Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summer Vacation!

Remember that feeling you'd get as a kid, as you heard the bell ring at the end of the last school day of the year?

Summer!

I had that feeling today. We took my mother to a retirement residence for "respite" care, yesterday (my "respite" to make it clear). Today, I woke up as if released from prison.

OK, maybe not quite prison, but close.

I felt younger, happier, less tense and just plain looking forward to life.

She put up a fight, a good one, I'll admit. She grew more solemn and morose and martyred as the date drew near. She could barely carry herself into the place, and summoned tears when we left her, after a round of hugs and well-wishes for the next 6 weeks.

But today, she called me. Her voice sounded like my mother of old. She'd eaten well, made friends, and most amazingly, could hear me clearly on the phone.

Prior to this, she simply couldn't hear anyone on the phone, and would defer all calls to me, including pesky calls involving tasks that involved a bit of work on her part, like renewing prescriptions.

Today, though, I spoke in normal tones and she never missed a word.

What a fake.

Anyway, I'm on holidays for the summer, out of prison on a "get out of jail free" card. And I'm going to make the most of it.

Excuse me now, I have a glass of wine to drink...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

It's All Crap (Apparently)

My mother's imagined needs are numerous and pressing.

I take her places several times a week. All of these journeys are hugely important to her and they can't wait for anything. Nothing is more important, for example, than fetching her medication (and there is so very much of it), going shopping for clothing and/or shoes that is not needed, getting her hair done (every six weeks without fail, at the best place in town), or having the podiatrist clip her toenails.

My mother has been getting her toenails cut, at public expense, for at least 40 years now. It's a benefit she receives from her veteran's widow pension. (and yes, my father retired about 40 years ago...)

This week, her podiatrist appointment conflicts with Kathleen's graduation ceremony from elementary school.

This fact has caused me unending grief.

My mother has known about the graduation ceremony for at least two months now. The date has been written on my calendar, as has Alexander's graduation from middle school, a day earlier than Kathleen's.

Yet she scheduled a podiatrist appointment on the same day. Inevitably, this has become my problem.

Upon "realizing" the conflict, my mother began the harassment campaign.

Sally: "I need to change my podiatrist appointment so that I can attend Kathleen's graduation." (Translation: "you need to fix this problem for me.")

Me: (interrupted, as usual, as I try to work)"Go ahead, change it. You don't need to tell me every detail Mom."

Sally: (silent, shuffling.) "Well."

Long silence. (Translation: "You still need to fix this problem for me.")

Sally: "Will you call them?" (Sally doesn't like talking on the phone unless she likes talking on the phone. Then she has no difficulties calling anyone on planet Earth).

Me: "I am trying to work. I will call when I get a chance."

Now, as I mentioned above, Sally's needs are pressing, and immediate. They can't wait. So she stands and pesters.

She follows me and pesters. And she shoves herself in my way if I try to flee. I could be having a heart attack and trying to call an ambulance, and she'd keep yapping at me as she disconnected the emergency call, insisting her need is greater than mine.

It was a sunny morning, and I'd been waiting for weeks to do a bit of exterior painting. She followed me outside, and stood at the base of the ladder as I brushed white primer over a new patch of stucco at the side of our house. And she continued to pester.

I asked if perhaps she could trim her own toenails this month, eliminating the problem. Her mouth formed a perfectly round, completely shocked "O."

She couldn't even speak, so stunning a suggestion had I made. Mutely, she shook her head slowly back and forth, the mouth hanging open in the perfect O.

Me: "Well, I can call, but I doubt at this late juncture that you'll be able to get a replacement appointment for several months now, never-mind to another day this week."

She knew this, but didn't care. I needed to fix her problem for her and she would hound me to the depths of hell to achieve that end.

I called. They couldn't get her in. Sally hounded me more. I called again. They said they couldn't get her in, but that if anyone canceled at the last minute, she'd be the first they'd call.

I related these facts to Sally, then went downstairs to start my laundry, and overheard her calling them again (suddenly, she was able to make the call herself). She identified herself, and then in the most wheedling, sly voice you can imagine, asked yet again if they could somehow fit her in.

