Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Ties That Bind

Every once in awhile, a challenge comes along that I must meet head on. There is no way around it, I cannot ignore it or procrast- inate or deny. I cannot get angry at the unfairness of the challenge...instead the requirements are a balanced mind, body and spirit. And a lot of faith.

Such is the case with my aged mother.

Throughout her adult life, my mother was not able to trust anybody or anything, least of all members of her family. Very least of all her daughters. Over the past year, I was privileged enough to see another face of my mother. Much work, Reiki, and Shamanistic tools were used to bring out the love and compassion inside Mom that her life had taken from her.

But old habits die hard.

Because of her inability to trust her family...she began to trust strangers. Strangers had no baggage; they had never hurt her. And through her naivety, and through strangers' greed, my mother ended up making poor decisions, which cost her dearly, both financially and emotionally.

Now Mom is hospitalized, with little hope of ever living alone again. Her body is failing, she is on constant oxygen, her mind is cloudy...it is now up to her family to try and unravel the tangled skeins that, over the past year, Mom has allowed to complicate her life. She hid her deterioration well, and I think, proved to herself that she had the strength to live alone, as handicapped as she was.

But, oh my!

Mother told no one of her affairs. She allowed none of her daughters' to know the code for the Brinks Security System she installed. She gave the code to one of her neighbours, never telling the elderly lady that none of us knew it. And gave this neighbour no telephone numbers for any of us.

I want you to visualize Gray and I running about in all different directions, when we unlocked my mother's door, and the alarm went off...and we had no code! We did not even know who had set it, as it had been turned off. And where did the lady live who had the magic numbers?

When an alarm goes off, police and ambulance are notified. Because we could not turn the thing off, telephone calls from these places and the security places were coming in, not allowing us to call for help, interjecting into our attempts to call for help.

All the while, the security system whooped and whooped. It was mind-numbing. Neither of us could think. Believe me, we were relieved when the police arrived!

That nerve shattering event eventually, after about an hour of shrieking noise, worked itself out, as most things do. Her elderly neighbour had decided to set the alarm, not knowing about Mom's refusal to give any of us the password and code. The whole thing could have been averted, if Mom's secrecy and paranoia had not been allowed to take the upper hand.

Because Mom would never entertain the thought, would fight to the death anyone who even suggested it, of searching out care homes and placing her name on the reservation lists, as a precaution...it is now our job, her daughters' job, to find an Extended Care Living Unit, immediately, within two weeks. There are only two in her hometown, and neither of them have the resources to do good, thorough care. We may have to find a place outside of her hometown. If we can.

The truly confused elderly have no idea how difficult and heart-rending it is for their children to make these kinds of decisions, living decisions, for them. Especially when it is not appreciated by the parent, when accusations are the norm, instead of gratitude. Especially when there is no recognition from the parent about how difficult it is to find a home, where the care is impeccable. And, too, parents who hold their finances close to their chest, not letting anyone see how much money is available, make things far more difficult, because at this stage, the hospital stage, we now have to try and work our way through bits of paper and scrawled notes...to find out how much Mom can afford.

I don't know what the answer is. I have heard these stories about elderly parents over and over again, parents who become paranoid, sure that their offspring are planning to take over, and positive that their children would not have the ability to do so well. The policeman who answered the alarm call told us the fact that we had no information about codes and passwords was not unusual at all, when it comes to dealing with the elderly.

Because we have to fight my mother so hard, this ordeal becomes far, far worse. There is a tie to our parents, to my mother...a tie that binds, a tie on a rope that may fray, but that cannot break, just because she has now become unreasonable and paranoid. Even as confused as my mother is becoming...she still knows which buttons to push to make us feel like ogres.

But that tie to my mother is strong, as strong as I believe the tie is that my children have to me. I have learned a few things. I have learned that I must be responsible enough to find my own elder care, now, when I am still in control of my faculties. It is not something I will leave up to my offspring, Creator willing.

I have learned to believe that my children, however they may view the time when I will have to leave my home, will only want the best for me. I will put suggestions in place; long before I require their help, I will make sure they know where my financial information is.

I will keep the dialogue between my children and I open... no matter how much the subject might make them uncomfortable.

And I will tell them now, when I am still me, how much I love and trust them.

