Evesdropping on Mom


Getting a pedicure Getting a pedicure[/caption

Every day brings a new revelation with my mom. I took her to her doctor to find out why she’s losing weight. I have had two blood tests, and now another one.
Next week she will get a CT scan. Nothing seems to stay in her system. She can only eat very small portions of food, and she doesn’t drink enough.
I leave a cup of juice at all times and snacks for her, but she doesn’t touch it unless I tell her. I’m careful not to push her too much, as she will then eat more than she can hold in her little tummy.
I’m a t a loss. Even making her milk shakes with Ensure, is too dense for her. She drinks a couple sips, and she’s full.
The only time I’ve ever seen her this small was when I was very young and she’d had a nervous breakdown. She lost so much weight and at that time, she was only 86 pounds.

She’s not depressed, nor does she feel sick. Unless she overeats. But I’m constantly trying to find new ways to help her.
She has now accepted the fact that she cannot move back to Wisconsin until she gets the weight back on and her blood pressure stable. At least this is what I’ve told her, and she feels she needs an excuse for her not being able to return.
Every season she says, “Oh, I’d move back but there’s too much snow!” Or, “I’d move back but it’s getting too hot now!” I’m prepared now, for what her excuse will be. I once called her bluff when she was fighting with me about her move back. “Go ahead,” I said. I waited and she was so perplexed that I wasn’t saying no, to her. She sat for a minute and said, “Well I can’t yet. It’s too cold.”
“Ok,” I said. “Tell me when you want to go, and I’ll help you.” I realized I had crossed over to the right side. No more pushing or pulling the weight. I just went along with it, and I could see this was all she wanted.

Yesterday she was sitting and watching her show, when out of the blue she said, Oh Carrie is up in Milwaukee. When I move there, I’ll call her and she’ll help me.”
I got that familiar stab in my heart, that I felt, the first time I realized she doesn’t know that I’m her daughter, Carrie.
I felt tears fill my eyes, as I tried to look away and asked her, “Have you heard from Carrie?” She said, “No, but she’s very busy.”
This hurt me. I can’t imagine a son or daughter not communicating for as long, as she thinks Carrie hasn’t called her.
“Then how do you know she’s in Milwaukee?” I ask. “Oh, I know. Her brother, Craig keeps in touch with her.”
I said, “I’m sure she loves you very much, even though you haven’t heard from her.”
“Oh, of course she does!” She says. Very proud and smiling as she seems to speak something that is a known fact.
“She’s off work right now.”
This is where I’m confused in my understanding of this disease. How does she connect the thought that I am, indeed off work, to care for her, and yet she doesn’t understand that I am the person she speaks of?
I long to help her understand that her daughter loves her and I feel a need to convince her that, her daughter wants to talk to her.
“Carrie loves her brother Kevin so much! She always listens to him when he talks and does so much for him.”
Here again, I’m totally perplexed. As my brother Kevin lives here too.
“She has a very big heart!” She says.

Now I’m finding this difficult. I’m stuck between my wish to let her know how special she is to, Carrie, and not brag about myself.
“She sounds like she does. She’s a Christian isn’t she?”
“Oh, yes! She always talks about God!”
“Well, then I’m sure that when she thinks of you, she is praying for you because she loves you so much.”
“I’m sure she is!
I tell her that Carrie sounds as if she kind of managed problems in the family and she agrees. She told me, she called on Carrie when there was a problem. She then said, “She’s so sweet and loving.”
I don’t think she’s ever said that to me.
I tell her that when I talk to Craig, I will make sure he tells Carrie to call her.
“Oh, yes, that would be great! I miss her!”