They obviously said no, and repeated that she was on the cancellation list, but I knew she'd call and pester them, and hound me, again, before the next hour was out.

I felt ill just thinking about it, I was so tired of carrying her vast weight around with me all the time.

More, on why It's all Crap (Apparently), To Be Continued...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

It's Kooky!

Today, the phone rang. I answered.

Me: "Hello?"

Voice: "Huh? Who is...Huh? I mean, whaaaa....oh. I think I have the wrong number."

Me: "Oh, OK, that's..."

Voice: (Strident, aggressive tone) "WHO is this?"

By this point, I've recognized Doris' voice (Anthony's mother).

Me: "Delia."

Voice: "Delia! What day is it?"

Me: "Wednesday."

Voice: "Are you coming here with Sarah and Jake?"

Me: "I don't know any Sarah and Jake."

Voice: "Uhhhhhh. What? Delia? WHICH Delia is this?"

Me: (thinking, "how many Delias do you know?") "Anthony's Delia."

Voice: (Hysterical laughter). "Oh my! I thought it was the other Delia!!!"

Me: "Ha."

Voice: "The reason I'm calling is that I lost my key."

Me: "That's not good."

Voice: "Oh, you sound so young!"

Me: "I wish I felt young."

Voice: "Tom is here, you know."

Me: "That's so nice." ( I have no idea who Tom is)

Voice: "Well. Really sorry to bother you."

Me: "Oh no problem. No bother at all. Bye."

Voice: "Bye."

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Summer Break?

My desk calendar tells me it's June.

And according to the accompanying picture, I should be indulging in, or at least planning to indulge in, summery things like swimming pools, decks and leisurely summer days.

I don't have a pool, but I do have a deck, and a cottage rented for a week in August, and a week in July we will dedicate to visiting friends in Toronto and taking the kids to see Niagara Falls. Which they never have. Me either.

But I can't get in the spirit. Anthony says I have General Malaise, which I've shortened to "GM" for use in our conversations.

Anthony: "You have General Malaise."

Me: "I know. I'm always tired and grumpy and rushed. I don't want to be this way."

Anthony: "So snap out of it." (That's the advice Anthony got from his doctor when he asked how to solve his growing insomnia problem).

Me: "I can't just snap out of it. Maybe I need vitamins. Does B12 solve GM?"

Anthony: "You think about things too much. Stop thinking." (which is more advice from his doctor, given when Anthony asked how he could turn his mind off at night, to avoid the insomnia).

That may be true. But I don't think it's the thinking, to be honest. I think my GM problem is caused by too much work.

My kids and my mother keep me hopping. I never have time for me. If I do have any time left over after catering to the kids and my mother, I use it doing fun things like patching walls and scrubbing mold off the deck chairs.

Thus the GM.

I've decided I need a break. I will get a bit of a break from my kids, when they visit with their father over the summer. But then there's my mother.

We tried to talk her into going back to Winnipeg for July and August, to visit my sister, and/or any of her friends still alive and with some faculties in place.

She refused.

We went back and forth for a month or two. She just didn't want to go.

So I booked her into a local seniors residence for the duration of the summer. She was content with this plan for two days, then announced to me today, that she really wanted to go to Winnipeg.

Me: "I thought you said you didn't want to go? We talked about it for several weeks, and you refused."

Her: "I'd like to see Eleanor."

Me: "But you told me she refused to have you stay with her. You got off the phone in tears and said you didn't want to talk about that option any more." (Eleanor is my older sister who lives in Winnipeg in grand retirement style. She had a very limited relationship with my mother before Sally came to live with me in Kookytown. And apparently she still doesn't want to see our mother.)

Her: (simpering look and voice) "Oh that. Well, maybe I could go for a few days. Poor Eleanor, she's all alone, you know."

Me: (rolling my eyes) "Yes, and we both know why don't we?"

My sister is divorced and estranged from virtually anyone she ever came in contact with. Including her own daughter.

Her: "Oh poor Eleanor..."

Honestly, I don't know how much longer I can last with Sally driving me mad. Madder than she is, at times.

I'm hoping this summer break will not only cure my GM, but shore me up for another long fall and winter in Kookytown.