Saturday, May 16, 2009

Life Ain't Easy, for anyone...

I'm taking a big old deep breath today. One that I haven't been able to take in a long time.

I have been anguishing over being my mother's caretaker, and a future on the road with my hubby. I'm talking, can't sleep at night, thrashing, guilting, shaming, ugly fighting with myself.

My mother is 86 years old. She has had encephalitis/menengitis about 10 years ago. One of the affects of that is an ability to only see how something applies to her. A self-centeredness. I say that in the nicest way. She also has a venomous anger towards anyone she thinks has slighted her, real or not, that she will carry until she dies, that has nothing to do with the illness.

We had her move down here to our area about 5 years ago into a little community that has a pool, a gym, activities, and a large number of people that were eager to make friends because most of them had just moved here. I was here and would be able to help her when she needed it. She immediately quit driving, would not go to any of the activities, use the pool, use the gym. I was surprised that I would be her sole source of social interaction, transportation, contact with the outer world. But okay.

We tried to get her interested in things that she used to find pleasure in; painting (took her out to find supplies, bought instructional video, everything she said she needed) but she never even opened it. That is one example of many.

I take her out once a week for shopping, wherever she wants to go. I devote that day to her, and because she is walking very slowly these days, and can spend an extraordinary amount of time looking at things she has no intention of buying, I can only handle it one day a week.

I love this woman. I want her to be comfortable. I don't ever want to be a source of pain for her. That being said, I also have a husband who has been fortunate enough to have survived cancer, and finds himself slowing down as well. We have dreamed of hitting the road in our motorhome and seeing the country while we are still physically able. The anguish came while trying to figure out how to make the dream come true without making her feel unwanted. I thought I had come up with a way, especially after she had commented that she didn't know how much longer she would be able to live alone. She does not want to live in our city if I'm not here. The place she used to live is geared towards the elderly with many services available providing transportation, shopping, doctors, and assisted living if you choose to do that. It also has an RV park that we are members of where we could stay for 6 months out of the year. So I made this suggestion, noting that we would like to start traveling within two years.

She was quiet. I knew it would not go over well, but she didn't say much. That was a few weeks ago. I explained it to my oldest brother since he is the one that she turns to. He had been planning on visiting her this week, so I suggested that we all talk about it while he was here. Agreed.

Well, we did talk about it, and as expected, she is a firestorm of anger. I understand it to an extent, the thought of moving is overwhelming at my age. And this was not her idea, and she probably feels like we are just dumping her off somewhere. But what she is unwilling to look at is the fact that even if everything else stayed the same, she would be moving into assisted living down the road anyway, and probably sooner rather than later.

Today I still feel guilty about causing her undo stress, but I'm also feeling a bit sad and underappreciated, that I, evidently, am not supposed to make any plans for my future two years down the road. I thought two years was far enough out that we would all have time to chew it over, talk about it, and make some plans without feeling stressed.


Simply Heather said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Simply Heather said...

I've read this and don't really know what to say, other than that I've listened...I'm in a difficult time with my dad, now also. Not quite the same, but it's truly hard to be in this position with our elderly parent (86 - wow!).

I've watched my in-laws with their parents ~ there are no "make everyone happy", quick answers to these life changes.

I'll be lifting you and your family up in prayer :o)

Cynthia said...

Dear shabby girl with the big big heart:
I am so sorry for the pain of this dilemma that you are in.
After you have done all that you can, which to me, it sounds like you've gone above and beyond, I think it's ok to go ahead with your plans. In fact, I would start now. Start traveling now. Parent/Child relationships (or any others for that matter) are not to include bondage in the "rule" book.
Peace to you,

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry you are faced with this. It is a difficult situation. No matter what I did for my mother it was never enough and I was single and able to do a lot. It sounds to me you have gone the extra mile. In my opinion, no matter the age if we have any cognitive ability we are responsible for our own emotional well being. We, as individuals have the ability to find happiness and contentment in our lives. No one can do it for us. I think sometimes we lose sight of that fact. I agree with Cynthia-- bondage never brings a good outcome.

Tabby said...

I hope things work out for the best. I can only imagine the inner turmoil this is causing you. My thoughts and best wishes are with you and your family.
Take Care

m good said...

My heart feels for you. I lost both of my parents too quickly -- one to cancer and the other to a stroke -- so I can't begin to understand how hard it is on you. Yet, it sounds like you have been there for your mother all these years and that makes you a wonderful person. I agree with making your plans. And, if you do get to do that traveling, you had better blog it! Keep your chin up.

septembermom said...

My heart aches for you too. You are such a wonderful daughter and your mom does know that in her heart. I'll be praying for you and your mom. Stick with your plans. I'm sure it will all work for the best.

Pam said...

My heart goes out to you. You just have to do whatever you feel is right. I think that you've done your part and you have the right to focus on your life too, but you need to decide on what makes you feel comfortable with yourself.

shabby girl said...

I do so appreciate everyone's support. God knows I needed to hear that to make sure I'm on the right path. I do plan on a letter to her and my brother, a nice one, I might add, explaining my feelings after our talk. I have to be careful, because she doesn't get the whole encephalitis aspect of it, and I certainly don't want to hurt her feelings or make her feel like she is lacking in any way. But I think she needs to know that I don't feel it is inappropriate for me to make plans. Like I said, I love her, and don't want to make things worse. I'll let you know how it goes. Thanks again for your words of wisdom.

Scriptor Senex said...

Never mind what you owe to your husband / mum in these circumstances. Think first of all about what you owe to yourself. My parents lived with us and lived into their nineties. I made mistakes thinking that every holday with them would be the last, etc, etc, etc... Consequently I put my own needs and those of my wife off for far too long. Our parents may have brought us up and cared for us but there is a limit to what we owe them when it impacts too severely on our own future. And its not even a question of whether or not you get thanked for it - it's simply what you should do for your own sanity, health and happiness.

The main thing is not to feel guilty about whatever you decide. You can only do so much.

End of lecture - sorry but its a subject that experience has made me feel strongly about!

Lots of Love

Janice said...

I love you so much. Wish I could give you a great big hug! Anything I could say, you already know. There are no easy answers, and no perfect solutions. Re-read Scriptor Senex, and then read it again. It's a question of balance, and of what you can live with. On either side. I'm here for you anytime you want.

shabby girl said...

SS-you bring tears to my eyes! Wow. I can only imagine what that must have been like being in the same house. She lived with us for 6 months after the encephalitis and I knew I couldn't do that again.
Thank you so much for sharing your experience and wisdom with me!

shabby girl said...

Janice-you are truly a wonderful friend. I am blessed to have you in my life!

Simply Heather said...

OH so much wisdom shared here. I am blessed in reading, especially the honesty and truth in Scriptor's sharing. He's right...really. I've often thought of the days when I'm old and what may become of me in these circumstances and I think to myself...I could possibly find happy in anywhere...yes; yet, I wouldn't want to be lost and forgotten by my beautiful grown men :o). There are three - I know that there will atleast be one who keeps loving up momma when the day comes. I would never expect them to "take care of me" though. God has placed many loving people with a gift to care, to love, to show kindness to those who can't care for themselves alone. There is a reason...because we aren't all built with this gift.

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