Now, I leave the room because I’m beginning to cry. My sweet mom, now accepts the fact that her children love her so much, yet this, Carrie cannot even call her mom?
Oh, I’m so mad at myself! What is wrong with me?
I called my son downstairs and shared this conversation.
I said, “It looks as if I’m going to have to make a phone call to grandma. Knowing that she has this respect for, ‘Carrie’s advice, I may be able to take advantage of this.
He reminded me of his call, pretending that he was her doctor and said, “Yes, she will love that. She won’t even know.”
The best part is that she will experience the joy of the love from her real daughter, instead of the imposter living with her now!
I must admit, it is humorous when I think about the whole thing.
Most people pretend to be something they’re not in this life.
I am faced with this peculiar task of pretending that I’m me! Hope I can pull this off!

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Thanks For Letting Me Call You, Mom.


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All the things I’ve done with my mom. I try to make each moment special. I want to hold on as tight as possible. The fleeting life. Memories running through my mind, as if I’m counting steps in a race. Pounding the pavement,with each step, as I bring forth another from the archives.

Yes, I remember that time that I came to her to tell her that her young friend had died. “What?!” She yelled from the top of the stairs. “She is too young!” Then she reminds me of the feud that this friend and another of hers had been having. The other friend, ‘Mary,’ had just died months earlier. She was waiting for a liver transplant, and it didn’t come in time. She was engaged to be married.

This was the saddest event, even after my mother had experienced her own heartbreak, one right after another. Still, she hadn’t lost the ability to feel pain. Mary had a little boy and girl. The boy had Cystic Fibrosis. He died about a year later.

My mother told me that when her friend Betty heard the news, she had a shocking response; “it couldn’t happen to a nicer person.” My mom was angry at this. “How could she be so mad at Mary, that she would say something like this?” She said.

My mom was just beginning to lose her ability to express emotion. I believe it was right about this time. She had already had a breakdown and lost so much. So these were just more bumps in the road of her life of loss.

I remember how I looked to her for protection, but she didn’t seem to have this capacity. It was more like a message of hope, wrapped up in her own despair. “Things will get better.” Is what she would say. I couldn’t understand how I would always get the same words, no matter how bad the circumstances of life could be. “Oh, don’t worry. Just give it to the good Lord. Things will get better.”

“Here we go again.” I thought. “Are these just words she thinks she’s supposed to say? Am I ever going to get the emotional support that I so desperately need?”

But now I’m speaking to my mom, after getting off the phone with my sister. I’ve shared with both my brother and my sister, that mom, is losing ground. “She doesn’t know we’re her children.” I tell my sister.

She was on the phone with her, when I heard my mom say, “No she left.” I asked, “Are you talking about me?” She refused to look at me, and repeated herself. “No, she isn’t here.” My daughter looked at me with that, “Who is she talking about,” look.

She said, “goodbye,” and as I saw her handing me the phone, I could see my sister was still on the line. “Kim?” “Yea, I thought you were there.” “Yes, I’m practically sitting right next to her.”

Now my sister was seeing that I’m not exaggerating her condition. I talked with her for quite a while and she could understand that this is a rapid progression.

I finally hung up and went to take my mom up to bed. As I was talking with her, I said something about Kim being my sister, and she said, “That’s not your sister! That’s my sister!” “No, mom. That’s your daughter.” I tried to remind her. Your sister’s are, Carol, Jean, Ann and Dorothy.”

She repeated herself, “Kim is my sister!” I tell her that she has her children and her sisters. Then she tells me that she never had children.She gets very sarcastic as she states, “You don’t know my family!” “Ok, well then will you let me call you mom?” I ask her.

“Where is your mom?” she asks me. “Well, my mom left when I was young, and she never came back,” I said. “Oh mom’s don’t do that!” She says. “Well, usually they don’t but, mine did. So may I call you mom?” I ask once again. “Sure,” she says.

Then I ask, “Can Kim call you mom” and as if I’ve crossed over the line, she says, “No!” She’s not my daughter! I just talk to her on the phone!” “Ok, how about Craig?” Again, a loud, “No!”

“Well,” I said, “I guess you are going to let me call you mom, because I’m living with you.” “Yes,” she says.

