Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Saint? You Make Me Laugh!

Originally published on MySpace Jun 11, 2008

Yesterday I was playing World of Warcraft with a friend of mine who lives a couple of states away. Yes, I am a nerd like that - I LOVE games!! And the friend I was playing with is my real life best friend. We are not internet acquaintances who have no idea who we are talking to, we are real live living and breathing in the real world friends!

Okay, I guess that might make her a little nerdy, too, since she is the one that introduced me to WoW.

As we were playing Mom began knocking on the table next to her chair for me to come take her to the bathroom. I messaged my friend what I was doing so she would know I was away from the game and she messaged back, "You are a saint!"

No amount of talking would convince her otherwise since she has an inkling of what all is going on in my world. Despite that, I continue to believe I am the lucky one since I am healthy. But I digress....

Far from being a saint, I would consider myself more of a martyr. I do resent that Mom can't do for herself and that it all falls on me. I am not always nice to her. She annoys me and frustrates me and I wish I didn't have this responsibility, that she was a healthy and sharp 87 year old woman. Do you have any idea how hard it is to see a woman with a veterinarian degree try to remember where she is going when you get her standing up? Or watch her try to read a book but not be able to make any sense of the words? It hurts, deep down inside.

So as the martyr in the scenario, let me tell you who the saints are. The saints are my husband and children. My husband who quickly steps in to help mom to the bathroom when he sees that I just can't do it for the second time in 45 minutes. My husband who gently chides her to take bigger steps and not hit the wall with her walker. My husband who appears to not care that he is physically putting his mother-in-law on the toilet and helping her back off it. That is a saint. He has never complained about her living with us for the three years she's been here. Let me also explain that she did not always warm up to him since he married her precious (HA!) daughter. I nominate my husband for sainthood.

My oldest daughter also qualifies. She helps with Mom an enormous amount. If I ask her to get Mom up in the morning she walks into her room with a huge smile and cheerfully greets her and chats at her the entire time she's helping her. Morning is probably my least favorite routine. Mom is incontinent and we don't get her up in the night. She has a plastic mattress cover to protect the mattress and she sleeps with a pad under her to absorb the wetness. It's smelly and icky to get her up and into the bathroom to get her into clean dry clothes for the day. And then rinsing off her teeth and helping her with those. Then after she is settled into her chair and fed her pills, cocoa and breakfast we return to the bedroom and bathroom to take care of all the wet stuff and get it into the washer. My daughter who cheerfully helps with all this deserves to be called a saint. She doesn't stop there. If she's not working or otherwise busy, she is always available to help or run an errand or start dinner. These are people who should be called saints.

My youngest daughter just finished her senior year of highschool. She helps with Mom but a little less often. She went through this last year of school basically on her own. When she wanted help picking out a prom dress, I was too tired. When she needed addresses and help sending out grad announcements, I was too tired. She never did get a senior portrait done professionally. Where was I when she needed me? I was either too tired or taking care of mom. What kind of a saint neglects her family for another? No, I was the martyr who sacrificed my family for Mom. My daughter has forgiven me and says she understands and that takes a bit of sainthood, too. At her age, this past year has been the most important of her life and I blew it.

It pretty much took being hit up aside the head with a 2x4 to recognize what I am doing to my family. I am grateful to the family member that helped me see that. I believe I am doing the right thing for my mother and I simply hate the idea of putting her in a home. I keep thinking, "I can do this. I owe her this. I want to give myself to her this way. She did so much for me!" But what am I really doing for her? One day is like the next for her and she doesn't remember the one before. I know she is happier here than she will be anyplace else. But I have to think of my family now. Are they happier without a mom/wife? What have I given up for Mom at my family's expense? How many times have I not been available for my family because I had to care for Mom? The answer is too many.

I have to start to think about my own bucket list, too, and how can I do that when I have committed myself to someone else's life? It's hard to think about but I have to do what's right for my family and probably what is right for Mom, now, too. My last question is can I wait until we make our move? It's a couple of months away and I think it would be harder on Mom to put her in a home here and then move her later. I think we can all hold on that long.

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