so, that’s how it is

I’m standing by the kitchen window, looking out at the trees and the pure blue sky, drinking hot chocolate and eating challah smeared with Smart Balance. My daughter’s voice drifts in from the living room, where she is reading a book to my grandson, who is sprawled on the couch nursing a fever and a cold. The book is one I bought her when she was a child — “Grandma and Machek,” about a Polish grandmother who tells her granchildren the story of her living in Poland as a little girl and how her friend Machek (who became their grandfather) outwitted a wolf. They are doing a home school unit on making a family tree, and we have just finished looking at two fading photograpsh of my 1940s extended family — one that includes more than 50 people. I showed him the ones who came over through Ellis Island. He is interested in every detail.
Such is my life without care(giving).
But in a few minutes, I will be leaving to go back to the turmoil of the other part of my family, where my mom, who is in her nightgown day and night, needs better care than she is getting when I’m not there.
I visited a nursing home yesterday that’s located 1.3 miles from my daughter’s house and has a secure dementia unit with an enclosed outdoor courtyard. The bedrooms are big and sunny, with room for personal furniture etc. Unless my brother hires someone to come in and help with my mom during both this transition of my leaving and my actual departure, I will fight him for her guardianship and power of attorney. She deserves better than she gets from him; and I just can’t give any more. I could see myself volunteering at the nursing home a couple of mornings a week and visiting her several days a week, at least until she gets acclimated.
My brother wants her, but doesn’t know how to give her the kind, patient, consistent care that she needs. I just want to see her get good care. And I need to take care of myself for a change.
And that’s how it is, as I go from this place of peace to that place of war. It never had to be this way, but that’s how it is.

5 thoughts on “so, that’s how it is

  1. Your Mom’s need must be extremely stressful for you. I think you are a very good daughter and are doing your best to care for her. This is one of the saddest parts of growing old. It is hard on the elder and on the family when loss of independence occurs. I will think of you and send good thoughts of strength your way.

  2. It must be so difficult to know where to insist, persist, plow through, relent, compromise, subside, surrender, accept defeat. There isn’t a formula in this sort of situation, is there? All the best for you and your family. I hope your mother finds the care she needs, either from your brother or from the new home.

  3. i hope you have really made your peace with yourself over all of this.
    BECAUSE YOU ARE DOING THE RIGHT THING!
    you have given everything you can
    and now it is time to let go
    i hope that you can get her in close to you, because you need that security.
    isn’t it strange the battles we end up fighting in this life; usually not the ones we think.
    my thoughts and prayers are with you.
    xoxoxox

  4. I just erased this once by accident; it should demonstrate how hard this issue is for me even to write about.
    I know just how you feel but I also am enormously impressed by how you have handled it. Our mother spent her last years in a state far from all of us, with expensive fly-in weekend visits when we could afford it all we had with her. It was hard when we were there; even harder when we weren’t.
    You are so blessed that your relationship with your daughter offers such partnership and support. It’s clear how good it is for you, and that your grandson is the beneficiary of so much because of it. AND that you have more than earned the peace of those moments, even as you still must move into that other, more difficult sphere. How great that you have this to return to!
    Please take credit for all you have done as you work toward this resolution and, I hope, have a wonderful holiday.

  5. This is sad, and I agree with the others that you have and are doing all you can. You have to take care of yourself before you can care for others, and you’ve done this a long time. I know this has to be hard for you. My thoughts are with you.

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