Saturday, September 19, 2015

Report from Pillville: Cake and a Plot Twist

My mother turned 91 yesterday. My friend Carol turned 70. Last night we had a party celebrating their 161 years of life. My son and his family drove all day to join us. Carol invited friends. My friend Sasha's parents joined us. My friend Pete skyped in for the singing of Happy Birthday. Carol's nephew joined us after dinner and snared the last piece of completely delectable birthday cake. If Sasha had made two cakes we probably would have devoured both of them.

Sounds fabulous. It was.

What happened before the party was not fabulous at all. After my son and his family arrived and we gathered around the dining room table to talk with my mom about Iowa. How nice it will be to go home. To get her wish. How so many people there love her and will be happy to spend time with her. Then someone flipped a switch. I don't remember how it started. But my mom started to yell at us. She's not going to a nursing home, she said. (After a month of being totally in on the plans.) She's going to move in with my brother, and if they don't take her she's going to take back their bedroom furniture that used to be hers. She doesn't need a caregiver because she can make her own bed. Okay, I said. Okay. Guests are arriving soon, I said. Let's not spoil the party. 

My mom has never yelled at me. Never. Really. I've heard her yell like crazy about stuff that makes her mad and she used to yell like a maniac at my brothers when they were wild little boys. 

It could be the steroids that she's on. Which she kinda needs right now. It probably is the steroids. 

The party was perfect. Thank you for the party, she told me before she went to bed.

And not everyone in the inner circle is supportive of my retirement from caregiving. As with many big family decisions, there's dissent. I've been juggling that. I'll look like a liar now. Like I am  pushing my mom out the door. Because now I am.

Life is softening me up. That's what I think. A punch here. A kick there. I get that. I'm learning. It's the blows to the heart that hurt the most.


Elsewhere said...

Let us be the cushions that soften the blows. You will still get hurt, but the bruises will heal quicker.

37paddington said...

It's the steroids. I had a cortisone injection in my hip once, for the pain, and in the days following i fought with everyone in my life in the most horrendous way, and afterwards i just could not for the life of me understand what i had been so angry about. i have never taken another one of those injections. I have preferred to live with the pain that to be so godawful mean. Your mom didn't mean most of what she said, at least not in the way she said it. The steroids flipped the switch.

Ms. Moon said...

My mother got so angry and mean in her last days. And she wasn't on steroids. She was in pain and on painkillers and had dementia and it was horrible. It was just horrible. None of this is easy. Somehow, you will get through and so will she and if it is time for you to retire as her main caregiver, then it is time and no one else has the right to say a damn thing unless they are ready to step forward and take over.
That's just my two cents and it's worth probably even less.
But I love you.

Allison said...

Yep - steroids. They turned my father into a very mean person. I reached the point where I would not pick up the phone when caller id said it was him. Just could not take the yelling. As far as family thinking you're shirking, suggest that maybe it is their turn. My turn was two years and it was extremely trying and debilitating. You've done right by your Mom.

Elizabeth said...

Why the hell can't ONE DAMN THING BE SIMPLE?

I'm sorry, Denise.

(It's the steroids. Even the word makes my spine tingle with the memory of three month old Sophie's rage when on steroids).

jeannine nye said...

Old people can turn on a sixpence and become almost devilish in their shouting, so I am not at all surprised how it has affected you this latest drama... I am happy though that the party went well and everyone was happy.. I hope the bruises to your heart ease soon dear girl and that you remain the positive upbeat person you naturally are* Life is very hard especially for those nearing the end, and I am sure that your mother regrets shouting, but she is probably so exasperated at how she is now, she turns on those nearest and dearest to her,,, have a great week and relax, we all know how much you have done for her, and if the rest of the family wont take responsibility it is time you allowed professionals to care for her.. You do still have a life to live yet... all the best J

The Aging Female Baby Boomer said...

I am fairly new to your blog and I hope you don't mind me weighing in on this. It resonates with me because I have gone through something similar. I am so sorry. This stuff with older parents is really harsh - there is no getting around it. Her reaction is more typical than you might imagine. She is afraid. At 91, this will be a huge change and people from that generation never wanted to end up in a nursing home. However, there comes a time when it is the best choice. My mother went through the same thing. She broke all of our hearts with her anger and recrimination. But we understood it was really her fear of change and her fear of death she was angry at, not us. It took her about a month to adjust to the new living situation. Hang in there. You are doing the right thing, and on some level she knows it.

N2 said...

Sounds like panic on drugs about life changes and death. We are here to cushion the blows. You have done an amazing job with your mother. Anyone who disagrees with what you and she decide can just step right up and take their turn. Sending hugs. N2