Should I contact my dying Mom even though our relationship is broken again?

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Mum was admitted to hospital 3 weeks after hearing she had terminal lung cancer. She insisted I didn't return but the doctors said it was time for me, as only daughter. Spent 2 weeks caring for her, "putting affairs in order" (GP's words), talking with specialists involved, helping her in any way I could, setting up open communication routes with everyone for when I returned to Japan.

After discharge, I fought on her behalf for her to stay at her beloved unit, however, four nights later we both came to the hard acceptance that she couldn't cope alone, even with daily nurse visits and services such as; shopping, cleaning, taxi, emergency pendant, pharmacy delivery, OT. By this time, pain management drugs, and her condition, were taking their toll on her cognitive ability which frustrated her, understandably.

Mum's relationship with her family broke down over the last ten years. While caring for my 84 yr old Japanese MIL, I worried about how my own mother would cope in her elderly years, so last year contacted her. I can't deny that I don't still hold grudges, which do flare up now and then, but for my sons' (8 and 11) and her sake, we tried to move forward positively.

This sudden visit, I met mum's best friends, Val&C and Graham&L. Val explained they'd been advised to set up an EPOA, so they printed one off the internet. We all agreed revoking the existing one was best.

I had reservations about Val but mum trusts her and someone needed to physically be there after my return to Japan. Val would visit daily demanding to know what I had done, doing, how she was to be involved. Her behaviour was erratic, rude, competitive, and upsetting. For mum, I bore it, and tried to get around her interventions even though I felt Val was using coercion on us by her constant verbal battering.

We printed another short form EPOA off the internet, where mum, Val, Graham, and I signed, with a very clear verbal understanding, I thought, with mum's consent, that I would deal with the health side, she the financial stuff, and Graham as a back up.

As I feared, mum was back in hospital a week after me leaving. The facility, that she loved, wasn't available yet. I was back in Japan, trying to keep in touch with doctors etc. and monitor mum's condition, skyping her every day via the ipad that I had gotten for her. Instead of news, I was hearing of Val's intervention. A horrible feeling of helplessness and frustration, so reminded Val of our agreement, but she said she was being a friend and they were approaching her as she was an EPOA. Eventually, I called her and got angry, asking her to stop. She was damaging the progress I had achieved with the Facility etc. with her calls, often to the wrong people. She hung up on me. A common tactic, like stomping away while trying to talk with her.

She obviously told my mum, though denied it, as my mother sent me a scathing e-mail saying not to upset her friends. Mum sent an e-mail to Val, reporting how she told me where to go. It was wicked, cruel and so hurtful after all I had done for her. Two days later she was transferred to palliative care. She skyped me, screaming and shouting how could I do this to her, is this how I wanted her to end her days. After calling the nurse, I talked with Graham, from Japan to Aus, to say she is very upset, please help her. Over the next 2 days, when I called, she was cold and nasty.

Mum was transferred to the facility, the one I'd worked so hard to get her into, the next Monday. I sent flowers and a card of love but have been reluctant to call or e-mail as her hearing aid bothers her, then she gets upset and angry again with me.

I told Val not to contact me again as I could not function by her "working together", as she put it. She responded in her usual manner, childishly. Threatening us with more work to get her off the EPOA and executers of the will, and reporting it all to mum, who by this stage is really deteriorating. Graham and I ignored her, hoping this would be an end to her meddling and upsetting. But, then she starts again, taking over everything.

Graham has been wonderful, calming mum down, helping both her and me get through this difficult time. Now poor Graham is getting Val's spiteful attention. Oh, and I'm being sterile apparently as I refuse to respond to her! Graham and I have been in constant contact, continuing to help mum both from my and his side of the world, working in unison so mum sees her last few weeks in comfort but his resistance to Val is wearing thin.

This woman's intervention is horrible but mum sees her as a good friend. I refuse to have contact with her or while she is around, which is most of the time now.

My family will go back to Oz in 3 weeks. Can I risk all of us being hurt by this behaviour. Mum said the other day she doesn't want the boys to see her, however, I feel it's Val talking, to get to me through my children. Grahams sadly tells me any day now.

Any suggestions on what I should do?

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I agree with all of these helpful people. If at all possible you should go and see your mum. That's what this is about.

If you don't go, you may wish you had after it's too late. Expect frustrations and expect that your mum will be confused.

