Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thursday 13: The Devil's Mother-in-Law

Unbelievable. Just unbelievable.
The last few weeks have been a torrential, tumultuous rainfall of missteps, loss, challenges and adjustments.
And yet, here I am, a limping Hop-A-Long Cassidy, in my writing room, sipping coffee, finally working (on my own terms of course), and trying my damnest to juggle and smile my way through thorns and thickets. (I am very dramatic today). And here I am appreciating my 91 year old mother in the sweetest deepest of ways. Here I am feeling more deep love.
This week's Thursday 13 is a review of the bright light and dark side of just that.
1. Since she came here three weeks ago, my Mother has been waking up before dawn. I know this because she calls out "Help...Help" or "Hello...Hello". I jump up and go into her room. Fearfully and with relief to see me, she holds her soft hand out, I give her mine, and she asks, "Oh, kj, where am I? And where was I before this--did I fall?-- what happened to me?"

2. I tell her about her fall in July and broken hip and weeks in rehab and I end by explaining that she is here with us to take a few weeks to determine the place she will be safest and happiest. A few night's ago, when she asked these questions, I said, "Mom, I think you've had a bad dream. In the dark, she looks at me, smiles, and says, "kj, this is no dream!" We both laugh and I watch her put her head on the pillow, now content.

3. One night my mother wakes as usual but this time she is fully aware of where she is, where she was, what has happened. She is not happy about it at all. She firmly says, "Why is God treating me like the devil's mother-in-law?"

"Mom", I ask. "Did you make that term up?"
She laughs. "I think so". Her green eyes sparkle when she laughs

4. My mother is playing Crazy 8's every chance she gets. We've hired two homemakers to relieve me a few hours a day and on weekends, and she's turned them both into card sharks.

5. This is very similiar to having small children at home. I have to plan my errands, work, and social time in advance and with coverage. No spontaniety for me these days.

6. We have looked at 3 places for my Mom to move to. All are within 15 minutes of me. None is perfect.

Place # 1: Nursing home, too few activities, too much downtime, plenty of hugs, responsive and wonderful aides, consistently above average because it's where my Mom has been the last three month.s

Place # 2: Nursing home, double the activities, not sure about hugs, tiny teeny rooms the size of large closets, highly recommended all around.

Place# 3: Assisted Living Center, memory unit with triple the activities, no hugs (that I could see), private lovely room, questionable aides, I felt more negatives than positives.

7. I'm getting used to my Mother being here. I hate not having more free time, but you know, I'm amazed how nice she is. And how patient I am.

8. We've finally come up with chores she can do. She's insisted on helping out, and it's been hard to know what to say to that, given that she is still abit unstable and needs a walker. However, she is now setting the table, washing and wiping the dishes (I had to let go of using the dishwasher..) and folding clothes on the couch.

9. Never ever underestimate how important it is for an older person to feel productive.

10. I am regularly cooking again. More meat than I'm accustomed too, but hey, I hope I stay in this groove.

11. My dear jb, who has just lost her mother and is facing her own version of major surgery, is so sweet to my Mother, it almost makes me cry.

And while i'm on the subject of the Devil's Mother-in-Law, here's the breaking news on my knee surgery:
12. It got CANCELLED! At the last minute! %&***!!@ (every swear in the book).
What else could happen?, you might ask. I asked myself the same question. Standing in my kitchen, shocked that an insurance oversight screwed up the surgery I was leaving for one hour before learning it was cancelled, I called Ces, told her the story, and asked if I should laugh or cry. She didn't hesitate."Cry!", she said.
13. This brings me to Now. Here. It's been an ok day, actually. I expect the ##$&&*! surgery will be rescheduled for early next week, I anticipate a smooth recovery, and all's relatively well in the household. I must really be an optimist. I certainly keep trying even when I'm barely muddling through. On second thought, afterall, if there's a better choice out there in the cosmos, I'm not aware of it.


  1. Crumbs! Oh I hope a reschedule is in the cards - AND at a suitable time Egads!
    Your mother's humour and smile are a great gift, and I so feel for JB right now - such an unsettled time for all three of you.
    Hugs all round!

  2. The energy flow and the love in that beautiful house of yours is simply amazing

  3. Am glad things are working out at your house. But that knee surgery cancellation IS a bummer.

    So true about what you said in #9. My great aunt who is 80 eighty years old and has lived with us for 36 years is still strong enough to cook, wash dishes and sometimes oversees the nanny with my kids. If she had to sit still all day long, she'd go crazy!

  4. What a world! I'm glad you are getting scheduled back in so quickly, and your mother has been teaching you the valuable lesson of patience, so you'll be fine! I'll be over with ice cream when you get back from your surgery!

  5. You write a beautiful 13, KJ -- and I love the balance of frustration, gratitude, thought, and love in all of it. And I'll add some curses to that slew of 'em about your surgery! :(

    My favorite memory of staying at your house (other than the proud display you gave of all 453 drawings Charlotte did for you), was waking in the night to hear you and your mom ...

    Mom -- KJ?


    Mom -- KJ?

    KJ -- Mom?

    Mom -- KJ?

    KJ -- Where are you?

    Mom -- Where are *you*?

    (both are giggling now)

    KJ -- I'm in the kitchen ... wait there ...

    Then I hear two loving voices murmuring and giggling as I fall back so sleep.

  6. lavender, thanks a ton.

    ces, the energy flow and love in this beautiful house of mine doubles when you are shuffling down the hall.

    mench, i never thought i'd say this, but 80 can still be young. from what i've seen, people can be very vibrant until about age 85. then, things start to break down and slow down...

    rm, you are a good friend. i am going to cook something for you when life at # 9 slows down abit.

    melissa, hahahaha! i remember this! it was like a marx brothers movie.

    UPDATE: you know, i keep waking up reminding myself: no terminal illness, no homelessness, no heartbreak, no financial destitution. i'm hanging in, and i'm proud of myself for that.

  7. hey, that anononymous is me!

  8. Hello, Anonymous KJ! :) Just reading your post and finding you very courageous! :)

  9. I am so proud you are my best friend.

  10. mademoiselle princesse, is it courage if circumstance dictates it? thanks for visiting here. i will be seeing you at your place.

    ces, you mirror my sentiments toward you exactly!

  11. It will be nice to have your mother nearby and safe. I figured out that eventually my parents would age and I'd be responsible, but I know it just sort of creeps up on a lot of people. In a way, it's even better than a small child, because you are not responsible for their development-they already are pretty much what they are. Maybe we have to get really old before we get to have unconditional love. Now that is something to look forward to!

  12. debra kay, i am definitely a less selfish person than i used to be. it's a much nicer way to live.

  13. I can only repeat that "a Carer's job is the most difficult in the world" but you already know that. This is the REAL Anonymous by the way ;)

  14. Have comfort that things have been seriously poopy for many of us.

  15. This made me cry. Your mom is so dear and this is very hard. I'm glad you all have each other!

  16. I'm terribly behind here. Sorry for not visiting, I'm simply drowning in work.
    Haven't even been taking any pictures since November 4, except for the Blokart picture that is.
    I really like the way you write about your home situation and your dear mother.