Monday, August 3, 2009

My Life in the Deli

I think I'm coming to an epiphany. Obssessing will do that for me, and I certainly have been single-minded in my focus on G'ma's move these last few days. I'm feeling more and more like the pastrami in the rye bread sandwich, with the Big Cuter here on his way to Law School and G'ma there on her way to the pod-castle. They each require my attention. Neither wants to be a burden. Both are happy to let me make most of the decisions except the ones they want to make for themselves. And neither of them lets me know in advance into which category a particular decision might fall. It's a good thing I love them both.

G'ma came back from lunch today to an apartment stripped to the bare walls. "I'm moving, right?" And it hit me right then. I have been pouting while putting pictures into boxes and knick-knacks wrapped in flannel nightgowns into dresser drawers and lamp shades on the back seat of my car and you've just reminded me of why this move is a good thing. You can't live alone and you can't afford 24/7 care at home and what if you are alone and get sick in the middle of the night and don't remember to call me for help. Just like in my first job, the best alternative is the least restrictive alternative. It's just hard to remember that least restrictive assumes that some restrictions are necessary.

And that's the problem. I want everything to be just as it was when I was 7. I don't want to consider the fact that her memory is failing and that her physical capabilities are waning and, worst of all, that she doesn't seem to want to do very much about it. Brain Training Exercises?? Physical therapy? Fall Prevention class? Chair yoga? They are all available and have all been rejected.

My frustration, I think, is that I have been framing the problem inappropriately. I am setting goals that I would set for myself (making friends, staying fit, taking charge of things on my own) instead of setting goals that G'ma would set for herself. She doesn't want to make new friends - why should I decide that that is something she needs to do? She's comfortable using her walker - why should I decide that she'd be better off trying to develop the strength to do without it? Rejecting opportunities to participate in activities at The Old Folks Home doesn't mean that I chose a bad place for her to live, it means that she doesn't want to participate. Nothing more and nothing less.

It's been hard for me to resist assigning blame to all and sundry for G'ma's lack of engagement in the world around her. But maybe that's been the problem. There is no blame to be assigned. There is no guilt, no second-guessing, no issue at all. G'ma is doing what she wants to be doing, and just because it's not what I want her to be doing/know she ought to be doing/used to want to be doing doesn't mean it's not ok.

The Little Cuter told me several years ago that "G'ma could stay with us forever. She's kind of invisible." If that invisibility is where she is most comfortable, then I might as well relax into it with her. Letting myself off the hook shouldn't feel selfish (though it does) or lazy (ditto) but I'm going to try to believe her smile and the affirmations she sends my way : "I trust you, sweetheart."

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