I just found out my Dad, who is in the hospital with sepsis, has instructed my 82 year old Mother to set up this weekend at a three day show for my Dads business because he refuses to cancel his booth. Mom has a pace maker and although she does not have dementia she does get confused very easily. She has help to set up and transport the merchandise but she will be manning the booth by herself the whole three days and driving to and from (she is a terrible driver and always has been).
I think they are expecting us to drop everything and help but I absolutely cannot this weekend. I have my own commitments. My siblings are not available either.
This is purely elective on their part but you would think it to be life and death. My Dad has always put money before everything else and Mom just goes along. For example.... it is very possible that the infection he got originated in his gums. He refused to spend money on a dentist. His teeth are all broken and brown and his gums are a mess. He always has money to buy pricey merchandise for his business but he refuses to spend on his health. My folks have gone the last three years with a broken oven because Dad is not willing to buy one. I told them we would try to help out with the cost but he does not want to spend any money at all and we can't afford to buy one for them outright. This is nothing new. When I was a kid we went without hot water in the house for six months because he would not pay a plumber.
I knew this day was coming. My parents have refused to make any kind of plan for their elder years. At the age of 85 my Dad sill talks about his five year business plan. I have two siblings and none of us are in a position to drop our own lives to enable my parents to continue their business the way they want to. Right now they have some modest business assets that they could sell to supplement their SSI and stay in their home but they refuse to even discuss it. Meanwhile they are continuing to pay huge overhead costs while the business flounders and they are going deeper into debt. My siblings and I have tried to talk to my parents about downsizing the business to a more manageable level. I have offered many times to help with that but just bringing the subject up infuriates my Dad.
I am sick over the idea of my Mom doing this show alone. I worry about her driving to and from (but then I always worry about her driving) I worry that she will become confused, this happens when she is stressed. I worry that she will fall down because she gets dizzy off and on. I also know that if I come to their rescue this time they will expect it of me and that enabling this behavior is simply encouraging them to continue along the same lines. It would be putting off the inevitable. I am trying not to feel guilty but it's not easy. How do you cope when you know it's the right thing to say no, but that there might be consequences for your loved ones?