Friday, July 17, 2009

Locus of Control

I've written about this before, and I'm sure I will be writing about it again.

Today I selected an apartment for G'ma. She wasn't with me, though she did see it yesterday. I decided when she'll be leaving her current space and "transitioning" (apparently, the elderly do not "move", they "transition") to her pod-castle. I didn't ask her if she wanted to rush right into it or wait a month or so. I looked at my calendar and I picked a date. She'll have to give up some of her furniture (as she shrinks so does her living space, it seems) and though I'm sympathetic to her feelings of loss, I've also given her no choice in the matter. It is what it is. Because I say so.

And I'm uncomfortable with the power. That's an unusual state of affairs for me. The gavel was one of my favorite parts of being President of the School Board. I know that the world would be a better place if I were in charge. I never played dress-up as a princess; I was always the queen. And yet, here I am, making decisions for someone else and not liking it at all.

I consult with my siblings. I talk to my friends. I think and cogitate and ponder and review and rehearse. But, ultimately, I am alone. It's G'ma's life and somehow I'm in charge.

I don't mind the helping part. I love her. She's not cranky or crotchety or demanding of my time or my presence. She's glad to see me when I arrive and lets me leave without a pocket full of guilt. Her needs aren't that onerous, and we both like watching Mark Harmon smile on NCIS ("most initials on television"). Always up for an adventure, she'll go to any movie or try any hole-in-the-wall restaurant...... as long as it doesn't interfere with her nap. She's never wanted to be a bother, and she isn't.

But she's also not as much of a participant in her life as I wish she wanted to be. OK, so maybe signing her up for piano lessons without asking her first was a bit much. But how am I supposed to know where to draw the line?

It's the reverse of having teenagers. G'ma's looking for less independence and less autonomy and less responsibility as she grows up.

That looks odd, doesn't it? Were you expecting what my brain thought --- growing old ---- as my fingers typed growing up? When do you stop growing up and start growing old? Is there a plateau period? After his parents died, TBG was struck by the fact that there was no one between him "and the abyss". Is that the moment when you stop growing up and become an adult? Is that the period of stasis? Even a 5 year old is growing old, yet you'd never say it that way, would you?

And is that the source of my angst? That I want to be growing up and having my Mommy care for me? Perhaps. But more than that, I think it's the loss of possibilities for G'ma. Her short term memory issues confound her ability to control more than her immediate, personal space. She guards that space jealously, rebuffing offers of help and assuring me that she'd be fine alone in her apartment Tuesday night. And she was. And she enjoyed her alone time. But I was anxious about her when I went to sleep and I was more anxious about her when I woke up. And I need to sleep. And she doesn't want to be a burden.

She asked me, recently, how she should explain the presence of her "girls" to the other residents in the Old Folks Home. She's afraid to be alone, but she doesn't want to advertise her weakness. I told her to smile ruefully and say, "They make my children feel better."

This next move will make us feel better, too. And maybe that's how I let myself off the hook?

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