I've seen circumstances where a person manipulated the dying elder and it's one of the most vile things people can do. However, there are things that are out of our control.

Being so far away has got to be very, very hard. Try to see your mum and have some time alone with her just to hold her hand and let her know that you love her.

I'm glad you wrote and we hope that you'll check in again and let us know how you're doing.
Carol
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Ally, I'm confused by your profile. Does the Alzheimer's/Dementia refer to your Japanese MIL? And where are you permanently based?

You're not going to like this. I think you should step back. This is why.

Your mother insisted that you should not return once you had had news of her terminal lung cancer. Partly, no doubt, it was because she "didn't want you to worry" (yeah yeah, don't they all say that? How, exactly?) but also, possibly, it seems to me, because she had a shrewd idea that things were going to pan out as they have in fact panned out. That is, with a brief reconciliation followed by hassle, aggravation, hurt feelings and flaring tempers.

Remember that it was her doctors whose bright idea it was that you should involve yourself closely once more. Doctors can be as sentimental and prone to relying on stereotypes as anybody else. Normally, yes, one would expect a dying woman's child to be the one to call on: but does anybody here actually know of a "normal" family? It sounds as if your mother grasped the situation better.

I suspect that your mother agreed to the various attempts at a working POA arrangement because she did not want to reject you. That's a good thing: underneath everything, she loves you and cares about you, she doesn't want to shut you out. But what she doesn't need is wrangling and arguments. She is ill, tired, dying. What you can offer her now is not practical support, but acceptance and love. Nothing else matters much.

Let the people who are there on the ground deal with logistics and arrangements. Spend the time you would have spent on things like that either speaking to your mother on the phone or, if she's not up to that, writing to her. You can email her via Graham, ask him to deliver hard copies. Try to be kind, but don't be dishonest. Think Nelson Mandela - truth and reconciliation - not Pollyanna. Give her as much comfort as you can. Never mind thanks or praise or appreciation, most mothers want to know that their children are going to be ok. If you can truthfully tell your mother that you know she loves you, do it.

Ignore Val. She's nothing to you. Be civil as you would be to any stranger you don't happen to have taken to. And stop blaming her for things. Her impression of you was founded on your mother's opinion. She wishes to help and protect her friend. Make of that what you like, but don't imagine that this current situation is all her doing.

Eight and eleven, the boys… Hmm. This is very borderline. Terminal lung cancer is not pretty. Taking leave of their grandmother is important. I'd suggest you think extremely carefully about the pros and cons of their seeing her; but very heavy on the side of the cons is the fact that your mother has told you not to take the boys to see her. You should respect her wish.

If you still want them to, though, get her agreement to the visit. You can take them with you and settle them with books or games in a lounge or reception area while you ask her: tell her they're there and she has the option of seeing them if she wishes. But you've no right to insist on her receiving visitors, and any conflict during a visit would add fear and misery to the boys' sadness at seeing their granny as she now is, and their anxiety about you.

You say you can't deny that you still hold grudges. No one will blame you for that, I certainly don't. But you haven't got time for them at the moment. Long term, it would be good for the boys if you do address them. Right now just concentrate on what you want your last exchanges with your mother to include. You still have a choice about that. I wish you strength, and enough time to make some good final memories.
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I feel for your situation - being on the other side of the world makes this even more difficult for her. Is there any way you can fly in to see her before she passes? I think if that is possible you need to consider it. Sounds like your Mom is frightened about everything that is happening to her, and rightly so. You might also consider drawing up a Durable Medical and Mental Health Power of Attorney. I don't think you can get that on the internet. I believe you have to go to a lawyer for that. I truly wish you the best of luck.
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Yes. Regardless of how you feel, you will never have any kind of closure unless you go see her. I went to see my father before he died, and we have really not had much of any kind of relationship all my life. He told me he was a bad father, and I did not excuse him as it was true, but I got closure. You will always wonder and regret not going. It may not be a pleasant experience, but, it will give you closure one way or another.
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This is certainly a difficult situation. It involves several people, however, the 2 most important are your mother and you.

My mother was a very difficult and demanding woman. But she was MY mother and I loved her. I promised her I would be with her when "that time" came. And I was able to keep that promise. I don't regret it. She would ask, "I am dying, right?". "Yes, mom you are, but I am right here". I was honest with her and I held her hand. Just before she passed, she opened her eyes and said, I need to hug my girls. She did and slipped away.

