Being Thankful For Their Reminding Me What I Don't Want to Be . . .
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
(Doing a jigsaw puzzle with mom at the care center)
Flying can be so exhausting.
So hard on one's body.
I thought when we got home this afternoon that I would drop Phil and the dogs off at home with the luggage and head on over to see mom. That is not what happened. I came in the house with Phil and the dogs and proceeded to fall asleep on the sofa with my laptop resting on my lap. The next thing know it's 8:00pm and time for GLEE to begin. In other words I did not make it over to visit mom.
How did this happen? It's all I have thought about the last few days. Telling Phil over and over again what I was doing once we're home. Phil has been kind in listening to me tell him, I don't know how many times, I will be going to see mom. Telling him that I must go and see mom. I suppose, in retrospect, that if I said this enough times I would actually do it.
Being away for the week was good. It was a good week full of all kinds of new feelings. I thought about mom everyday, but I didn't think about her all day everyday. I called Zak a few times to see how mom was doing, but I didn't call him everyday. Phil told me repeatedly how proud he was of me for letting go and allowing myself to have fun. At the time I didn't feel guilt for indulging in fun. Tonight I feel a lot of guilt for spending the week having fun. I did have fun.
Having fun is not a bad thing, so why this sudden wave of guilt spreading over my weary body.
Going down to Austin was about more than simply having a fun time seeing Dylan and SXSW. It was also, and more importantly, so we could visit with Phil's mom and dad. Phil's mom, Nancy, has spent the last 2 months in the hospital recovering from a heart attack and the repercussions of that. We wold have been there sooner, but we couldn't with mom. It was certainly not a case of choosing which parent to care for first, it was a case of who needed us more at the time. Nancy was not in grave danger and her recovery centered on regaining her strength.
I know that Phil's sister Peggy is tired and physically worn out from being there for her parents. Peter and Nancy retired to Austin from Chicago; Nancy wanted sunshine and no more rain, snow or blizzards. The choices were Austin, Seattle, Minneapolis. Austin won. Peggy is the sole adult child there to help out. She looks tired, worn out, and even a bit resentful that her brothers weren't closer so they could relieve her of the duty.
Given that my husband is one of the brothers I spoke out. The three of us were sitting over dinner and we'd had a glass or two of white wine. Peggy was talking about how draining it was to work all day, come home and walk her dogs, then head over to the hospital to see her mom and dad. Peter's routine was to visit after breakfast, and then come back after dinner and stay while Peggy was there. I affirmed Peggy for visiting everyday and told her I knew how draining it could be. I let her know that Phil and I were also on somewhat of a visiting schedule with mom, and the dogs needing to be let in and out. I told her I hadn't cooked a meal in I don't know how long. I, in as kindly a manner as possible, let Peggy know she was not the only one who had all this going on and Phil was my rock, and that I could not get through this without him. I needed Peggy to understand that Phil isn't sitting in Seattle doing nothing. Phil, is in fact, carrying me.
I don't know who was harder to be around, Nancy or Peggy. They are both "the glass is half empty" women, and right now it is exaggerated. It was hard to sit and talk to them. It was hard not to speak harshly to them and tell them to try seeing the light and being in a happy space. It was hard, but I managed to keep it together and not embarrass them or myself.
What their behavior did for me was remind me of what I do not want to be. It showed me what not to do. It reminded me to always treat mom with the love and respect she deserves. I don't ever want mom to feel that she is an inconvenience to me. I come here to write and share with others the reality of care taking a parent with Alzheimer's. It's not easy and I need to vent about it; get it off my chest. I don't want to hurt mom in the process.
I am thankful to Nancy and Peggy for reminding me of what I don't want to be . . .