Sunday, December 07, 2014

My Day

Most days.
Wake up.
Head to the bathroom.
Feed the fish.
Raise one of the blinds.
Make breakfast.
Be as quiet as possible.
Hear the sound of the mommy waking up and heading to the bathroom.
Turn on the TV.
She gets dressed and heads for the recliner.
Raise the other two blinds.
Fool around on the computer while she either sleeps or watches TV.
On bath day, help her get in the shower and wait close by until she's done to help her out.
Set up her breakfast stuff so she can get her breakfast.
Hang out with her while she eats.
Clean up kitchen.
Make bed.
Take shower.
Make communications (email, phone) regarding the move and assorted projects for making life work.
Clean, do laundry, take the trash out (almost every day) (try to get her to go too so she gets some exercise).
Listen to the same three lines from three or four songs over and over.
Answer the same questions over and over.
Make dinner.
Clean up.
Put on my pajamas. Turn down the bed. Lay her nightgown on the bed.
Watch TV.
Wait while she brushes her teeth and gets into her pajamas.
Tuck her in.
Feel gratitude for friends who stop by and help.

In the year and a half since I've been here I've used the dishwasher about 6 times. Now I use it once a week, usually on Sundays. It feels like getting a break from dish washing. Every day there are things that don't get done. Every night I lay awake listing the things still I need to do. I am no doubt a little bit hyper. Things will probably settle down. Her new place is nice and her furniture should arrive in a week or so. By February many things will be in place that will make things easier and she'll be at her place for part of the week.
It's not bad. There have been days where things slipped off the rails. Stacked up. Overwhelmed. But it's not too bad.
The only really not good thing is I haven't read a thing in weeks. Combination of lighting and her singing and talking and the TV and just being so bleepin tired.
No swimming yet.
All the problems will be solved.
Sooner or later.
One way or another.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Our Black Firday

A fair amount of Mom's stuff will be auctioned off tonight. The very lovely people who helped us to clear the house sent me a link to the auction site. Seeing her stuff lined up brought tears to my eyes.
There's nothing particularly valuable. There's a dining set that she loved. Her "good" dishes and glassware that she hasn't used in years. A bedroom set that she bought when I was a kid and she and I were sharing a bedroom at Grandma's house. Other random pieces of furniture and some paintings. It's her stuff. It was the stuff I saw at her house. All of her houses. It doesn't matter that downsizing was the right thing to do. It feels creepy and sad to see it marked for sale. I didn't expect to see this until Mom had passed and in some ways it feels like a part of the inevitable moment of her leaving. I can't show her the site. She is struggling to process the loss as it is and for her it is loss.
The movers will be packing up her remaining belongings (and there are many) some of which will go to her new apartment, some of which will go into storage until we can process it and some of it is family heirloom stuff that will come to me. It's funny to use the word heirloom in reference to our family stuff. None of it is valuable, except in terms of sentiment.
Mom and I have very different styles. Her stuff was nice but it wasn't anything I would have chosen.I never wanted it. I am getting the things I wanted and she still has plenty of stuff. So the tears in my eyes aren't really about stuff. Or loss of stuff. It's about knowing that she is sad about the changes in her life and knowing I can't do anything about that. And knowing I will never again visit her and see that particular stuff. It's about change and endings. And beginnings. And uncertainty.
Other than a few odds and ends I have everything I'll ever really want. Obviously I'm going to want more books. My electronics will become obsolete. Some of them already are. But I am not drawn to shop. Neither is she. My stuff is less valuable than her's in monetary terms. But I have little plastic animals from cocktails that make me smile. Matchbooks and sand dollars. Dishes and dolls. I look around and see my life in my stuff. And that was true for her.
Oak Street is still full of shoppers. Oak Street is all small business so I'm not hating it. Mom is entertained by the constant parade of people.
Consumerism is a plague but we buy stuff. We collect stuff. Our stuff has meaning. I imagine the auction is almost over and someone is happy that they got a great price on dining room set.      

