Monday, August 27, 2012

Not Dead Yet

I survived last week. Took my mother to the doctor. Got a new list of her prescriptions, since we'll be switching pharmacies to one located nearer to the retirement residence. Had various conversations with the management at the residence, setting up a date to move her furniture, etc.

One prescription was wrong, so I had to sort that out with the doctor and her staff, over the phone. The new prescription is in the mail. Once I get them all, I'll have to sit down with staff at the residence to review, since they will be doling out the meds from now on.

I still need to get the prescription for the elastic stockings to the medical supply company, so I can pick up my mother's elastic stockings, and deliver them to her. That reminds me...she needs new rubber gloves with which to apply said stockings (each pair of these puppies cost about $350. So she wears gloves to avoid putting a finger through them).

In the meantime, John has been calling here, harassing Anthony. He NEEDS to get back into their mother's house, don't cha know? He NEEDS to clear out more of his stuff (I guess a year's notice wasn't enough). He NEEDS to do his laundry! Wahhhh!!!! Poor wittle boy.

So Anthony duly made a date to allow John entry into the house, ONLY to get the last of his belongings, but not to do laundry. They mutually picked a day and time.

By now, you can probably guess what happened.  Anthony drove across town to Doris's falling-down house at the appointed time. John never showed. He was probably hung over and over slept, the wittle darling.

A day later, he called and left  a message to the effect that he STILL NEEDS to get his belongings. Really?

No apology. Just "I need my stuff, man."

He actually expects Anthony to drop everything and drive across town AGAIN to give him access. What a f#*$ing creep. Loser.

Anyway. You can see how these piles of details and chores continue to rule our lives. I can only pray that once my mother gets settled into the residence, and once John finally figures out that his ties with his mommy's house are CUT, that Anthony and I will begin to see light at the end of the tunnel.

We have forgotten what it's like to have a single spare moment for ourselves.

One more thing: Anthony picked up piles of mail at his mother's house. Apparently, there were several of John's dead-beat friends either living there with him, or using the address as theirs. Anthony arrived home with a mittful of overdue fines, summonses and tickets of various sorts, and notices of pending court appearances for this delightful bunch of users.

As I said: Creep. Loser.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

This Week May Just Kill Me

My last post was a really good rant! It felt great to get all that emotion out! Plus, It's all true!

I was reading a newspaper article yesterday about a nice man who's taken care of his elderly mother for many years. I was immediately struck by his recollection that his mother never wanted his help. When he offered to take her in, she said "Larry, maybe you shouldn’t be spending your time taking care of me."

Now, clearly, this woman is not part of the Seniors, Inc. mob, to which I referred with such affection (kidding) last post. She is self-effacing, not needy or greedy in her approach to life. Or at least she was, until she got dementia. Now, of course, she's neither here nor there in her state of being, but merely has real needs which her son meets.

Good Lord. If only my mother and mother-in-law had faced life like that. My mother has used me as her crutch, her help-mate, almost like a spouse, ever since my father died when I was 17. When I was younger, I didn't mind helping my mother. I figured she needed it, because she completely fell apart when my dad died, and sure wasn't asking me if I needed any help then. 

Nope, it was all about her from that moment on. Of course, it had been all about her prior to that. But my dad had borne the weight of her neediness. Once he was gone, she shifted that mighty weight right on over to me.

As I grew older, and my own responsibilities piled up, I began to resent her neediness. She was not by any stretch of the imagination an old woman then. After a couple of years of mourning, I figured she needed to stop acting like I was my father, and capable of dropping my life to do her bidding whenever she needed help.

The only way I could remove the stranglehold she had on me was to either cut her off completely, or to physically move far enough away so as to make it impossible to just drop by to do her bidding. I did both, on-and-off, down through the years.

