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