Redemption, Love and Other Challenges

After many failed marriages I begin again, not with a marriage, but with a relationship that transcended all the marriages and relationships. A relationship based upon 20 years of unvarnished truth. A relationship, that although lovely, is stripped of the pretty illusions of happily ever after.

But first a story.

My little mother is living with dementia. She lived with me for almost two years until seizures, a serious fall and cdiff stressed her already frail body. She resides now in a residential facility that offers what few, if any, nursing homes offer – true community.

More on that later.

I sit with my mom many evenings and answer questions about her life. Long stretches of family memory have vanished. Most of her memory of my life is gone. To everyone she beams and says “this is my daughter.” I can do no wrong. I am her protector and her joy. This is a blessing for me, a chance to make up for the heartache and worry my life choices caused her tender heart.

One evening she asked me “are you married?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Mommy I have been married before and it never worked out.”

“Really?”

“Yes really. Mommy do you know how many times I have been married?”

“No, how many?”

“Five.”

Silence for a moment.

“No, you’re kidding.”

“No, really five times.”

She then turns to her best friend Evelyn and says “can you believe she has been married five times?”

Evelyn, who has been married over 70 years says to me …

“What’s wrong with you?”

Food for thought.

Why did I always leave instead of stay and work through situations that developed, in part, from my issues.

Abandon or be abandoned.

Now, I am committed to staying the course, which at this late stage of the more likely includes illness, infirmity, wrinkles and death.

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The Sweetest of Holidays

I walk around with a smile plastered on my silly face these days. I am drunk with hope and joy.  Anger and hurt feelings I use to nurse religiously have melted away.

Why?

I have a job.

Miracle of miracles – a job.

The answer to a million prayers – a job.

If you are unemployed you know the sheer depth of  that word.

The simple joy of going to work will be mine.

This past year has been the most challenging of my life. For months I barely moved, frozen in fear of losing everything.  Every noise frightened me – were they taking my car, turning off my utilities or serving legal papers?  I cried myself to sleep more nights than I can count; many days I thought I couldn’t go on.  I felt a failure, a terrible, awful failure.

But I did go on, sometimes in tears and more often than not a mess of tangled emotions.  How I made it through is a miracle. I always had food. I kept my car. I managed to keep looking for work and be positive for interviews.

How?

Through the grace and love of friends.

Friends who called me to let me know they knew what I was going through. Friends who fed me, paid a bill, or two, or more.  And my mom who never stopped listening and caring for me – even though she is a little forgetful at times.

I am so lucky, so blessed.

From the bottom of my heart – thank you.

Mothers and Sons

After reading this I am further convinced that Barack Obama should be our next president.

As a mother, Ms. Soetoro was both idealistic and exacting. Friends describe her as variously informal and intense, humorous and hardheaded. She preached to her young son the importance of honesty, straight talk, independent judgment. When he balked at her early-morning home schooling, she retorted, “This is no picnic for me either, buster.”

When Barack was in high school, she confronted him about his seeming lack of ambition, Mr. Obama wrote. He could get into any college in the country, she told him, with just a little effort. (“Remember what that’s like? Effort?”) He says he looked at her, so earnest and sure of his destiny: “I suddenly felt like puncturing that certainty of hers, letting her know that her experiment with me had failed.”

Barack’s mom sure knew what she was doing.

Read the full article at New York Times

More Mama Less Drama

Update March 17th

My mom had a rough week and I learned the importance of being a squeaky wheel.

My mom was sounding worse everyday – fuzzy in thought – kind of like she had been drinking, which of course she hadn’t. I couldn’t get to see her for a variety of depressing reasons, so I was limited to action by telephone. My mom told me she wasn’t sleeping so well – and also told me there were towels on the floor of her bathroom because of a water leak. I tried to reach the social worker with no success.

I spoke with my mom on Friday about 7 or 8 times – she mentioned the water on the floor of the bathroom at least 5 times. She said it had been reported. Friday evening when I called her at 8 PM she was already in bed, sounding tired and still fuzzy. Saturday morning I called and she sounded fuzzier and told me that when she needed to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night there was so much water on the floor, they had to take her DOWN THE HALL.

