“They break their hip and then they die.” This is the mantra of fear that runs through my head each time I walk with my 84 year-old mother. My doctor friends tell me that there are scientific studies to back up my neurosis, which reassures me, as I am truly neurotic about older folks walking on any ground that is less than perfect and flat.
I know, my mother walks by herself often and with success, as her recent visit demonstrates. But still, walking with my mother is trying for the daughter who loves her. My 80 year-old friend agreed when I insisted on walking her to her car recently as she did not have her flashlight with her. I was glad then, as I am every time I walk with my mother and when I wear a sleeveless dress, that I work out with heavy weights when focusing on my biceps and triceps.
“They break their hip and then they die.” Fear and neurosis is a broken record in my head – it does put a bit of stress on every stroll.
So, recently, when when my mother and I walked up a hill to fetch my son from kindergarten I offered her my arm as assistance. Yes, I gripped her elbow as we passed the parking stop upon which she tripped on our walk up this hill, breaking only a metatarsal in her left foot thanks to my catching her under her arm, a rare clutch of her person that she allowed. After we passed this point, my hold loosened as my mother chose the stair rail instead of me for the steps upward. Another hurdle passed.
As we again faced a step-less, flat path with only a couple of tripping hazards, I once again, gently this time, put her arm through mine. By the time we were half way up the hill our clasp had loosened to the point of separation – a repeat of my childhood. For my mother and I are, and always will be, intimate at arm’s length no matter where we walk together.