My oldest brother is my mother's favourite child and favourite person in the world. He loves her too. He lives 125 miles away from us, works full-time and has a busy life. His wife is a recently retired dietitian. She has huge issues of her own: I'm not unsympathetic, but they're not my problem - except that, for some reason, they've made her amazingly hostile to elders (e.g. she calls my mother "manipulative" - my mother wouldn't know how; she gets angry if her own mother expresses any opinion about her own children and calls her "interfering"; she wants her aunt forced into residential care because the aunt isn't doing her PT exercises properly). She has selected a place for respite care near their home which, frankly, I wouldn't leave my goldfish in: it's run like a boot camp. SIL thinks it's wonderful; has heard good reports from her colleagues and social circle. The home describes itself as "ideal for the active elderly." My mother has severe CHF, Stage IV kidney disease, vascular dementia with ?Alzheimer's involvement; she had two minor strokes almost a year ago; she is at high risk of falls; she is very anxious about the whole idea of needing care, and really not good with strangers. I've already told them mother is not going to this place they've picked, which we all visited before Christmas. I'd happily spell out why if I could get a word in edgeways, but I always get cut off by accusations that I don't like it because I didn't choose it.
This evening my brother calls to say that as we're going to be travelling near them for my aunt's funeral this would be a good time for mother to stay in this (rejected) respite care home. I say no. He flips his lid and hangs up on me. I call straight back and get SIL instead; she is also angry because, she says, I am very rude to her (honest, I haven't even started…) and think that I am the only person who knows how to care for my mother. I do know better than she does; because she makes no effort to ask about what's going on clinically and has no idea of what my mother's current condition is. But because she has worked with stroke rehab teams she thinks she knows what my mother needs. More to the point, she thinks my mother lacks moral fibre and that "she can't be too picky about where she stays."
My brother is clearly extremely angry with me. The fallout of this is that he called briefly on Boxing Day, but didn't speak to my mother. He did not call her to wish her a Happy New Year. Her sister died on New Year's Day, and he has not called her with condolences, nor given me any message to pass on to her. He is being a thoughtless idiot, which wouldn't bother me except that my mother would love to see him and love to hear more from him. My SIL said this evening that "she's his mother too, he wants to see her." He does? Well, yes, I'm sure he does. But he's hiding it extraordinarily well.
N.b. My mother is not staying anywhere she is not spoiled rotten and taken lovely, respectful care of. It's taking me every waking moment to convince her that she is loved and important, after a lifetime's training in the opposite beliefs. She is not paying over $1000 to get ordered around and plonked in front of the TV for a week, in a care home that has one qualified nurse who works Mon-Fri 9:00-4:00 and as far as I can tell is always either out assessing future residents or in meetings.
Thanks to AC, you would all have been proud of me this evening. I did not get angry back, I was not rude to moron-face (it's my pet name for SIL), I concentrated on breathing properly and stayed calm, and I went on to have a nice conversation with my lovely grown-up nephew about his career and his forthcoming marriage.
Now. How do I get my brother to have a conversation, rather than an argument, about how he can see more of my mother without its being difficult for him or unpleasant for her? How do I bypass SIL? They've given me one option, it sucks, I reject it, they blame me, they come back with the same option, it still sucks, I reject it, they get angry and blame me... What's my best next step?