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.