My mom is dying.
She has been since she moved to the city in which I live, about 4 years ago, but now she’s recently been put on hospice care. I’ve had to deal, and am still dealing, with how I feel about all of this.
This isn’t so much a question, as an attempt to put my thoughts and emotions into some kind of an understandable order. Venting, if nothing else. So bear with me.
My mom has never been a kind person. She’s always had this bitter child inside her, and her self-shame colored her entire world, and thus – mine. She was and is ashamed of me and my choices, although I have a good life, if not a moneyed one. I married a biker (more of a teddy bear than a bad boy lol) and his cars and trucks tend to litter the yard. So, of course I’m trailer trash, and Mom is reluctant to admit her relationship with me.
My children are also a source of shame to her, as my daughter is just now working her way out of an abusive relationship, and my son has yet to graduate at age 19. My step-son and family have just moved in with me from across the country, and of course, they have little money. That, too, is a shameful thing.
To me, all of these things are proof that we have a wonderful, loving, supportive family who are all doing their best to learn and grow. They all help me with my husband’s care, and Mom has shoved everyone but me away. She has no one.
So now she’s waiting to die. I had her placed in an NH about two years ago, since I couldn’t care for her and my own family. Guess who I chose? And that shamed her, too. The angry child in me who tried for so long and so hard to please Mommy is relieved she is going soon. This, I believe, does not make me a bad person. It only means I understand my own feelings. There is another side of me that says, “but she’s my MOM!” and weeps uncontrollably. I believe the tears are more for what should have been rather than what was.
But then, Mom is also not that bad off yet. She has confusion issues, and refuses to use the call lights or leave the buzzers on in her room. She’s fallen many times in the last few months, and has cracked her tailbone, and bumped her head a few times. Mostly, she comes out of it uninjured, and refuses to acknowledge her need for help – even accusing the staff of tricking her and making her crazy. A year ago, she was full of praise for the staff, so I know this is a product of her illnesses.
She has COPD, congestive heart failure, and is a brittle diabetic who spend much of her adult life refusing to take her blood sugar readings and barely doing anything about insulin. Being a diabetic shames her, I believe, as if it was some kind of failing on her part instead of a disease that can be managed. She stopped smoking and drinking years ago, but her behavior didn’t change much. She has no friends, and my little brother never bothers to come and see her, let alone help with her care.
I am all she has, and I try to see her realistically as a failed, bitter old woman who is ashamed of her life. She doesn’t make me so angry anymore – only intensely saddened. But still, I must go see her again today, and my heart races. I must take my anti-anxiety meds, gird my loins, and I go in as if prepared to do battle. For this feeling, I do have shame. I should be the good daughter – patient, kind, and loving in spite of her ill humor. I have my children, my husband, and my grandchildren for support and love. She has no one.
I am the lucky one. And that, alone, should make me kind to her. Instead, I am an angry, bitter child who wants Mama to love her, and who always fails to make Mama proud.