YOU are the daughter. Your mother may have said she did not want you there, but I think you need to do what YOU feel is right. Do not let people suggest that you stay away. You will not be sorry for doing the right thing.

My own experience is that my mother was afraid of dying alone. A "friend" cannot take your place in your mother's heart. She may be afraid to say that she wants you there because of her friend. Bottom line...blood is thicker than water.

If you do what you know to be the right thing, you will never regret it.
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What an awful position. As my mom's sole caregiver, I know how stressful it can be. I'm not defending Val, but she may be overwhelmed and has decided to blame you for her own feelings. Whether you come back or not isn't about Val. It's about you and your mum. In another unrelated decision in my life, I had to decide what I would regret more. It sounds like you need to decide what you would regret most: Going and having your mum angry and distant, possibly dealing with Val...or it could be all good. If you decide not to go, know that you did your best. It's hard enough to take care of everything related to my mom when she's in the same town as me. I can't imagine how hard it is to manage and turn things over to others in another city or country. Unfortunately, you are the only one that can decide. Think about what is best for you...and what you'll regret more, going or not going. Good Wishes.
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I have to agree with Panamacarol, Exhausted Momma and Debi 1306 (who always has a ear for those that need to be heard).
Do take their advice, I cannot add anymore than they have.
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Arrived Friday morning, sitting with mum the whole time until she passes the next morning. Mum's wonderful, true, friends where there to help and support both of us. I told her many times how strong she had been, that we all loved and she could go anytime knowing that she would be remembered.
To my horror, I discovered from other friends that this Val wasn't really a close one. Since I'd not been in mum's life over the past years, I had no idea. Graham, her absolute best mate, and I comforted and supported each other the the whole ordeal. We managed to ignore Val and focus on what was important, mum!
Unfortunately we've had to give up on any involvement in the simple cremation and gathering. Val has even gone so far as to override mum's and Graham's verbal agreement that he spread her ashes from the Cessna plane over the Gold Coast and my taking a vial of ashes, since it's part of our Japanese side custom. Her husband is doing it.
Mum's friends are also quite upset at this exclusions, but approached me to kindly ask if they could do their own memorial for mum. They're waiting for my family to return in two weeks to Aus. Very kind, positive support felt by all. As it should have been.
I wrote a harsh letter to Val expressing how we felt about her bahaviour and that since she'd forced herself upon mum in a vulnerable time, she would have to complete the duties of executor. The rest of us have accepted and moved on by doing our own life celebration. We wish to have no more contact after this has been completed.
I've tried to impress on Graham and friends that it's not worth argueing and fighting with her. I don't want things if they are to be gained under this veil of negativity.
I'm at peace. She was in a lot of pain, heavily drugged, not able to move or respond. The two times she woke, I could feel her focus was more on the pain, which I helped with immediately. At 7am she opened her eyes and looked directly at me. Holding her frail hand, I once again told her how much she was loved, laughed at how she could go and meet her beloved brother and play pokies up there with him. At 7:10 she took her last breath. While cleaning out her care facility room, I found all the little gifts that the boys and I had brought for her from Japan, plus the cute notes they'd made to get well.
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My Mom is a nightmare & I live with her! But I think it important (no matter how difficult she is) that I say goodbye when the time comes. I didn't have that opportunity with my Dad. He died in the middle of the night unexpectably.
I wonder if that EPOA is valid. She signed it while on strong meds (I assume). Ignore the email & her friends. Just let her know you love her (whether you do or not) & maybe suggest we BOTH forgive each other (because your Mom sounds like mine, who is NEVER wrong, especially now that she has Alzheimer's Dementia. And someone said "she will change in time." I don't agree with that. She's too old & difficult to do that (I KNOW that from my experiences with my mom). My ❤️ goes out to you.
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Do what you feel is right in your heart. Ask your boys whether they want to be able to say good bye to their grandmother. Explain to them that her appearance may not be the same and she makes a noise when breathing and is using oxygen or whatever. They can see her after the funeral home has taken care of her appearance. They should also be encouraged to write her a letter saying goodbye or make notes or drawings to put in the coffin with her. Many dying people do not want others to visit because of their changed appearance but will speak on the phone so there are many ways to handle this. Any visits by the children should be brief and only with their consent. blessings
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