I got on the phone. The weekend manager told me she would check on the water leak and call me back. I told her that it was UNACCEPTABLE (in just that tone) that my injured mother had to be trucked down the hall in the middle of the night. No apologies. My next call was to the nurses station to discuss my mother’s fuzziness. And this is where it gets good – the nurse told me that a “family member requested that she be given more vicodin.” Hmm – the family (except for me) is in IRELAND for a wedding so I doubt it was one of them. Then she recognized my voice – she said it was me – I asked for my mother to be given more vicodin. She said “you came to the nurses’ station and spoke to me, to give us your phone number and to request more meds for your mom.”

Uh, NO. I was not at the nursing home, I had called to confirm that the SIL in charge (delicacy prevents me from calling her names) had left a local contact before leaving the country with the other family member in charge. She hadn’t. I gave them my number, inquired what meds my mom was on (tylenol and if she needed something stronger – vicodin).

The nurse then told me that she gave my mom tylenol before therapy since it seemed to make therapy go more smoothly. While she was talking to me there were voices in the background – discussing what was in the chart. Bizarre. I told the nurse that “no, I never requester that my mother be given more vicodin.”

Long story short – the Director of Nursing called. The leak was fixed – it was a LOOSE BOLT. There maintenance man fixed it. And she apologized. The meds issue – abit more complicated. She listened, offered suggestions (darvocet instead of vicodin – less fogginess) and told me to call her with any other issues.

I talked it over with my mom – she did not understand the PRN meds order – she knew something was wrong and thanked me for figuring it out. Today she sounds better.

I am grateful.

Update March 13th

Sure, she looks sweet but don’t mess with her or now you know where I get my stubborn streak

Per yesterday’s post my mom informed me that the rehab powers that be were going to force her to take all her meals in the communal dining hall. You will recall that my mom was none to happy about this although, and I quote “I am not prejudiced against all those other old people – they can’t help the way they are …”

I talked to my mom at lunch time today. She was in her room, waiting for “them” to bring her lunch. Surprised I said “I thought you had to have lunch in the dining room.” To which she lowered her voice and replied “If you beg in just the right way they don’t make you go.”

Rock on mom, don’t let the man get you down.

UPDATE ON MY MOM

Thank you all for your kind words, and in Aunt Becky’s case, the offer of back up muscle. My mom is doing great – exceeding all expectations. She is doing all her own self care and walked either 50 or 500 feet today. She isn’t sure about the distance (she has been getting a little fuzzy on details over the past year).

I called the nurse’s station to clarify a couple points, and although they were a tad snarky, they did answer my questions and confirmed that she is doing well.

One thing is a bit weird, my mom has refused to go to the dining hall. Now it appears she has no choice. Today she told me that “they” would no longer bring her meals to her room. Keeping with her change in vernacular she said “our” room. Her roommate, whom she refers to as “my friend” or “the other lady,” apparently does not want to go to the dining hall either. I can’t figure out why.

Is it the temperature? The one time she went there she said she was cold. Or, is it the depressing sight of all the other residents? When I try to find out she gets all defensive. “What are you saying – that I am prejudiced against all the other old people. I have nothing against them. They can’t help the way they are” she says. Then she reverts to “we” meaning she and the other lady – “we prefer to eat in our room.”

“Why Mommy?”

“Why what? I just don’t want to go that’s all. If I have to I don’t mind. It’s not a problem.”

Sigh. I feel useless.

Ellen, Pammy-Girl’s Roommate and My Mom

I regularly read Pammy-girl’s blog even though she, by her own admission, attracts men over the age of 50, thus reducing the potential dating pool for Five Husbands. I have to keep reading to see if she is tossing back any potential suitors. Note to Pammy – not interested in today’s toss. But I digress – I checked in the other day expecting to experience my normal level of envy (she’s young, she’s beautiful, she’s one hell of a writer) and instead was sucker punched between my two very green eyes.

Pammy-girl’s roommate hit the jackpot on Ellen. Pammy wins by association and by the tell-tale swag.

I have been watching for years, scheming for years, from all these miles away, to get on the Ellen show. I even submitted a pitch featuring my aging mother in an amaturish photo/drawing collage hoping to catch someone’s eye.

ellenmomwish.jpg

No luck. Nada. Sigh. I didn’t watch the roommate’s appearances – a person can only take so much disappointment.