The new "norm" and how to deal with it.

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Many of you remember me--86 yo mother living at brother's, 3 other sibs totally off board with mother's care--mother "kicked me out of her life" last Dec. b/c she thought I had torpedoed her choice to have elective hip replacement surgery---now you're all caught up.

Time heals all wounds, I guess. I did in fact keep away from mother's for the last almost 6 months. Yesterday, after my massage was cancelled (dang) I felt the impression that I needed to stop by an see her and planned to spend 10 minutes, by the clock with her. Not do anything to help, just say hi and test the waters and leave.

She greeted me at the door in a panic! "Oh, I am SO glad you're here! I have been praying all day for you to come." (Ok, yes, she could have CALLED me, but as I have said before, she cannot remember my phone # (after 37 years of having the same one!)) so I just asked what the problem was. She needed glucose test strips!! Now!! She was in an absolute panic. So I said, "OK, we can do that. Get some shoes on and let's run my groceries home and then we'll go to the pharmacy".

She came with me, and commented on how lovely my front yard is. She asked how long had I had the patio in the front? and I said, "Oh, well, more than 10 years"....then I said, "Hey, can you walk to backyard?" She was hesitant to have to walk 40 feet, but she did and was shocked by how changed it was---well, 10+ years since she'd seen that. She did actually say "This is so lovely--I can tell you really put a lot of love in this yard". OMGosh--a compliment from mother!?

But how SAD that she lives a little over a mile away and has not been to my house since Father's Day 13 years ago. She's welcome any time, but won't come.

We got the test strips (and hugged every single person in the dang store on the way.....she NEVER hugs any of us, it's funny). Got her back home, settled in and I couldn't help but check out the state of her place. Nobody has cleaned since the last time I did it after Thanksgiving. It's dusty, grimy and gloomy. I asked who was cleaning for her and she said "Oh, I am kind of just ignoring it all. It's too much. "E" waters my plants." Uh, no, she doesn't, they are all completely dead.

Even though I had sworn to myself I was NOT going to go back to cleaning and fussing her---I am brought to my knees with sadness at her obvious loneliness and the very evident decline that has come about over the past 6 months.

No, I am not her favorite person, but I had to forgive her and I have. I asked "Mom, will you please let me come clean the apartment for you? The dust is so thick and that is not good for your lungs (she has birds, so also a lot of bird feathers and dander)...she hesitated and said in a little voice "are you going to throw a lot of stuff away?" I said, "Of course, the garbage and the dead plants--but what if I get "T" (older sis) to come with me. Would you feel better?" She said that would "probably" be ok.

I am feeling pretty calm about this. I do not expect my brother's family to carry the burden. Mother won't pay someone to clean. Her place is filthy--smelly and needs a good airing. I emailed sis and I am sure she'll come and help one day when mother is out.

I guess the gist of this overly long post is this takeaway--yeah, she's not really going to change towards me and that's got to be OK. I can't step out of her life and not be like the other sibs--conscience won't allow it and I do care about her.
Having not seen her for almost 6 months--then seeing how much worse she is now--barely able to walk and will likely be wheelchair bound very soon--I need to do the right thing.

Not saying this is right for everyone with difficult aging parents, but it's right for me for now.


For caregivers, this can be a major step, another opening to the relationship, and cause for celebration. We in these situations learn to celebrate the small steps and opportunities.

I can sense the relief and warmth in your post. I'm glad that this happened for the both of you.
Hey Midkid - it's funny isn't it? I had a hysterectomy two weeks ago. My mom knew for a long time that I needed one but that I had been putting it off to deal with all her crisis', finding help with my son - then my brother needed surgery for prostate I finally get things organized and everyone squared away and set a date. I spent several weeks stock piling in her closet, all the supplies my mom would need while I am in the "no driving" phase of my recovery. Mom didn't say much about any of it. So in the past two weeks I've received a couple of phone calls from people who see my mom - saying mom is worried about me, wants to see me but doesn't want to pressure me into visiting until I feel up to it. What? Who is that woman and where is my mother? Guess your situation and mine fall into the "they don't appreciate you until your gone" catagory. At least now we know that they actually do care and miss us when we're gone. Perhaps the "better late than never" catagory as well?
I started to post a while ago and got distracted, but I'll try again.

I feel sad for your mom, that her own inability to let anything good into her life has isolated her from you and the rest of the family. I'm sorry that she couldn't accept the loving things you have tried to do for her, and that she hasn't been to your home in 13 years. I think it is great that you were able to connect with her now, here's hoping that you can continue to find a way to be a part of her life in a way that leaves you feeling useful and appreciated, not used.
Thanks for the comments. The situation between us was so bad around Christmas, I really thought I had come to the end of my ability to deal with her.

Seeing her with "fresh eyes" yesterday, I see a sad, lonely, depressed old lady who has *chosen* this life. She wants visitors, but won't call anyone. I won't try to facilitate visits or any activities. I remember even when our kids were young and we would TRY to go visit my folks on Sundays or have family outings--they wouldn't even turn off the TV long enough to have a conversation. They never came to any of the grandkids' activities or performances. Birthdays are remembered with a card--the ggkids don't even know who she is.

