Saturday, July 12, 2008

What Day Is It?

Yesterday around 11 AM, the screechy little-girl voice summoned me from the computer room.

Mom was wearing her "not-getting-my-due" face.
"Where have you been? Why didn't you get me up me this morning?"

"Why should I have gotten you up?"

"We have hair appointments today at one o' clock!"

"No, we don't, Mom. That's next Friday."

"Oh."

Around 4:45 PM, the screechy little-girl voice sounded again. This time she handed me her TV remote.

"It's almost time for Charles Stanley."

"I don't think so, Mom."

"Yes, it is. He comes on at five o' clock."

"But his program is on Saturday. Today is Friday."

"Oh, that's right."

I think I had something akin to a "nervous breakdown" this month. Mom was driving me nuts and I was yelling at her too much. I could tell that she was worried about me. Heck, I was worried about me. Yelling at her is elder abuse, pure and simple. There's no excuse for it, except that I was overtired, worried about leaving her alone, angry at her blindness to my needs and frustrated by her resistance to hiring outside help.

We have a dear friend who is 10 or 15 years younger than my husband and me. He worked with Phil until he was forced to retire after being diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. For years, as the only child of an ancient, reclusive mother, he dutifully flew to Alabama to spend holidays and vacations with her. Later, when the Interstate took their family home, she moved into the new house they bought together up here. When I'd ask him how she was doing, he would cheerfully say, "Almost time to call Dr. Kervorkian."

"David!" I would chide, but he would be grinning at the rise he had managed to get out of me.

I'd ask him what she did all day while he was at work. "Watches TV."

I knew he'd never watched TV when he lived alone, so I asked, "So you got cable?"

"Naaah. Why? There's nobody at home up there."

"David!"

I'd ask him if he had hired a companion for her.

"Naaah. Why? She doesn't want one. She's either watching TV or taking a nap."

"But what if she falls and breaks her hip?"

"Old ladies fall. If she falls, she falls."

She never fell, but bronchitis finally took her away. Some months later, he became fatally ill himself. That's life for you.

2 comments:

Nancy said...

I read your post and I remember some of my own days of frustration with my Mom. As much as I loved her, she could really put me on edge at times and I was so tired from both the chores and the weekly 9 hour round trip drive to go and take care of her now. Even so, I know I am lucky because Mom really tried to not be trouble to anyone. I really think that sometimes hired help is the only answer, whether they like it or not. Just a day or two to yourself would be a huge help I know.

forsythia said...

Thanks for your comment. I know you've been in the same situation, so you REALLY know how frustrating it can be sometimes. Your nine-hour round trip sounds daunting. There's good things and some not-so-good things about having Mom under the same roof. If she still lived in Meadville, it would mean a 6-hour trip one way, part of it on the hair-raising Pennsylvania Turnpike.