Last night, my Dad who was about to turn 93 on Friday, collapsed. According to Mom, who sometimes gets confused about details, he either didn’t or barely had a pulse and either wasn’t or was barely breathing. The EMTs did not allow her to go to the hospital with them (presumably b/c of Covid risk.) She gave them a phone number and asked if the hospital could call when they had more information. Mom has been having phone trouble all week. When Mom finally called me this morning, saying she would tell me as soon as she heard something, I gave it a few hours, then called the hospital I suspected he’d been taken to. (Yeah, I know my mother neither understands nor communicates medical information well, and has a long history of keeping me out of the loop about Dad, who lost speech after a series of strokes.) The ER staff person said he had been brought in last night and had passed away, and that they had called my mother over and over, but no one picked up. I immediately called the front desk of the facility where my parents live(d). Since Mom’s phone still wasn’t working, I had to tell her while she stood at the front desk. I feel awful for her. At the same time, she is in one of the first facilities to lock down when Covid hit Westchester, NY and I live in Brooklyn, where we had refrigerated trucks overflowing with bodies that couldn’t be kept in the morgue last spring. All during that time when my husband, son, and I, were following Governor Cuomo’s instructions to the letter, Mom kept bragging to me about how she managed to “cheat” with others who lived in the facility and agreed with her that all this “Covid stuff” was an overreaction. Eventually, I felt a responsibility to call the facility. It wasn’t the first or last time they had to call a staff meeting about my Mother. She has a bit of a...reputation there. So, I’m relieved she’s not pressuring me to go up there, gather with family for any sort of memorial yet. (We’re Jewish, so if it weren’t for Covid, we’d have a funeral underway by tomorrow.) But given her talent for denial, there’s no telling when she’ll start piling on demands. I set boundaries with her, usually gently and lovingly, but between handling my own grief and summoning up the energy to keep setting appropriate boundaries while being present emotionally. It’s all overwhelming. I so wish she were willing to accept the facility’s offer to help her do some Zoom gatherings or at least one-to-one. My son, her only grandchild, is a mostly non-speaking autistic. He’s very emotionally connected though, so it’s been hard to explain to him why we haven’t been able to drive up to Grandma and Grandpa’s. He’s doing well in virtual school, so I think he would find some comfort in seeing her and perhaps even more solace in trying to comfort her. (He’s just that kind of guy. I’m very proud of him.) But even while Dad was alive, I begged her to take the staff up on their offer to set up virtual meeting, and she just kept saying that “wasn’t [her] priority.” Sorry to ramble. I feel kind of numb about Dad so far, added to mixture of fear and worry about and anger at her. (She was a reluctant, burned-out care-giver who refused to hire enough help even though she the money to get more. She was horribly impatient with Dad, when he lost speech.)
Thanks for letting me ramble.