She fooled me though, out-smarted me like the fox she is. When she realized her capabilities were actually drastically diminishing, she faced a dilemma. How could she maintain her high standards? She needed fantastic food, but couldn't make it herself anymore. Meals-on-Wheels, I suggested? Her nose went in the air. Move to a retirement residence? That suggestion was met with stony silence. Move in with my brother or my sister? (I asked that questions with tongue-in-cheek, knowing that neither of my siblings would extend an invitation to her, and nor would she want to live with either of them because of a variety of failings she found in their lifestyles). "Oh no, no, no," she replied to that question, panic in her voice at the mere thought of having to live with my demonic sister, or in my brother's "filthy" house, as she put it (he probably needs to dust a bit more often).

And on that note, she needed to live in a place that was scrupulously clean, yet she was no longer capable of keeping her condo in the germ-less hygienic state she required. Hire a cleaner, I asked? She snorted. No cleaner could ever clean her condo the way she insisted it be cleaned. We're talking eat-off-the-bathroom-floor clean. Move to a retirement residence? I queried. I got the same stony silence.

Now, there's a part of this story I haven't mentioned to you. I'll just touch briefly on it here: For the preceding few years (preceding as in before my mother's health failed at about age 86) I had already been asking my mother to move to Kookytown. That's right. I knew she was getting on. I was single and really struggling to raise two small kids on my own, completely alone in Kookytown. I suggested to her that she sell her condo and perhaps we could buy a semi-detached in Kookytown? That way, we'd both have our privacy, yet could help one-another as required by living side-by-side. I could have a bit of freedom in that if needed, I could leave the kids with her for short periods, to get groceries, see my dentist or doctor, etc. For her part, I could fetch groceries for her, cook meals, etc.

I was financially able to buy half a semi and was not asking my mother to compromise her own finances in any way. 

She refused to answer me any time I asked. She didn't want to move here. She didn't need my help. Not yet, not at that point. She didn't want to help with my kids. Or with anything. After a few years, I stopped asking.

But then the tide shifted again. My kids continued to grow and life got a bit easier for me. Anthony and I started dating and began planning a life together. My mother's health failed, quite suddenly. It was amazing how fast she went downhill. And then she needed me, again. She couldn't cook for herself, or clean. But she didn't want to live in a retirement residence. She didn't want anything much to change. How to fix this dilemma? Over and over, she asked me that? None of my suggestions were to her liking.

And on and on it went. For two years, she dithered away in her condo, calling me and crying about how she couldn't cope any more. But I wasn't asking her to move to Kookytown anymore. I didn't need her help and she hadn't come when I needed her. I was trying to plan a new life with a new husband.

And then she had her brain wave. Pancreatic cancer!!!! Death approaches like a freight train! Delia will surely take me in!!! And she was right. Anthony and I were house-hunting. It was the perfect time to buy a bigger that had room for my mother as well.

Thus she moved in here, erasing the distance that had existed between us, between my home here in Kookytown and her condo in Winnipeg.

That was 4 years ago, when she was 88. She told us she had pancreatic cancer. She flat out lied.  I fell for it, and this blog has detailed my life ever since.

Next Post: I'll tell you about Anthony's mother and her greedy-neediness, which is a totally different type of self-absorption from my mother's.

My mother: the CEO of Seniors Inc.
Anthony's mother: Co-founder and the public face of Seniors Inc.

Sunday, August 19, 2012


Ok, so my last post was probably too ebullient by at least a half-measure more than was even remotely required, or warranted.

Expectations ran high. Way too high. And so I retrench on what I think is exactly the amount of freedom I think I may have gained.

This week  I need to: take my mother to see her doctor for her usual long list of complaints and supposed needs. Then, I will take her to meet with the management of the establishment in which she currently resides, to sign a residency agreement.  This will require a long conversation to remind her that she has agreed to move there permanently. Then, we must pack her room up, here in the house, rent a van, load it with her belongings, and fill her new room at the retirement residence with her stuff.

Throughout this I will be peppered with her repeated questions and whining demands. There will be hysterics and possibly tears, might I add. And that's just on my part. Ha.

