I don't think my mother can relax; it's physically impossible for her. The best she can do is temporarily vacate, typically escaping into a fantasy novel, often with a bowl of ice cream. She is the hardest working person I've ever met.
And I'd like if she didn't have to continue scraping and finangling and working sixty hour weeks the rest of her life to take care of her children, which is what she has done for as long as I can remember. She has due dates and interest rates and fine print memorized, filed away neatly in some corner of her extremely impressive brain. I don't know how she does it, because I suspect those numbers are taking up the same spaces that, in my life, hold the stillness of a winter morning, the hot desert under my toes. What makes my life marginally bearable, she never notices, too busy doing work and getting things done and constantly talking and moving from place to place in a flurry of productivity.
But she does notice me. So she sat me down and asked what was wrong, and when I could stop crying enough to talk I explained that life was overwhelm. And I made my specifically chosen request, (because I'm too old now to ask her to wave a magic wand and make everything better), to help pay for physical therapy.
This was my compromise: make it so it doesn't hurt to walk, and I'll find a way to deal with everything else. Make it so if I get drunk and do ballet one night in my kitchen, I will not pay for it with pain all of the following week. Make it so I can get out of the car and pass through the mountains under open sky, and I will find a way to deal with skeezy editors and invisible bosses and sleep deprivation and child abuse and radon.
She said, "yes. This is not a hard problem. Your father being still physically there, but mentally gone, is a hard problem. This--well, go until you are better. Pay for it as much as you can yourself. Find out if you can get a sliding scale or something. But go until you get better."
"How?" Because it certainly looks like a hard problem to me, and I know enough about my parents finances to know it isn't there.
But this is what my mother does. She gives up herself to make impossible things happen. She responds with perfect calm to someone else's storm.