Recently my elderly mother asked me to take charge of arranging all consultations, phone calls, transport, covid travel passes, covid tests, accommodation and 25 radiation treatments. She has had CLL for seven years and in the last two years she has had radiation for a couple of carcinomas. She has hearing loss and is tired but insists on living alone. I agreed to do all this because I care and I felt glad that she wanted me to help her. The oncologist told her plainly that without this radiation she would have 4 to 6 months left to live. She is 82. Ok. Had a long life. Had Years to come to terms with facing her own death. She was Angry. Nothing new. Anyway I proceeded with the organising. A big task, especially with covid lockdown. We travelled to the first radiation appointment and mum decided to decline the treatment. She said she wanted quality time for her last months over just more time. She said she felt relieved. I felt sad but relieved too. She said she could not have suffered the weeks of travel and radiation with its side effects. I was surprised at her mellow mood. I should have known better. I informed my family about her short time left and they all felt sad. I went back to work and told my boss I would not be needing time off for the foreseeable future. But the peace did not last. Eight days later mum said on the phone: I woke up this morning and felt better so I am now going to phone the oncologist and see what he can offer me. What the....? says I. Everything has been cancelled says I, going into defensive mode. My work roster is full again I point out. Ga ga ga. How could she just be so capricious? Well says mum I am going to organise it and I will phone you she said dismissively. My friends will help she announces. She cannot possibly arrange everything without making it into a MASSIVE DRAMA. She even said well you can quit your job and get a carers pension and stay with me. No Way. I still have a 17 year old at home and I live in another town. The arrogance of her. I have been through this scenario before with mum where I have found solutions, big and small, when she asked me and she has sabotaged the whole thing. I am left feeling sad, mad and burnt out.

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I think Kantankorus hit it on the head. She expected to be fussed over her remaining time here and when you went back to your life she was not happy. Nothing wrong with telling her NO, you can't ask for more time off.

My father would do this all the time. Change his mind as the wind blew and expect me to rearrange my life to suit his wants. At first, you don't know any better and jump. Then you realize this is going to be your life for many years to come and you realize you have to stop this now. My father didn't think anything of expecting me to leave work to reprogram his remote....and this would happen at least twice a week. I would tell him to use the tv in his bedroom until I had time to be there for my regularly scheduled visit. He would demand I stop by right after work but the problem was I had kids in aftercare and no wiggle room on pick up time. He would just tell me to 'find someone else to fetch them". And who would that be?

I'd move heaven and earth to get him something he wanted and at the last minute change his mind. One day I planned to spend most of the day with him. He insisted we stop for lunch. I normally don't eat lunch but stopped for him. After we get seated (no easy task with a person with mobility issues) he says he isn't going to order anything. Then why are we here? It is a never-ending cycle.

Stick to your guns and do not rearrange your life for her again. Only do what is convenient for you to do for her.

You don't have to listen to her drama.

She said she can do it, so let her.

Boundaries are very difficult to put and keep in place with our parents, especially when they use their health as a battering ram. However, you must do that to protect yourself.

It is okay to tell her no, I can't possibly do that, I am going to go/hangup/walk away now, I will be back when you can be kind/respectful/???.

You are a grown woman with your own children that need you to be healthy, happy and stable, please do not let your mom ruin that for all of you with her antics.

Ask her oncologists office if there are people that coordinate treatment for Mom. If so, let her pay them to do the work you did. Stand your ground. Sorry Mom I can't do it again. No, I am not quitting my job. You can't change your mind and expect me to jump. I have a job, I have a child.

I guarantee that if you dropped everything for her, she would turn around and say she can't do it.

Reading between the lines, perhaps mother misread the reaction she expected to receive when declining treatment. Her 'mellow mind' was likely a healthy dose of self pity and unwillingness/fear to fight - your 'surprise' might have left you lost for words (or the words she wanted to hear) to break down in despair. Instead your pragmatic acceptance of her right to choose could have come across as cold or aloof.

In her understanding, 'quality time' may have inferred being doted on, pampered, and fussed over for her remaining days - ah, delightful... But no, everything went back to 'business as usual' - such a stark contrast to the scenario in her head like some 1940's movie with soft harps, candles, and devotedly distraught family by her bedside.

Sorry for my cynicism, and I don't dismiss the emotional turmoil for all in such confusing times (and I can't say I wouldn't act the same way given similar news of my impending demise), but I see this also in my father who plays the pity card at every opportunity. It just doesn't wash with me and I cop my fair share of vitriolic retaliation for what he expects as complete servitude. Nope, not happening - reality, my friends, keeps focus and prevents being sucked into the vortex.

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