But that is just the beginning. This week we must also: go through the trashed remains of what is Anthony's mother's former home. The place looks like a drug den that went horribly wrong. So, no expensive bling or even anything slightly nice or normal left behind. Every single room is trashed. The fridge is full of moldering remnants of God-knows what science experiment gone wrong. Penicillin anyone? Every room is a fright scene of dumped out drawers, clothing strewn everywhere (horribly, I spotted one of Doris' old, yellowed bras on the dining room floor amid the shitty detritus thrown about), bed-bugs firmly entrenched through the bowels of the varied mattresses lying (where else?) right on the floors, and everywhere, the contents of what used to be a home, a place where a family grew up, tossed about, violated and left to rot where they lay on the once beautiful hardwood floors. It makes me sick. Did I mention that the paintings on the walls are splattered with the strewn contents of who-knows-what drinks, thrown by John when something didn't please him?

I'd so love to kick his skinny pathetic narcissistic ass all the way to the end of the street, and then push him over the edge of the planet into outer space.

But wait, there's more! In between performing these services for our respective mothers, neither of whom, by-the-way, attempted to plan for this eventuality, and perhaps, by so doing, might not have, oh,  LAID THIS GRIEF on their kids, I will also try to get the deck on the back of my house stained before summer's warm days drain away, fix the patio stones I've been trying to get straightened for about 4 years, to be exact, and deal with the fact that school starts in two weeks and my children have a few needs themselves in that regard. Of course, just to casually mention, Anthony will throughout all, ACTUALLY WORK AT A REAL HIGH-PRESSURE JOB, I will continue to ATTEMPT TO HOLD DOWN SOMETHING RESEMBLING A CONSULTANCY WITH AN EVER-PATIENT PARTNER, and bid on contracts, or just some little shat like that, and the house will continue to run smoothly, laundry done on time, nutritious meals served, all bills paid as required, the place kept moderately clean. Oh, and the dog exercised daily, you bet.

My children. Their needs so often get swallowed up by the ravening, voracious demands of their extremely elder, never-endingly greedy grand-mother and step-grandmother. By greedy, I'm talking resources. They think nothing of asking for most of our time, a heck of a lot of energy, and I won't even get into the strain on the medical system. The needs and requirements (real or imagined) of these women never end. I've come up with a name for the likes of them and their ilk, these aging human vacuums.

Seniors, Inc. They are like a mighty corporation, eating everything in its path with no regard for morality, ethics or what could even just pass as common politeness. They are old, and they want it all. And no one dare stand up to them.

In my mom's case, her needy-greedy routine has been a pro-active approach to the world ever since I can remember. With Anthony's mother, the opposite is true. She didn't ask for much in the past, but refused to take any wise counsel, became (and still does) hostile and angry at any suggestions that she may need help, and now that she's loony-tunes, the mess she created has been dumped in our laps.

And again, by "mess", I'm not just talking physical mess, although that is huge. It's the amount of time, energy and resources she's now sucking. Just dealing with John alone has become Anthony's full-time ulcer these days.

Before you judge me a tad harshly, just let me say: have you had to deal with anyone who remotely resembles what I've described in this blog? Until you have, not a word. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Free at Last, Free at Last...

I'll be brief: my mother has agreed to move permanently to the retirement residence.

Also: we found Doris' house in a complete state of filth and chaos, but empty of obvious residents. Anthony changed the locks. Thus, double happy face.

We went out for dinner after it all, to celebrate. This will pretty much be the first time Anthony and I, and the kids, will be able to live in this house, without my mother's presence. We bought and moved into the place in July of 2008, and my mother moved in with us that fall.

During the time between July 2008, when we moved in, and my mother's arrival, we barely registered our lives here, there was so much to do. Those couple of months were spent combining two households, unpacking, sorting, frantically removing old wall paper, painting, refinishing floors, etc. to make the place liveable and to make my mother's room cheery and comfortable for her.