She asked me how I got to have such a great relationship with ALL my kids and g-kids. I told her it takes hard work, determination and the push to DO things. Kids don't just automatically adore you because you are grandma. If you don't actively DO things with them, or make an effort, you end up like mother, alone and lonely. (And I have to fly to Houston for one family and to Seattle for another. And I do, at least 3 times a year.)

So sad, really. She is really sliding quickly into the "end". I hope she doesn't continue to dwell on regrets, but I can't change anything, except the state of her living conditions and my own mindset.
Mom and I were talking about my sibling that went awol over 5 yrs. ago never to surface again. We do not know a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g about her, and she used to live with mom.
My mom's mom used to tell one of mom's sisters: Look "G", you have managed to alienate everyone away from you, that I am telling you now, when you are old, decrepit, alone, and need a glass of water, there is no one that will give it to you. You need people, need us, need your siblings (and my aunt "G" would scoff and laugh about what grandma said).
My sister, who just "UPPED and LEFT", and is still awol is probably in that same predicament as my aunt.
Why am I saying all this?
I think of "the day" when/if/perhaps/she/could/maybe/surface, and want to re-connect with mom, or whatever..............I just cannot fathom the idea of even allowing her to try and rattle my mom's now settled down "world" into another upheaval emotionally.
Some would say: Forgive and forget................
Some would say: ???? she dumped your mom and now she wants to bond???
Some would say: Man, if that ever happens, just hang up on her (she lives in a different country.......................i think....................???

I just depends on so much background history.
Some things can be forgiven.........................Some things...........I don't think so.
Even when you are going to be gone a "few days" leave food and water for your PETS, right??????
Well sis dearest did not even bother.................
I am happy to see that MidKid58 is willing to give things a shot.
Also happy for RainMom, and by the way, wish you a good-speedy recovery from the big "H". Please take good GOOD care of yourself after the surgery. Even if you feel WELL enough to do ALL KINDS OF STUFF................the answer is NO. Rest, rest, rest, do what you can............
I had the big "H" in 1999, and it takes a GOOD go back to "normal". Not to scare you, but adhesions can develop, scarring tissue adheres to organs, and sometimes if you are not careful, they have to go back in. (Sorry, not trying to scare you, just saying the facts).


Just got in from eye doctor. Mom's cataract needs to be watched for the next 6 months, but it is almost sure she will need it out.
Hubby needs his out sooner than that.
I am their chauffeur..............haha! Who is gonna chauffeur me around? I got friends, lots of them. No worries.

Ok people, I will keep meandering thru the site and then my "break" (from mom) will be over.
Have a nice evening yo'all.

Group Hug ((((((((((((((( o )))))))))))))))))

Midkid, I can tell by reading your post that you Love your Mom very much, but that the break away period did you both some good. Like others have posted, be sure to keep your boundaries up, and give what you are able, but not so much that you feel like you are being used up. You sound very Strong and Healthy and I pray that this is a good start for you to have a place in your Mother's life that makes you feel good about things! Your doing the right thing!
Thanks again--I am going to her place tomorrow while she grocery shops with brother. I am going to clean and replace dead plants with fake ones (she won't notice--she does not see well) and dust, dust, dust and clean the carpets.

Brother was SO happy to hear from me. He knew I wouldn't stay mad forever. Also he does need the help. He promised he'd keep mother out for 2 hrs and so I can actually get something done!

We talked for a while and since he's her primary caregiver, he did tell me she's pretty much given up. Barely walks, does the minimum of what she can do. I told him I was truly shocked at how much aging had gone down in less than 6 months, and he said "I think we won't have her in a year. She's just falling to pieces." Well, that's OK. I'm going to be fine, and I am going to respect the boundaries that I set and also the ones she sets. I am glad to be on better terms.

I am happy for you! Really am! Also brother needs respit from the house.

Dollar Tree (99cent store) or a second hand store has those fake flowers and plants for the yard.

Yes indeedee, I do intersperse my real stuff with fake stuff, and mom tries to cut the fake ones, and says my scissors are no good, hahaha.................!!!

Enjoy, and take a respirator if the dust is so bad,

Mulata - thanks for the kind words. I've already been scolded for doing too much too soon - I've never been good at having down time so by day five I got caught vaccuming - but hey, they are hard wood floors so its not like it took a lot of strength! I got sidelined by a UTI however- but it's funny, I don't view a UTI the same way anymore. Since I haven't gone stark raving mad and am not hallucinating- I find it oddly reassuring. At least my mind is still in relatively good shape! So thanks again - you're sweet.
Mulata here, and because I care, I said what I said.
Been there, took good care of myself, and since 1999, no complications. I suffered waaaaay too much prior to surgery, so I did not want to suffer for something "I" did to myself.
Good Nite,

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