Like The Queen
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Sweetie, you've just leapt a mile high over one of the biggest hurdles we face as adults. Thank you for sharing it so personally with us, because most of us will have to deal with this at some point, and any insight into it has got to help. Luv ya.

By Blogger Mary, at 3:53 PM  

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007  

It’s been such an emotional month, climaxing Monday when we moved Mama and her personal belongings to the large brick block that is her new home. For so long it’s been a priority with me, to get Mama into a place where she has help with the struggles of daily living and can spend her energy on things that fulfilled her life. This seems like such a simple concept, such a logical choice, such a GoodThing, that those who stonewalled this effort frequently took on the shades of evil and cruel and BadGuy. Since September the pressure to place Mama into a safer environment, either by a move or drastic changes in her home, has mounted - to the fever pitch it’s been the past 3 weeks.

The stakes have been rising in this stupid game of TryAndMakeMeChange. Delaying much longer and Mama would die, yet success had never been closer. I sent out the cry for spiritual support to friends far and wide. The return was an avalanche of prayer and meditations, positive mental images, active as well as passive love for me, for Mama, for the very concept of families. It was something I could wrap around me as tackled each step in the process. It kept me kind when others began to fray, it buoyed me up, it strengthened me, it curled my lips into a smile of peace. It walked with me on Monday as we moved Mama into that safe place where there are people to help her with the chores of life so she can spend her energy on the joys.

Monday was a whirl of activity - lots of packing and labeling and thinking about things and lifting and driving and carrying and arranging. And yet, the chest X-ray report was still out there in medical records land and there was a chance Mama wouldn’t be able to move in. Driving down the middle of Midlothian Turnpike, Sister got the call that the last shred of paperwork had been delivered and we could move Mama. Both parents were very stoic about everything. Scudding clouds of tiredness chased frantic looks across Mama's face. Dad wanted to stay home. Mama wanted him to come. Sister’s dear darling husband provided manly strength. We buzzed around Mama like an entourage moving a celebrity into a hotel room. There were lots of little touches of welcome from the staff, including a gift basket with little trinkets and candies, as well as flowers on the table. Mama has a studio apartment and we made it a real studio by setting up a corner with her easel and paints, charcoals and pastels and new art supplies. Lawsee, nothing could make me happier than to see mama drawing again.

Sister had arranged to spend the night and I took the guys away before we could become maudlin. I hadn’t planned to spend the night, but when I heard the tremor in Daddy’s voice as he said "Oh, I’ll be fine. I have to get used to living alone sometime" I knew where I needed to be. L, my dear brother in law, stayed a while, teasing and talking, but once he’d gone home, I took Daddy up to his home away from home, his favorite grocery store, where he could soak up whatever good vibes he could find there. We had a few opportunities to talk quietly about the changes in his life. It feels so sudden to him because he’s had his head stuck in the sand so long. He has never been able to talk about his life, his world, his choices, his situation, his consequences, with too much objectivity. Well then, who can be very objective about his own life anyway? Who isn’t too close to things. But now and then he has talked to me about who he is inside - that secret dark cavern of self that he has rarely ever shared with anybody. We touched on these sharp points lightly, a little, throughout the evening.

There is a terrible psychology of being left - of being abandoned - and that is my Daddy’s fate. The absolute understanding that my sister and I have orchestrated my parents’ divorce crashed down on me Monday night. This is no melodramatic gathering of guilt on my part. It’s a recognition of the consequences of our actions. It is part of why we took so long to get insist upon putting Mama into assisted living. Not that my father wouldn’t benefit from it too if he would allow it to happen. He limps and forgets and suffers from depression caused by lack of relationships too. But he still has a little mobility so he can find solace at Ukrops, flirting with the check out girls. Mama’s mobility was just about nil and she was a prisoner in her house. She was also proof to Daddy that he was a failure at one of the few things he defined himself by - a man who took care of his family. As his ability to care for mama disappeared, every time he looked at her he flared with resentment and offended pride.

Now she is gone and he can only see his reflection in a mirror. Both of them have to adapt to change but he has to do it in familiar surroundings - he’s the one left behind. She has all new things to try out and she is far more emotionally suited to trying new things anyway. There are staff people who’s job it is to see that Mama fits in, finds friends, has fun. Any joy in Daddy’s life he’ll have to find himself - although we daughters will probably do a good bit of manipulation behind the scenes to bring interesting things his way. He needs a project right now. At the moment he’s taking on the absolutely dreaded, and totally unnecessary Sale Of The House. Prayers are still needed that he grows tired of that project before he actually sells it because .... he will quit half way in the middle and Sister and I will get to finish up that project, find him a new house and ... 2 years from now have to sell that one too. And we really need a break right now. Both of us would be mighty glad to only have to sell one house one time - and do it later.

As for Mama - I’d been afraid to let my hopes rise too high. Although I knew her personality well enough to expect her to be very happy in this new environment, to be energized by having people to talk to, to have more energy to get "-ized", by having exhausting chores like dressing and medicine all handled by deft young hands, I’ve also been prepared for this adjustment to take some little time. I need not have gotten so prepared. She called last night - late - full of the most coherent talk and chatter I’ve heard from her in years. She had had the most fun. Everyone was so nice. She’d eaten lunch alone, but gone outside afterwards .... something she hasn’t done in years! ... and found some folk sitting by the "Sunshine Wall" and she invited them to sing songs with her and there was a man who flirted with her and "Oh I always seem to attract the men, you know" and dinner was delicious and she’d shared it with friends and then she’d gotten lost in the hallways severaly times and people would help her find her way back home again ... She even called it "going back home."

That phonecall did so much to help me step lightly past the pity pools and nostalgia traps that line the path of any child who makes a parent undergo drastic changes. Each minute away from Monday afternoon takes me deeper into the meadow of relief and happiness. There are still unknowns up ahead, but that dreadful given - that my parents were going to crash into a horrible end - has been averted. Whatever sort of future they have will at least include physical safety for Mom and that is enough for any child to provide for her parent.

Those of you who have followed the saga - who have loved me and prayed for me and held visions of such a solution for me - you can know that it has all come to pass. No thanks in the world would be enough - except that no thanks are needed. But all the thanks I have are flowing right back at you in huge tickling waves.

Life is good.


posted by Bess | 7:32 AM