Thursday, August 07, 2008

The tissues are too scratchy. And I need socks.

Yeah, I'm so glad they gave my mother the 2 units of blood, it perked her right up so she can be a pain in the ass again. The above was delivered in two separate phone calls, and on the surface, it appears so reasonable and innocent, you must think I'm a bitch right now for even mentioning it.

But the first was the voicemail message at 9. The tissues, they are too scratchy. (My mother has a fixation about tissues and rubbing her nose, it's one of her many charming quirks.) I might have bought this one, except in my two visits over the weekend I actually had reason to sample one of the offending paper products, and they are name brand quality, not institutional sandpaper. But they don't say Kleenex on the box, so they are inferior. When are you bringing them? I need them? When are you coming over? I really do need them!

Oookay. That hit voicemail, I was working. Later I happened to see her name on caller ID (ringer is off) and figured I'll pick up, it's so much easier to get it over with at the office when I still have some energy. This time, her tone was pitiful - she needs not just Kleenex, but also Socks. She has, by my count, at least 9 pair on hand, all labeled with her name. This is like the phone charger that keeps going missing, and only I can find it for her. I know where it is, the staff carefully puts it in the drawer under the nice big TV (with the socks). It's like the phone that she dropped and it was broken and I had to come see it, even though she called me on it and it works just fine. Anyone else old enough to remember the original SNL, and the Landshark? Yeah, it's like that. I expect "Candygram," any day now.

I know she's sick, I know she's in a nursing home, I know I'm turning myself inside out to deal with it. I know she's getting really good care, I know they have activities she refuses to join in, the staff is nice, she is in spite of herself making friends with other residents, but her ultimate, true goal is to follow in her mother's footsteps and consume her daughter's life in her old age. Oh, cruel, cruel fate, that my husband died and I can't afford to drop everything and be available at her beck and call now! She has said as much - that it's so unfair that I am so overworked and stressed with other things that I can't do what I really want to do, which is devote myself to HER. (Even though I saw this coming when I was 10 years old and never, ever planned to play along, said as much, and never gave her any reason to hold onto these delusions.)

So I picked up, and said yeah, you have lots of socks, but if you need more I'll put them on your list. I didn't get pinned down to when I will visit, because I am not at her beck and call. (I'm sure I'll stop by this weekend, and I will bring socks, because I can humor her for $4 and Wal-Mart is right around the corner.) She promptly turned snotty and snippy and said, "Oh, okay, you just WORK then. I'll just hang up now!"

Uh, yeah, I've got somewhere around $300 million in project due diligence shit on my desk, and in my spare time I'm dealing with all the other issues, trying to figure out how to fix your finances that your sainted husband, my father, left inadequate and fucked up, and my own life is currently FUBAR, and my kids have problems not of their making too, and I'm sorry I can't drop everything and pretend to give a shit because the box of tissues doesn't say Kleenex. I'm a bitch. Bad daughter. But in the course of all the order-giving and attempts at manipulation, she did say lunch was delicious, and obviously she's feeling good if she has the strength to continue her ongoing quest to crawl up my ass and devour my internal organs.


Bess said...

Oh I wish you could just laugh at your mother when she says those mean things - and say "yep - I am going to work and do other important things" and then just hang up. But somehow it's not so funny when it's in your face. You know - you aren't required to visit your mother every week. Not written in the daughter manual. Not in the Florida code book either. Just some fantasy she cooked up.

Hope you get some fun this weekend.

Catherine said...

Oh, she's a mile past the mall I need to visit anyway, and dropping by on the weekend isn't a big deal. It's the demanding, insistent tone of the calls that makes me crazy - not "Hey, next time you visit could you bring me...." but "I NEED! NOW!!!!" She got mad because I didn't see the gravity of her Kleenex Krisis. It's not because she's old, it's how she gets when she doesn't get her way. She will settle down when I don't take her calls, and behave when I see her on Saturday or Sunday, and next week it will start all over again.

The thing that gets me is that she could never, would never, do everything I do every day, on top of everything I've been through, and yet I'm still supposed to want to make myself available for her on demand. She never even babysat my kids, and I'm supposed to babysit her. Yeah.

carlarey said...

Honey, use this site and vent, vent, vent. That's the only way you will stay sane.

My grandmother had a temper fit one day because she hadn't been able to get in touch with my mother immediately, and told her to get rid of the phone, she didn't aim to pay for it if Mother wasn't going to answer. Mom said okay, yanked the plug out of the wall and took it home with her. The evenings were so much more peaceful after that, and she learned not to make those temper fueled suggestions.

Janet said...

Doesn't she worry that your brain might pop again from stress? You think she'd be a tad concerned about your health as well.

I did have to laugh at the thought of her calling from the phone that she said was broken.

Catherine said...

Carla - I do something similar. Make an irrational demand and your calls will not be returned. It works to a degree, but she has a vision in her head that I am secretly dying to be her beloved daughter/personal slave, and that is not and never has been so. I am the responsible party, I have power of attorney, I will not let her be mistreated, I will make sure the doctors are listening to the best of my ability, I will bring what she actually needs, but a brand of tissues she doesn't recognize doesn't constitute mistreatment, and I do have other issues and other shit to do!

Yeah, calling from the phone that is "broken" - several times, and then talking to me on the same phone while insisting it may be broken and I must come check. Today it was a random message that she had something Important to tell me, too important to impart over the phone. The next call was a hangup.

Last night she was the star of a nightmare that woke me at 2:30 - she was a demanding, insisting horror movie like creature pretending to be a helpless toddler, while my actual child (my son in a cameo role as a toddler) nearly fell to his death while I was tending to her. I have one damn literal subconscious. Then my brain started running through project due diligence, and I woke up exhausted.