Sunday, November 23, 2014


When you're on the plane the stewards do the safety drill. They say if you are traveling with a small child and the oxygen mask drops down put your own on first. It's a really perfect metaphor about the need to care of oneself so you will be able to take care of anyone else. It's the kind of metaphor that could be used in any self help seminar.
There are two commercials in heavy rotation right now. An adult with watery eyes and a runny nose leans into a room, apologizes for disturbing but they need to take a sick day. The camera then turns to a small child. When you have a baby, or a child the whole self care thing falls apart. There are no sick days. You take care of your children when you're sick and too tired and emotionally drained.
Both of these things are true. You can't take care of anyone if you aren't taking care of your self. And there are times when you're going to take care of the other when you should be taking care of yourself.
Caring for an eighty-eight  year old mother with an increasingly foggy brain is similar. A silly example of this happened on the plane. Mom usually sleeps when she is on a plane but there were kids behind her moving around, banging into the seat. She was struggling with her emotions. She was worried about her future. I reached over to hold her hand. Her purse was between us and my book was leaned against it. The corner of the book was digging into my wrist but I could move it because she was finally drifting off and I didn't want to disturb her.  I wasn't in danger or in terrible pain but I was uncomfortable and unable to read my book.
When I am around Mom she dictates our day, what we watch on TV, what we eat and how I cook it (no garlic). She sings when I'm trying to read. She doesn't want to go out. I've written about the mommy cut for my hair and the removal of the nose stud (she still hasn't said a thing). All of this is no big deal for a three month visit but now she lives with me. At some point she will have her own apartment in an assisted living facility but she will always spend time in The Nest. I'm going to need to find some balance.It's just not going to be easy and it is going to require constant reassessment.
Mom has always been central in her own narrative. I was raised by someone who was central in her own narrative. My narrative was tangential to hers. It's hard to explain the mechanics of how her strong sense of entitlement calls out my urge to do her bidding. To keep her happy. It began so young. The minute I grew up I moved to the opposite side of the country. I have always known that space was needed for out relationship to function at all. Now everything is different.
I'm not all torn up or overwrought. I am just aware.
I mean.
She sleeps.
A lot.
I will be OK.
I imagine it will change me and I'm hoping I become more loving and patient and not a resentful ball of self pity. I'll be sorting and processing like super computer.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


In my last post I said something about thinking the moving the mommy project would happen fast. I had no idea. We'll be back in the Hood on Thursday. There is a couple who have a "senior services"company and they have been amazing. They have so many resources and they've made time for us. They've been here for hours taking care of things. I couldn't have done this physically or emotionally without them. In some ways I'm still recovering from my own move. And hours on the Internet could not have yielded the resources they have. And they are lovely people.
I'm not sure what exactly to call the mommy's brain fog. But the hard part has been answering the same questions forty times a day. And her emotions, many of which are normal for an 88 year old person moving across the country. But she lashes out. I'm pretty good at diffusing things and I am pretty patient but it has been tough and will continue to be. My life will be differnt.
It will be better to have her closer.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Moving The Mommy

Mom has very fixed ideas, one of which is about how long a woman should wear her hair at a certain age. Four or five years ago my hair was long. Down to my butt. I enjoyed it. And I liked rebelling against the idea that I should have short hair. But the year after her husband died I decided to cut my hair as a Christmas gift. I buy her a frog calender and some chocolate frogs every year but there's isn't anything much I can give her. I don't really care how long my hair is and it makes her really happy to see mine short. Every year I get the mommy cut.
I also take the tiny stud out of my nose when we are together. This year I forgot. I was sitting at the kitchen table chatting with her when I remembered. She hadn't even noticed and still hasn't.
I've been trying to talk her into moving to Hood River for awhile now. The week before I came she said she would never leave her house. I figured I'd spend the next three months arguing with her.
The day I arrived, before I had my coat off, she announced she was moving to Hood River.
I have no idea what changed her mind.
I waited though the weekend to see if she'd change again. On Monday I called an assisted care facility and they just happened to have a one bed room apartment available. Someone came later that day who also wanted it so our timing was perfect.
It's all very good but a bit nerve wracking. Mom has a ton of stuff to go through. Lots to down size. Lots to pack. We will have time but I feel like it might happen really fast. We might be back in the Hood for Christmas.
It will be easier to take care of her there. There will also be new challenges.
Funny thing. I dragged a stack of books and a pile of magazines here. I'll probably be dragging them all back home.    
Oh. And there's a frog calendar, wrapped for Christmas, in my back pack. It will be traveling back as well.        

