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.