I'd been there. I'd felt that. My friends had shown me the way. When she called, I wasted no time; I called her right back. Telephone tag and two hours later I was wandering my house... my yard.... my kitchen as she brought me back to the days before G'ma was settled. I couldn't sit still. I needed to do something, anything, because to do nothing was untenable yet there was nothing I could do.
I listened to her talk.
Her mom needed..... her dad was..... and then there was her own family... and a relationship-by-marriage... and she was just so tired. Her own kid was finally getting settled. She was in charge of so much, and so little all at the same time.
So, I listened to her talk.
Her parents are there and she is here. Should they move, she wondered? Would they agree to move, I wondered right back at her.
She didn't say anything for a while.
Making decisions is where it all begins, and ends, and around which it all revolves. No one wants to talk about it. She was no exception.
I know what that feels like. I resisted making decisions for G'ma; I allowed her, perhaps, more independence than her cognition warranted. The woman got lost one block from her home. She was delivered to the concierge in her apartment building by a lovely young policeman who offered to drive me to the address on the card Brother gave me. To my mind, it was a simple case of "no harm, no foul." She had shown excellent problem solving skills, waving down a police car and asking them to point her in the right direction. She knew she was in trouble and she knew how to find help. There was no reason for her to live in a more restrictive environment. She was fine. I knew it. I had to know it. The alternative was too confusing, too jumbled, too sad.
Also, she had the best attitude. She wasn't afraid; why should she be? She spoke the language. She was vaguely offended by the question. I respected her and left her living alone in an apartment with a refrigerator filled with styrofoam containers of left-overs which was cleaned out by my sister and then the cleaning lady once a week.
And don't get me started on how she
I am blessed, and I know it. I am the luckiest daughter in the world. My mom raised a person in whom she can put her trust, who will keep her safe, on whom she can call in an emergency. She wonders where she is and why, but "whatever you say, sweetheart" is her default position. She has forgotten many things; she has not forgotten that she raised competent children.
Before me, she had my sister. There was a little more of two-way-caring there than there is here, but she was younger, then. I know I can call on her in a pinch. She may not remember my name, but she knows she's supposed to care for me... and she does. She was never
In the same way, I decide for her based on what I think she would want. Of course, she's not the same Mommy I knew when I was ten, or twenty, or forty. Her desires have changed, her outlook has tilted, she's a new
So, I listened as my friend talked about her mom's physical needs and her dad's stoicism and listened as the reality began to sink in. Memory care, bathing assistance, medication supervision, activities, food, quality of life issues.... they were everywhere and irrelevant at the same time. She needs to visit and consider and consult and, if she wants my company, she won't have to do it alone.
This is a piece of adulthood for which none of us is prepared. There is no cure for what is really wrong - they are just too old. Different pieces wear out at different rates of speed. The losses are asymmetrical and annoying and frightening and then they become dangerous. That's where she is right now, on the cusp,in danger of drowning in the emotions.
"I don't know what they need," was the recurring theme of the conversation, and the answer was beyond my ken. She'll have to explore and gather facts and rely on her instincts and judgment. What they need is available in a dozen places in a dozen pieces; the harsh reality is that no place will be perfect. She has high expectations and a good heart, both of which will be tested over the next few months.
I'm glad that I can be here for her. "Been there. Done that," feels pretty good right now.