Monday, November 10, 2014

To Be Clear

This is a response to comments by Daniel in my last post.
I used the term disordered eating in a post recently. I was being a bit sarcastic although I do feel that in the last ten or more years of trying to have less pain after eating I've become a bit crazy in terms of food. Daniel says disordered eating is the cause of obesity. My version of disordered eating has resulted in weight loss because there have been times when I have been afraid to eat. Anyone thinking the resulting weight loss is a good thing ignores the physical and emotional misery I've experienced. All of this may have been about the gallstone and the gall bladder both of which are gone. My digestive system seems to be healing but I'm still a bit nervous.
For me it was the emotions around food that felt disordered. Not the quantity or quality of what I was eating. I eat really well both in terms of quality and quantity. I am more thoughtful about what I eat because I'm older. My digestive system is older. That's probably true for many people of every size.
I am not sure why Daniel chose a post about the difficulty of traveling when airlines make seats smaller than ever and charge fat people for two seats and having a bum knee and needing help with getting across a huge airport to write a comment about weight loss. My weight may have contributed to the wear and tear in my knee. I imagine it did. Standing on it for hours in my working life probably also contributed. When only fat people need knee replacements then we can say there is a direct and absolute relationship. And if that's true ... so what?
I don't really like the term size acceptance. I don't have to make a special effort to accept that I have brown eyes. Why should I have to make a special effort to accept that I am fat?
Oh. Wait. Because other people have lost weight so I should too.
Um. No.
There are people in the size acceptance who would shun Daniel for choosing to diet and lose weight. I am not one of them. I ask people to respect the choices I make for my body. I will respect theirs. If being fat causes a person to worry about their health and a negative impact on their quality of life (by their terms) then dieting is a course of action. If it works for you, go for it.
I have no wisdom about addiction.  Even  with things like cigarettes, drugs and alcohol I watched friends struggle much more than I did when it was time to quit. Food addiction is problematic because you can't not eat. You need to eat to live. It's not something I experience so any judgements I make are hollow.  
I am not addicted to food.
I don't have a defeatist attitude about weight loss. I simply have no interest. I'm interested in living an authentic life. I am fat. If I lose weight as a result of illness that's OK. I'm not trying to be fat. I just am. It's not shameful. It just is.
It is a political identity because there is weight based discrimination.
I am sad when people talk about food as if it is dangerous and themselves as "bad" for wanting to eat. I argue for a shift in those ideas, which includes the idea that a person might be fat if they eat what they want. It seems healthier to me. But lives are complex. I can't really know what's best for another person.              
Daniel has been very kind about my writing. But he has never really understood what I'm saying. I may not be articulating things as well as I hope I am. My disordered eating riff was in no way a milestone. I was a bit of a joke. Why should Daniel get what I'm saying? I have friends who I have known for years who don't get it.
Oh well.  

Sunday, November 09, 2014

The Shot

I wrote a post last year about how great travel can be when you have a mother who has money.  Two seats in economy comfort works best for me. It's not really that comfortable but it's OK. I can't imagine having less leg room. I could never afford two seats.
I have always been resistant to AMA medicine. I would still rather do anything alternative. The gall bladder surgery was AMA and needed to be. And I get the cortisone shots for my knee, one of which I got right before I left for Asheville. The doctor said I was more likely to throw a clot during flight so soon after the surgery. Other than some pings and throbs I had no trouble. It was the cortisone that made a huge difference.
In the past few years part of any experience included worry about pain. Walking from the car to the check in desk could be excruciating. It's always hard to figure out which line to stand in and you almost always need to stand for some amount of time. I get a wheel chair but the wheel chair doesn't get there until you check in. It would be better if they met you at the curb. This time my knee held up through it all. AMA drugs. Not so bad. I would not have made it through the terminal but the wheel chair got me through.
In Atlanta I deboarded and was left in the wheel chair at the gate. I had a flight to catch at the other end of the airport. I needed to use the bathroom. I sat there. Helpless. A young woman finally came and took me but was on her way out the door. She left me at the gate. I had enough time to get myself   to the bathroom with my walker and my drugged up knee made it possible to do with out much pain. When I came back the wheel chair was gone. I got to the plane with my walker. It worked out but it always feels so precarious. Needing help. It feels terrible.
I had some really sharp knee pain in flight. I always wonder why. But there is no doubt the shot makes a huge difference.
Mom with money enough to buy two seats and cortisone. Good. Nothing to protect me from being stranded in a wheel chair on the wrong end of an airport but ...
It seems like it should be ... something. More caring? More efficient? More better.