But I will also tell them...there may come a time when I am not me, when I become someone else entirely, when I may fight them all the way...on every little thing. And if that time comes, the ties that bind us to one another will not break. As irritating and confused as my Mother is, I still love her and still learn from her.

In the end, the ties only become stronger.

11 comments:

  1. I feel for you so much, Marion. Your words are so familiar, and yet I could never have said it the way you have.

    My FIL was of this same temperament. We finally had to move him to an Assisted Living home, because he kept trying to hurt us in his paranoia and anger. He was an angel with them.

    The main advantage we had was that I had been his POA for many years, had been paying all his bills, and knew about all his finances. All that was in place before his mind became so suspicious.

    I can only pray for you and your family as you deal with this horribly mixed up situation.

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  2. Marion, how awful for you all! My mother made all her arrangements a few years ago. Her care if she was not able to do it herself, funeral, everything. As morbid as it sounded then, we are grateful she did it and things will be taken care of. I count each day that she is still with us as a blessing. I will keep you and yours in my thoughts and prayers. Your friend........:-)

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  3. I will keep you in my prayers as well, Marion. Did you get my email with the BLOG VILLAGE interview questions? I know that your life is very busy right now, I just want to make sure that they got to you for when you have time to answer them.

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  4. How hard this all must be for you. Sending prayers that somehow things become smoother concerning all these hard decisions with your Mum, Marion.
    I also work with tarot cards although I`ve never tried a crystal ball, they seem fascinating :) Loved all the pics of them.

    All the very best to you in this new year...

    tea
    xo

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  5. It is always a difficult transition when the parent and the child eventually change roles. The parent does not want to loose control and the child does not want the control. The heart interferes with the mind decisions and the feeling of uncertainity and insecurity take over. The parent resents the knowing that they are no longer the person they were or wanted to be. Perhaps the parent - child bond was not as strong as either wished and wanted. We always think there will come a time when we can rectify the situation to become the bond we always felt we could have, and then time runs out.
    You have learned a very valuable lesson and this could be one of the things that your mother was here for to teach you and your sisters not to let your relationships with your childern get to the point it is with your mom.
    Give and Live love that is what you know can do. And when the time comes to let go you know you will have the ability to take the lessons from your mother and apply them to your life. And by example these lessons will follow to your kids and they will teach them to their kids.
    May the spirits guide you and give you comfort.
    Namaste

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  6. Elderly parents can often give the impression of not loving you but maybe that is similar to a reversion back to youth when children give out the same emotion. Looking after elderly parents is emotionally draining so be strong, as somethings said are often not meant.

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  7. DB, I know you will understand this situation well, since you and I discussed this before. You are truly an inspiration to me...I think of you a lot, as I work my way through this very rocky and treacherous path I'm following at the moment.

    Lorna, there was a time (a long time ago, now, lol) when I felt uncomfortable when my in-laws insisted on giving us their private information. I was very young then, and did not understand the importance of it.

    Preparation for this kind of thing would have left me much more time to spend with my mother, sharing what we still could, while we could. I am glad you are able to do that.

    Thank you for your kind thoughts, Tea. Have you tried the pendulum?

    For many years, I have felt this was precisely what my mother was here to teach us, Dave...and we have all taken the lesson to heart with our own children. How awesome your words are...they express what I feel so exactly!

    Thank you, Davem,for reminding me about payback time...certainly I well remember the youthful, critical years I went through. I have shrugged most of what Mom might say off (unless I'm tired, then I'll take it right on!)but there are now so many decisions about stuff none of us know about!

    I just take it one step at a time!

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  8. Marion how strong and loving you are. My mother ended her life much the same way, but it took your words to make me learn the lesson from it. Time to get my kids informed now of where to find my personal information.

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  9. I have to say I laughed because I could see you all in my mind's eye running around frantically but then I can understand the frustrations.
    I loved the pictures going with it, smartly chosen.
    Good luck to you my friend, I hope things settle down and get sorted out.

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  10. Kat, thank you...it means a lot to me to know that it helped someone.

    Hannalie, in hindsight, it's hilarious...we have laughed so many times about it...it will become one of those stories handed down to the grandkids!

    And laughter releases some of the tension.

    thank you Shanti!

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