For this I’m grateful. She looks at me with eyes of sympathy. I said, “Thanks mom.” And give her a big hug goodnight.

I had joked with my brother just the other day. As a word of warning I wanted him to know what was happening before he received his birthday card. “Listen Craig. It’s taken me so long to send your card, that when mom picked it out, it said, ‘Son.’ But when I finally got her to sign it, she signed her name!” This time I told him, I get the prize for belated birthday wishes. I waited so long that you’re no longer a son. I guess I can save some money now on the non personalized versions of the cards, which I have in my drawer.

This disease is unpredictable and strange. I’m just glad she’s allowing me to stand in as a daughter, to help me through this time. So she can speak those words which hold so much more meaning now.”Just give it to the good Lord.Things will get better.”

A Father’s Love


A father and his daughterThe innocence of youth

 

I have been thinking of my father. It happens every year at about this time. I know his birthday is coming, (September 30) and I become depressed.  I know it’s something I feel. A darkness shrouding me. I start getting depressed, and I beg the Lord to help me out. My father died in April of 88 and my brother died a year later. It was too much to bear. I started working for my company, a year after the death of my brother. The fall, which normally is my favorite time of the year, became something I dread. It is a symbol of death. The leaves on the trees, which are beautiful, as they are turning, are now a picture of gloom.

I was in a ‘holding pattern,’ for a long time, as a result of this. I went into a training center, which became another picture of depression. But yet, the Lord, allowed all of this. Perhaps it was to protect me, from myself. He knew, that I was suffering. Had it not been for my roommates, and the fact that I had just returned to the Lord, I would have withered away. I felt desperate and alone. I used my humor and the friendships, I had developed in training, to keep me grounded.

My father had asked me, “to give his love to my mother.” I believe I am doing this every day. But he didn’t realize how difficult all of this would be. To leave in such a manner, and to wrestle my mother, on every little bit of her loss of independence. She refuses the help she needs, and I’m growing weary from the constant complaints. She believes she can “take care of herself.” I know she can’t.

My father left, because he couldn’t handle the depths of despair, which he felt he lived with. Caused by his drinking, and his own company. I understand, the anger, he felt. I’ve experienced this myself. There’s no justice and no way to understand, without the Lord. Life isn’t fair. That’s just a truth, I’ve accepted. It is for those who can afford it.

Now, I debate, what to do for my mother. What is best for her? Do I try to give her what she so desires, or ignore her pleading, as many say, and keep her with me. I know it is just going to become more difficult. I long for my father’s advice. What did he mean, “Give my love to your mother?” What would he do?

I know my father was totally dysfunctional, as all of us are. Some of us just don’t admit it. I know my faults and loved him, in spite of his own. The Lord reminds me that, “although your father loves you, he is imperfect, but I am the perfect father.”

I will be 54, in October. The same age my father was when he died. Even my birthday, is a thing of sadness. So many times, as a child, waiting for my father to show up. Left me on a porch all alone. My mother, slapped me in the face, once, as I came in to the table and sat down, crying. I was exasperated that my father, failed to show up, once again. And she was angry, that I was crying for my father. I told her I still loved him. And she became angry. Her own feelings of contempt, taken out on me. She does the same thing to me now. But, just as my father was not in his right mind, I accept this with my mother, as well. Yet, it still hurts. I feel the darkness sweeping over me.The memory of me standing right in front of him, begging him to “hang on.”  Yet, my cries went unheeded.

Now, I feel a need to run to my heavenly Father. “Help me Lord. Help me to do what is right for everyone. I don’t want to live according to my will, my ways. I want to see on the other side of this, darkness. The light of His love, and His grace.

As, I wait on the Lord, I’m asking that He turns this time of the year into a thing of beauty for me. To remind me that, after the death of all the creation, comes resurrection! The spring brings new life! I want to stay focused on this, as I enter into this season. A new beginning.

Thank you Father, for sending your son, Jesus Christ, to remind us all…this is not the end.