Sunday, June 28, 2009

My Mother

Where to begin? What to leave out? What tone to take? Why don't I just get my shit together and write a F-ing book? One of my most effective excuses is my mother, who is constantly at odds with at least every other person on the planet, having an only twice before documented reaction to a somewhat (very) addictive substance, wrecking her car for the 7th time this fiscal year and taking her harried insurance company to court, breaking her computer and alienating the computer fix-it people by reminding them that doctors such as herself (though she hasn't practised in 15 years because she "voluntarily relinquished" her license) went to school far longer than they and so shouldn't be talked to like she is a child regarding this machine which is clearly faulty (not plugged in). *Big Cleansing Breath*

Ham Sa. Ham Sa.

Did I mention that she still uses the word "Oriental" to describe people? And when I remind her that that is an adjective to be reserved to describe rugs only, she waves her chunky bejeweled hand and says, "Excuse me, Rebecca. I forget how sensitive you've become."

This is where I lean my head back, stare at the ceiling, take breaths worthy of labor and wonder what I did in my previous life to deserve this. AND how did SHE birth ME? She should have given birth to Paris Hilton. I should have been mothered by wolves. They would have been more forgiving.

She's moving here. Not here, here. But within the county limits. And I'm glad. Mostly. When I'm not thinking of myself. Or of ever doing anything else remotely enjoyable. Ever.

You see, my grandfather (her father) is doing his damnedess to die. Her sisters won't let him. She, with her extensive medical knowledge, thinks he should be in hospice. She doesn't have Medical POA despite the fact that she's the oldest child and has a Medical Degree. Doesn't that tell you something? If one of the 3 sisters doesn't step out of the equation, one of them is going to commit homicide.

So. My mother is coming here. And here's the problem.

She can't actually take care of herself. She has every syndrome, disease, and disorder ever outlined by medical geniuses and failures alike. She doesn't adhere to a regular schedule of sleeping, eating, dressing, medicating or paying her bills. And by "regular" I mean normal and also consistent. She needs help. Daily help. And I don't want it to be me.

The good news is that she divorced well, and has more money than most small churches. (You know. Not a First Baptist Church, but she's not a Second Antioch of Baskersville, either.) Anybody have any ideas how to talk a non-Senior Citizen into an Assisted Living facility? Or hiring live-in or 24 hour call-in care?

It's not that I don't want to help her. But I have 4 kids and I'm pretty busy with them and their joyous things. I don't want to get sucked into her insanity and joy-sucking things.

Oh, crap! I'm not saying this well. I'm sounding heartless and cold. I'm sounding like a petulant child, an ingrate, an asshole. She's my mother, after all. But she makes me crazy. She makes all of humanity crazy. She is crazy.


  1. there are times i try to imagine my parents in the position of needing my help, and i honestly can't. the thought of them being in any way less than they are now almost scares me. they have 4 kids, 11 grandkids, and are constantly doing stuff for all of us. i have no doubt that we will step up to the plate when it is our turn to be the caretakers. but wow...can't even imagine.

  2. Oh honey!

    We have all met our share of parents who are hell on wheels (well, your mom is, literally) and your life is just that... YOURS! We can be grateful and honest at the same time.

    Draw some boundaries around yourself and your family. Be firm and clear with her. You don't have to solve all your problems and hers too.

    Your peanut gallery is here to give out all the bad advice we can muster... but, for what it's worth!


  3. Oooooo, this is a tough one, but I understand how you feel.I really have no words of wisdom for this one. I doubt you will be able to suggest an assisted living place to her without offending her. But you might be able to possibly suggest an on-call service for those "just in case" moments.

  4. You are only human. You can't do it all. As much as you love your mother, it would likely kill you to become her full-time caregiver. I know that here, there are home care agencies that can send someone in for a couple of hours a day...that might be an easy transition into a full-time solution.

    My grandmother is 98 and recently developed dementia. We wanted to keep her at home for the rest of her life and we just...couldn't. She was driving my mom and my uncle (her primary caregivers) around the bend - there were chemical rivers running through the house, and all of Ontario's electricity ran through the night light in her hallway. Plus, she thought they were both addicted to drugs and kept telling everyone they needed to go to rehab. It was just too hard, so we ended up placing her in a nursing home even though physically, she was more than able to care for herself. it was one of the hardest things my mom ever did, but at the same time, my mom is much happier and healthier now. She visits my grandmother almost every day, but when it's over, she can go home and be at peace.

  5. Just say "no" and don't feel guilty about it. You, as her child, aren't actually obligated to allow her to consume you. As the others said, lay out precise boundaries, don't waver (cuz at first, she's likely going to try to negotiate), and live YOUR life first. This doesn't mean you have to exclude Mom; it does mean that you are now obligated to YOUR children.

    As soon as you accomplish all this, sit down and begin your book. You might find that it won't be as difficult as you fear. And we all can't wait!!

  6. You do not sound heartless. At all. I know. If I had to take care of my mother on a daily basis, well. It really wouldn't be good.
    I don't know what you should do. But live-in help would probably be good. Or is there some community where there are different levels of care? Like you start out independently in an apartment and yet there's always someone to "check" and "assist" and so forth? Where there are lots of lovely bridge games and activities and situations where she can drive every one else insane?
    This is not going to be easy. I know that.
    We're rooting for you.

  7. Oh. My. God. I don't even know what else to say.

    Honey, you don't sound heartless and cold. Anyone who knows what kind of shit she's put you through for the last 30 years would understand you not wanting to get caught up in her wake.

    And it's not as though you actually get anything positive out of this arrangement. Yes, you can keep a closer eye on her, but that's just adding another source of stress and exhaustion. It's not like she can be trusted to be a good babysitter or anything.

    We can talk about this later this week (!). Maybe C has some good ideas. I've got nothing but dawning horror over the idea. ;-)

  8. Assisted living sounds like it would be a great solution. If she's that well off I bet she could afford one of the really nice ones.

    You don't sound heartless to me. She sounds an awful lot like my father's mother. If I had to care for her on a regular basis I would certainly have to murder her.

  9. Who needs a shrink or a social worker when I have you guys? Thanks for your kind words and votes of confidence. You'll all be witness to this debacle. I hope we all live to tell the tale. ;)

  10. My mum and I have one rule in our relationship. There must be over 100 miles separating us.


    Good luck!