Sunday, May 04, 2008

I'm off tomorrow.

I've gone back and forth to my mother's house and the nursing/rehab center yesterday and today. I could have slept over at the house last night, but Girl was working a 12 hour shift and I felt sorry for the dogs - and sorrier for me, because that house is just not comfortable. It never has been. It's just off - the chairs in front of the TV have no back support, the couch is hard as a park bench and way across the room, the lighting is poor, it's It's a very nice house, immaculately maintained, lovely floorplan, beautiful community, but though they lived there over 10 years, you'd swear they were just renting the place and had arranged what they had the best way they could, instead of decorating properly and using the space the way it was designed.

I'm not saying that they should have blown their money on all new furniture for the hell of it, but keeping stuff just because "it's still nice" is not necessarily the right choice for comfort or convenience. The furniture is not cheap and broken down by any means, but it was always meant to be "formal living room" stuff, and it always drove me nuts that my back would hurt after a visit. It's all between 30 and 60 years old, and looks like new because nobody could get comfortable on it, so it never got worn down. It could not have been pleasant to live with uncomfortable and overly formal and oddly arranged stuff for a decade*, and I never understood why they did it when they had ample money to make themselves comfortable. (Yeah, I do know - they were Depression Babies.) So I slept there one night and since then I've been commuting, because my back and my psyche wanted my own bed at the end of these hard days. I am far from rich, but at least my furniture doesn't make my back hurt. I will go back on Tuesday, and then maybe Friday? Depends on whether I get any useful information in the interim.

*Wow, I just had a realization - my parents NEVER had a comfortable family room, even when they had a house with a family room. I suddenly had flashbacks all the way back, there was never a comfy floppy sofa or comfy chairs, not when I was growing up, and not in the house before this one. I used to hang out in my room a lot as a teenager, my bed and little b/w TV were far easier on my back, even then. Then, when they moved, they took the stiff, formal stuff (the Good Furniture) with them, and supplemented it with a pair of "TV chairs" that had no back support or butt support, even when new. I really do wonder now if my parents ever had the experience of flopping on the comfy couch. Not in my 50 year lifetime, so I'm guessing never. And that makes me sad - and also makes me wonder why I didn't turn out like them. Grateful, but puzzled, you know?

My mother is in assisted living for rehab. It's a nice place as those places go, spotless and well run, tons of very nice staff, still depressing. It was hard for me to go into the place, it brought back memories of the end of my husband's life in a similar facility, and also reminded me that there but for the grace of God I'd be one of the several women around my age sitting in a wheelchair in a similar place right now.

I can't tell what's going on with her, she does not seem desperately ill by any means, but she's not steady on her feet and she has moments of confusion. Maybe in a few days we'll have a better idea of what's going on, but I am on a two week countdown until I start the new job, and I'm trying not to think about how hard this is going to get. I'm trying to keep the stress at bay, just work each problem as it arises. My mother has always been challenging - her anxiety and other issues are not new, she's been this way my entire life - and I have to remind myself to detach when she starts ranting and accusing the staff, etc. This isn't Alzheimer's, it's just her personality; she's anxious, paranoid and can go from sweet and kind and thoughtful to mean and irrational in a heartbeat. She did it to me again today, and I let it get to me, but I also worked the problem and got her settled down. I'm not going over tomorrow, she is aware of this, but I know I will get several upset and upsetting phone calls. Breathe, breathe....

Thanks to the travel element, this is right up there with the end of my husband's life on the stress-o-meter, except my mother does not appear to be dying and could be around in this shape for years. Or get better. Or get worse. Don't know.

I begged my father to address this potential situation for many years - move closer to me, make arrangements, etc. His response was "She'll be fine." She never WAS fine, so that was crap, but I had no power to make anything happen. So now I'm living the nightmare scenario I'd tried my best to prepare for, and I have no backup and finite resources and health risks of my own, and oh yeah, a new job. As I was driving back from her house I briefly considered heading for Florida National Cemetery to stomp on my father's grave and yell, "SONOFABITCH, I TOLD YOU THIS WOULD HAPPEN!" But I was too tired.

I've decided that I really want to be a Kept Woman. I want to marry someone who will say those wonderful words identified by the Sweet Potato Queens: "Let me take care of this." I haven't had that in...I'm not sure I ever had it. My husband and I had a good working partnership, but I certainly wasn't taken care of. He's gone, life goes on, problems pile up, and I am the person designated to Take Care of It. I am tired. I want to be Kept.

But of course, I'm also too tired to work on shaping up the Requisite Trophy Wife Ass tonight. Naah. I will at least do yoga. Tomorrow I will get up and out to walk at 6:30. I haven't walked in a week, since this hit the fan, and I miss it so much. Plus, I have a mission now - I need to work on the Trophy Wife Ass, because I'm tired of being Superwoman.


Bess said...

Oh la - How I wish you could move her into AL in Orlando. At least you'd be spared the 4 hour drive.

Glad you have these 2 weeks but gladder you have that company paycheck afterwards.

Hope that new moon wish comes true.

sallyjo said...

I've been walking about ten days, and have noticed my ass is getting better. It isn't trophy quality yet, but there's time!
And yeah. Go to the cemetery. I've yelled at enough people/ patches of ground in my life. I'd like to hear of someone else doing it. (he was right- she is fine - you're taking care of it.)

Amy in StL said...

I think that some people just prefer firm furniture. I'm not saying this is your parents case; but at my parents house the couch and loveseat are firm even after 20 years of people sitting on them. They get new furniture when you start to sink in. I'm that way too. I hate my boyfriend's new leather couch because I get a backache from sinking into the soft leather surface. I have a firm couch which he hates because you don't sink into it.

Hmmm, I wonder if this means we shouldn't ever move in together?

Catherine said...

I don't know that they really preferred the firm furniture, because they rarely sat on it either! It's more like being unable to give up the concept of the "formal living room" the room nobody uses, even in a house that didn't have a formal living room space. They took that furniture with them and still rarely sat on it. The chairs they used most often for watching TV are the opposite - so little support they hurt, too.

Anonymous said...

Keep in mind that you could only endure about two minutes of being a Kept Woman before you'd belt him around the head. :-p

I do know what you mean though... sometimes it would be nice if someone else could be in charge - even for an hour.


dragon knitter said...

boy howdy, do i understand! sometimes it feels like hubbie thinks i should take care of it all because i don't work. except now it's my mom, and his parents (his dad was recently diagnosed with alzheimer's and parkinson's), and our youngest son (he has aspergers, and allt he behavioral problems that come with it). last monday was the last straw. the son was acting up, and my mom had TWO doctor's appointments (i'd done it intentionally to avoid too many trips running around (they're in the same building, thank god), and hubbie calls and says "i'm done. come get him."

i couldn't, and we ended up with a huge fight, because there are days i feel like i'm alone in all this. with my mom, my youngest brother is in georgia, and the other one doesn't give a damn (even though his wife doesn't work either!) with his parents, most of the siblings live to far away, except one brother, and he's distant at the best of times (and yes, his wife doesn't work either!).

anyway, i hear ya. and yeah, you can go yell at your dad. (i don't blame my dad, btw, he didn't know that my brother would decide to drop out of my mother's life so completely (mostly because of me!))