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Daughter's love grows as she cares for elderly mom
Lurene Wilkinson and her daughter, Heidi Lords, smile for a picture at Wilkinson's 99th birthday party. Their relationship has had a reversal of sorts as Lords takes care of her now 100-year-old mother. - photo by Ginny Romney
Can you try eating some of your yummy eggs? They have cheese in them.

The words, which could be coming from the parent of a 3-year-old, are being said by my great-aunt Heidi Lords to her 100-year-old mother and my great-grandmother, Lurene Wilkinson, who I call "Mama Rene."

After my great-grandfather, Harold Wilkinson, or "Papa Harold" as I called him, died in 2000, Aunt Heidi and her family sold their house and moved in with Mama Rene.

Before Papa Harold died, Aunt Heidi reassured him, Dont worry Ill take care of mom.

Ive taken that very seriously, she said. I just want to make sure I have no regrets and that Dads proud of me.

Mama Rene set the example when she sweetly took care of her husband at home, using unfathomable strength.

She was 86 when he died thats not a young chicken, Aunt Heidi said. But she took care of him. Anything I do is really learned from example.

Mama Rene has always been an independent woman. (She was driving until 6 years ago.) But Aunt Heidi has gradually had to increase her care.

Through the years, its just been tiny bits at a time thats whats made it easier, she said. I didnt just jump into full-fledged care for her.

This sweet experience of flipping roles has deepened her love for her mother, Aunt Heidi said.

I worry about things with her that I did with my children: Is her health good? Does she need to go to the doctor? You know, things that you didnt worry about your parents because they always took care of themselves."

At the same time, Mama Rene cant help but try to nurture as she has always done. Whenever Aunt Heidi gives her food, she tries to give it back to Aunt Heidi to make sure shes fed.

You think that the roles are reversed and youre serving her, but in her sweet little way, she wants to serve you back, even though there isnt anything she can really do, she said.

Aunt Heidi reminds Mama Rene to eat her lunch and reassures her that she will eat something later. Later, she checks on her mom using a monitor, and shes fast asleep, eggs still untouched.

I tuck her in at night and I just look at her face and think, I just love you so much and I hope youre here in the morning, because you never know, she said.