mom today, and it made me feel grateful.
While we were growing up my Mom was a really great Mom - attentive, supportive and loving. One of her sayings when we were struggling with something was, "Well, I can't make you happy", with the emphasis on the I. What she meant was that although she could provide a lot of things, our happiness was our own responsibility and not something she could provide no matter how much she might want to. Because of this, and many other loving but practical attitudes, we six children are independent, responsible adults who do pretty well in life. With great boundaries. And we all LOVE our mom and each other.
Now Mom is struggling. Her beloved husband (our wonderful Dad), who really was the focus of her life, died 3 years ago. She needed over a year to come out of her grief (not surprising). She was starting to recreate a life for herself alone, when dementia started and got worse rapidly. So now she is in AL, lonely and missing my Dad, having to move from her cherished home, reliant on others. She sort of understands why she is there. We kids pay a lot of attention to her with visits and phone calls.
But she is unhappy. She is lonely because she never leaves her apartment except for meals, and depends on us kids for most of her social interactions. For a while she lived with two of my siblings, and she was unhappy there too. It is hard for us kids to see her struggling, but we really can't fix the causes of her unhappiness. She is unhappy, because her brain and body aren't working, and we can't fix that.
It helps so much that Mom gave us the gift of knowing that we can't make her happy, and are not responsible for making her happy. We are very sad that life isn't what she wants it to be, but do not feel guilty. Well, most of the time at least.