I received a phone call today. My 84 year-old mother will be moving tomorrow morning! She will be transferred to a different, nursing facility, which is closer to where my father has been living.
Although they will not be sharing a room together, now they will get to see each other every day!
My parents have not been together for the last six months, since my mom fell and broke her shoulder. In a few months, they will celebrate sixty years of marriage.
Since my mom’s illness, my father has weakened considerably. He lost his driver’s license a month ago. When he was on his way to see my mom in the hospital on the day she fell, he caused an accident. Fortunately, he wasn’t hurt. He failed a retest that was required of him.
My father’s depression and withdrawal has made any visits to see my mother very difficult for him. Seeing my mother in the hospital was too traumatic for my father. He made just a few visits. This was from a man who liberated a concentration camp in World War II. He never, ever talks about that.
My father has said to me so many times, “If your mother lived at the same facility where I am, I could do so much for her!”
Here’s the ultimate irony. My lonely father doesn’t realize how much my mother could do for him! He has been so lonely, and does nothing but sleep all day. It might help him to focus on her care once again.
My mom has recovered a lot during these months since her discharge. She has been working very hard at physical therapy, and can walk slowly using a walker again.
However, she is off-balance and it has become clear that she will never again be in a more independent setting. She requires nursing care to be safe.
My mother has not adjusted well to being dependent.
Her sadness has translated to anxiety and worry. It has been a slow and imperceptible march. Her forgetfulness and searching for words has also been steadily increasing. Because I’ve been also recovering in my own way over these months, I was fairly oblivious.
Until one day it dawned on me. Her entire personality had changed!
Some days, I wake up and try to remember how she used to be. My revelation that a personal caregiver would help her was fairly recent. Even though it isn’t helpful, I have “beaten myself up,” for not thinking of it sooner.
For a very long time, I’ve operated on the mode of not being able to afford things. I’m frugal in many ways, but not in others. I’ve done whatever has been necessary to help my children. Finally I’ve realized that as the parent now to my own parents I must step up!
My mother’s new caregiver is very kind and loving. She will actually give my mom back her independence! Now my mother can have outings to buy cards or items she might want. She won’t be afraid of “upsetting” her nurses.
During my mother’s hospitalization, if I had a caregiver like the woman I just hired on Sunday – well, I’d be far less the shell I was at the end!
It would have been helpful to have another caregiver when my mom was hospitalized. I was usually the only one visiting my mom; I went every, single day to see her and sometimes more than that. During a very difficult part of my mom’s hospitalization, my two brothers were on vacation for ten days.
I believe I am suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome. My entire existence was devoted to my mother’s survival while in the hospital. She was on a respirator, due to complications after having surgery to repair her broken shoulder.
I was my mother’s main link to survival. I can say that with certainty.
However, it was exhausting and being in a hospital daily reignited a lot of my traumatic memories. That was when I started to unravel.
Before writing this story, I went back to look at the emails I sent out. I thought it might inspire me. I pasted those emails onto a document. My email messages consisting of only my words totaled eighty-one pages over just twenty days.
A good friend told me that my desperation was palpable. She described me as “a woman on the edge, about to lose it.”
She was right. I was in a pit of despair and pain. My messages became increasingly emotional. One moment I was angry; another moment I was ecstatic. I was clearly falling apart.
Someday, I might write a book about that experience. But it is still too soon. I believe detachment is necessary to write something that uncovers the insight. I waited eighteen years to write about my son’s death!
I may still write more in this blog about my experience from November through January. I’m not sure.
My mom was discharged from the hospital on January 26, 2010. I started my blog three weeks after that.
I need to continue writing. It is necessary for my sanity.
Yet, I have found some insight about all this during one of my hypnotherapy sessions. That insight was that I never would have thought it was possible four months ago that my life could be what it is today.
Just a little less than four months ago, I was a shell!
Today, when I received this exciting phone call, I wasn’t jumping with joy. I was very relieved, but it didn’t register.
Trauma is like a puddle of fuel within my gut. The “trauma fuel” lurks and it seeps into my soul, where it can be reignited arbitrarily.
My mother is on a journey, too. Therein lies my sadness that is mixed with joy.
She is moving to her final destination. I am very grateful that she will now have my dad to share life with her again. I am sobbing as I write this!
Watching my parents “deteriorate,” for lack of a better word, has been so excruciating. My parents were my support and my rock. With them, I could always feel unconditionally loved and safe – I was still a child. Of course, I still feel their love and I’m so fortunate to have them!
But at this juncture, they now depend on me very much. I have not yet settled into the new role that I’ve stepped into. With becoming their parent, comes another stark realization.
The day will come when I step into their role, and my children will assume what I am going through!
But I am jumping far, far ahead. My life is now a fairytale that I can hardly believe is real sometimes. Currently, I am savoring every, single day of my life.
I am tearful with extreme joy about my parents and their reunion.
I have no illusions about their new life closer together. My father is a control freak.
He will make my mom very upset when he organizes her purse. My mother will call my father constantly on his cell phone, and he will be very upset when she wakes him up from one of his many naps.
And I will continue to receive constant phone calls from both of them – as I do every day.
Both of them will complain about the other! My father will continue to tell me to “cut back” on my mother. He wants more time from me. I will continue to tell him, enough is enough!
Sometimes, I feel so impatient and heartless with my father. But then I remember many other children don’t speak with their parents every day. If I miss a day, my father is very sad. He counts on hearing about my life every single day!
One day, I am going to miss him very much. I know it.
I wish I could be so happy that I didn’t have tears.
© Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.