Monday, November 23, 2009

I don't want to give up yet

"I don't want to give up yet."
How do you respond to that?
This was Mom's answer to her doctor's suggestion that she should think about moving: moving in with one of her children, moving into an apartment, moving to assisted living. Even just for the winter.
This was Mom's first answer that wasn't "No! no! no!"
It was the first time I got a peek inside her thoughts.
I think, she thinks, that receiving any help is failure.
She is so stubborn about letting anyone help her. No visiting nurses, no meals-on-wheels, no hiring someone to mow her lawn or trim her shrubs, no help putting away groceries, no help making up the bed.
Does she think that if she leaves her house, she stops living?
Like rattling around alone in her big dark cold house day after day by herself is so great now? She was always the social person. Now she is isolated in her house until someone comes and drives her away. Even when she could drive, for the past few years she has become more self-isolating, not going to meeting and gathering, staying in instead of going out.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

out to lunch

Sometimes when we go out for lunch, we'll find a small restaurant or a diner. Sometimes we'll find a sandwich shop, a deli, coffee shop, or pizza spot. Sometimes it's the cafe in the book store or the grill at the ice cream stand (with the really good fried fish and onion rings).

Over the past month I've noticed that my mother can no longer order lunch by standing at the counter and selecting items from the menu board. She is really much more comfortable (relaxed, non-agitated) when she sits down and reads a menu.

"I'll have what you're having" I now know is a coping trick. But, she really doesn't like to eat what I like. So, I try to point out things I think she might like. Then she gets mad at me for reading the menu off the board, "I can read you know!"

"I can't eat all that, it's way too much!" Of course it is. Anything you order is way too much. You always take home half of any meal you order.
Which is fine, she might eat twice today.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

again and again

The repetition, over and over, again and again. The same stories.
Each time we pass this neighbor's house, I hear that she has a new husband.
Each time we drive past the diner she comments on their tasteless meatloaf.
Each time we drive past a certain tree stump, she says it looks like a mailbox.
Each time we pass the old boarded up restaurant she tells me about a neighbor of ours who liked to eat there, forty-five years ago.
Each time we see the mountain, she tells me about climbing it when she was in high school.

Yesterday, there was new news. Her church has a new minister. Then she told me this new news again and again, every hour, all day.

A few months ago, the electrical crew was in her yard, clearing branches away from the power lines and poles. I was there that day, and I heard the trucks and saw the workers. I called to Mom, to come see. All we could see was a bright orange hardhat above the field of grass. For the next five visits and six phone calls, she told me a story about seeing a pumpkin in her yard, but it was really an orange hardhat. I listened attentively each time I heard the story. But, after the ump-teenth retelling, I got upset. I really got upset.

Mom, I remember you telling me this story already, and it is kind of funny, but what really hurts me the most, is that I was with you that day, I pointed out the hardhat to you, we had a good laugh about it together that day. But, when you tell me that story, you don't remember me with you, you don't remember laughing together about it, you don't tell people "my daughter and I saw the funniest thing", you tell the story like I wasn't even there.