My husband and children and I have discussed this about two dozen times, since my mother moved in with us.
To our faces, my mother walks like she's 91 (which is her physical age).
This charade includes: (1) shuffling which is so loud it shuts out pretty much all the conversation in the room,
(2) shuddering due to the cold (temperature in the house set at 80 F.),
(3) shaking which is inevitably set off by some "upset" caused by someone asking her to lift a pinky, or contrarily, someone asking her to think about something other than her next hair appointment,
(4)"heart palpitations" (or "chest pains," depending on her mood) set off by someone suggesting she might not need to go to the hairdresser, and;
(5) A mighty heave every time she needs to get up from a chair. We're talking about tipping the house over here, by the way she grabs whatever's near, and makes it tip and groan and lean scarily on its side, all in the aid of helping her up.
Behind our backs, the charade disappears:
(1) Not only doesn't she shuffle, but she walks and RUNS like a lithe teenager, over our heads on the hardwood in the house..."run, run, run." (Us: "Who is upstairs? Can't be Granny! Someone is RUNNING!)
(2) Shuddering? Uh uh. She's often up all night, while we set the temp down to 17C. No prob staying up obsessing all night adding and re-adding her "assets." My mother adds and re-adds her columns of figures every second day. It's an endless fascination, apparently, to add the money up. It keeps the cold away. Some people have named this "Avarice," one of the 7 deadly sins.
(3) The last time she had one her "shaking" episodes (the implication is that one of us has SO upset her, she is shaking with the absolute horror of it), Anthony asked her what it was all about.
This was unprecedented. No one had ever dared raise the subject before. She stared at him for a moment, slack jaw swaying in the wind, then pronounced: "I don't remember." I kid you not.
(4) Every time someone challenges her in the least (we're talking really minor here), she claims she's about to have a heart attack. If challenged on this point, the pains disappear.
(5) She can move like a cat, whenever and wherever she wants. We've heard it, over and over. She puts this "heavy heaving" act on, when she thinks we're here. If she thinks she's without an audience, suddenly, she's 16 again.
So, the point is, my mother is here on some sort of pretense. Of course, we knew that. She told us she had pancreatic cancer. That was an outright lie.
But the outrageous boundaries of the lie are truly magnificent. She's 91. I get it. She's tired and a bit confused and wants help.
But the lying. She has lied up one end and down the other end of Canada to get in here with us. It defines her life, the lying.
All I've ever asked of her is to speak honestly. She really never has.
So what do we have?
A 91 year-old woman who literally RUNS up and down the stairs when she thinks we aren't around (freaks Kathleen out, let me tell you), who obviously thinks out and plans how frail she will APPEAR in front of us, and she is someone who is my mother, but whom I don't know at all.
It's pathetic. That's what we have. Pathetic.