1. I love my mother.
2. I visit her three times a week and call to check in every day I don’t see her.
3. I have a “Power of Attorney” for her affairs, which means I handle any legal affairs and her finances — paying her bills, buying birdseed for the feeders outside her window, shampoo, and anything else she might need that her nursing home doesn’t provide.
4. I was the one responsible for organizing the finances and paperwork when she moved. When she ran out of money, I got her signed up for Medicaid so she could stay there — in a safe place where there is constant supervision.
I tell you these things not because I expect to be canonized or praised; I’m fully aware many other people do much more for their elderly relatives, while others have older folks in their family who are exceedingly difficult to deal with.
In general, Mom is not a challenging person, but her short-term memory has declined to the point that it can sometimes be frustrating.
Most of the time, my brother and I laugh it off. After all, it’s certainly not her fault, and she’s still fun to be around — how many 91-year-olds can you say that about?
Last night, however, I hit a wall.
I’ll spare you the details except to say she left me a voicemail demanding I do something I can’t do without endangering her Medicaid eligibility.
We’ve had a similar converstion many (many!) times with me being forced to repeatedly play the part of the spoilsport who won’t allow her to act on her generous impulses.
But yesterday, the tone of her message was different, more peremptory, and something she said made it clear she knew she was ordering me to do somthing she knew I wasn’t allowed to do.
Also, I’d just finished a shift at a grocery store on the last weekend before Christmas, six hours that registered over 9,000 steps on my Fitbit.
Since this was at the end of a week with several days Mom didn’t answer her phone when Darling Daughter or I called, and would instead call while I was at work and leave messages wondering why she hadn’t heard from me … well, I was already feeling a little frustrated.
I know this doesn’t present me in a very flattering light.
Worse, my first impulse was to call her back and tell her if she’d like to replace me with someone who would do her bidding, she was welcome to do so.
Instead I deleted the message. Then I cleared my deleted messages box and fumed all the way home.
Several hours later, I was still feeling put upon and realized if I visited, or even spoke to Mom on the phone in the near future, I was in grave danger of saying something I would regret later.
Not really the holiday spirit one might expect from a loving daughter.
The only solution I could come up with was to have a day off from “Mom duties.”
This is not something I’ve done before. Even when we travel, I call her regularly and arrange to have someone visit her a few times a week in my place.
Otherwise, I call or visit every day. And since her nursing home is a half-hour drive from my house and only allows visitation during certain hours, on a normal day, this is a factor in organizing my day. (It’s a lot closer to my brother’s house, but we chose it mostly because it was [and still is] the best one I’ve ever been in.)
Today was different. I got up, organized the many tasks on my holiday to-do list, and focused on getting ready for Christmas.
Did I feel guilty? Yes, especially when Darling Daughter texted that Grandma had called her four times in two hours. And when Big Brother texted a response to my text explaining the situation, he mentioned Mom had asked him three times in one conversation how his surgery went and called BB’s relatively new girlfriend to talk to her about him.
Add in a phone call from my uncle, who was concerned because his sister had called him several times while he was driving and then didn’t answer her phone when he called her back, and let’s just say, it wasn’t quite a Mom-free day.
As Big Brother put it, “Mom’s definitely on a roll today.”
Clearly. But just for today, I refused to take responsibility by calling or visiting. Mom is surrounded by healthcare professionals. If there’s anything seriously wrong, they’ll let me know.
Has my “day off” accomplished what I hoped? Yes. Tomorrow I will see her and once again explain why I can not do what she wants.
So, “Normal service to resume tomorrow,” with me in a much better frame of mind.
As a complete non-sequitur (and apologies in advance to my friend Kate) here’s a picture of some rum balls I made today.
And just to amuse you, here’s a picture of a nut saved for a future snack by one of the squirrels in our yard. You know, just in case s/he is running around the yard and gets the munchies. They do this frequently, and every time I come across one of their stashed nuts, I can’t help but laugh.
4 thoughts on “Normal Service to Resume Tomorrow”
You definitely need to step away when it gets like that. Self preservation.
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Given the day you’ve had, forgiven! I prescribe a half pound of those rum balls, consumed in one sitting, and washed down with a glass of whatever you fancy. I understand your pain. Before he became fully bedridden at 95, Pa was utterly cranky and confused and combative. I didn’t have to deal with it in person, being half the world away, but I lent a listening ear to both my immediate siblings who did. And as if to compensate, the moment he was no longer able to shuffle at speed, he became sweet-tempered, compliant and grateful. I can’t promise this for you, but it just shows, it IS possible.
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Thanks, Flo. I know it’s not her fault she forgets, but somehow it’s still gets frustrating at times.
The thing is Mom is normally really fun to be around. It’s just the repetition that is frustrating, but that phone message was different, out of character even, and coming on the heels of a very busy day, well, if I spoke with her I knew my reaction would not be what was needed.