I just returned from spending a week with my eighty-year-old mom. To say it was depressing is an understatement. Imagine a hermit crab washed up on the beach upside down, burnt to a crisp by the sun and crinkled into a nub, powerless to flip over, trapped in its shell. That’s how I felt after a week in her house.
The blinds were drawn in a gloomy nod to isolation. The thermostat was set to 85 degrees, about the same temperature as outside. To save on the a/c bills, she said. There was little food in her brand-new refrigerator and she was pencil-thin. Not hungry, she insisted as I pled with her to eat more.
She is still very independent, but her hearing, eyesight, and patience have deteriorated to a muddled mass of confusion. Plus, to complicate matters, she is firmly in denial. As far as she is concerned, she can drive, she can hear just fine with her hearing aids, (I get enough to understand! So what if I miss a few words? Huff, huff, mad face). If she cannot hear people on the phone, she simply hangs up on them. In the meantime, to communicate with her, I must yell my brains out. She seems to think this is normal, appropriate behavior.
I’ve been back in my snug little house a week now. I’m trying – really hard – to flip right-side-up and uncrinkle. But it’s amazing how this particular visit sliced through my best intentions like a Ginsu knife. I reverted to a selfish brat intent on proving my decisions were better than her decisions, nanny-nanny-boo-boo. And in most cases, they actually were, but my attitude was not exactly stellar. Continue reading