Just to remind you, Anthony and I hadn't lived together prior to buying this house. Our lives together here have been underwritten by the presence of my mother almost completely to this point in time, and as we struggled to grow to know each other in marriage, her shadow hung over all.  My children had to adjust to a new house, new schools, a new step-father AND their grandmother, all at once. We also got married in February 2009, to add to the list of major life stressors we were facing ;)

I'm amazed when I think about it. And proud of all of us. Though we had rough spots, we did our best and my mother was given four years of life that most seniors would kill to live, I bet. Grandchildren, great food, music, parties, anything my mother wanted; all she need do is ask. Oh, and a chauffeur, me.

Here we are. August 2012. I feel oddly light. It's amazing what a weight of a presence she wielded.

Mind you, she's already causing havoc at the retirement residence. She won't take instructions from the staff, and when she wants something, harasses them endlessly to get it, pronto. Exactly like she did to me for the last 4 years. They've called several times to warn me that she will need to settle down, soon. Or else.

Can you picture my 92-year-old mother out on the street, kicked out of a place meant to deal with elderly people just like her, due to her incredibly difficult personality?

Well, I still feel light. That will be her problem, if it comes to that. I've done my time, to the best of my ability.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Stormy Weather Coming.

An alternate title could have been "Blahhhhh...."

We - all five of us, including Pepper the pooch -just got back from two glorious weeks at the cottage. This is a shot of the lake, taken as a nasty storm was starting to roll in.

You know it's hard to get back into routine after two weeks of unreal, relaxing, carefree and fun-packed times. No Internet. No emails. No work.

Just swimming, eating, reading, board games, little day trips to nearby places of interest, music, and did I mention swimming? I'm a Pisces, and if you give me good swimming, I'm happy as a ....well, a fish in water. Coming back to Kookytown has been quite the let-down, even, I suspect, for our dog Pepper, who had the best two weeks of her doggie life, running free, playing with the neighbors' dog, swimming with Alexander and Kathleen, and investigating the local wildlife.

So that's why I almost entitled this post "Blahhhhhh...."

Instead, though, I've called it something that I fear will describe the upcoming two weeks.

What will happen throughout the rest of August, you ask?

Well, Anthony and I have made up our minds that my mother will not be returning to live with us. She's currently in a retirement residence and that's where I think she should stay. I've done my time of almost four years with her, and I can no longer meet her growing list of needs. But that doesn't mean it's going to be easy to tell her that. Or easy to get her to accept that she can't come back here.

That's the first thing.

The second is that Anthony's brother John is still living in his mother's house. He has defied all of Anthony's commands to clean up, get a job, and find a place of his own to live. Anthony even fears that John has moved some of his drug-dealing friends right onto the ram-shackle house. That's because a few weeks ago, one of these thugs called us to let us know John had been beaten up, probably for not paying up on drugs or some other illegal activity.

John called here the other night. Sigh. I hate that he even knows our number or where we live.

He promised Anthony that he had moved out. But in the same breath, he said his "stuff" is still in the house, and that golly gee, honest, it would be cleaned out soon. That makes me laugh.

Double sigh. So this weekend, Anthony and I get to do two things:
(1) visit my mother at the retirement residence, tell her she can't come back here (she will interpret this as "we don't love you anymore"), bear her arguments, tears, rage, etc., all of which I'm anticipating will be spectacular, and then brace for the inevitable onslaught of guilt-inducing phone calls from her, begging to be allowed to stay;
(2) visit Anthony's mother's house to determine the exact state of affairs, who the hell is living or not living there, engage a locksmith (hopefully) to change the locks on the place if vacant, and carefully go through whatever crap is still there to eliminate any needles, butts, empty bottles, etc that may be dangerous/incriminating/disgusting.

Now, doesn't that just make your weekend plans sound a whole lot better than you thought?