Things have been somewhat calmer lately. She recognizes that I don't answer her when she speaks about going back home. I have continued to keep her weekday schedule pretty full with bridge games, which are only about 3 and 1/2 hours long. After that she comes back home and settles down.
Did I tell you that I finally fully hired the newer caretaker? No???
Oh my goodness. That was the hardest thing in my life. I let the first one go. Listen, at the end of a work day, a couple of colleagues sat me down to coach me on the process of letting someone go. It ain't no ways easy.
I got spiritual help too. On my way home from work that day, I walked a different street. One that did not carry me by the bank to deposit my check. Riding on the train, I remembered. So I get off the train a stop early, walked to the back exit (which I seldom do at this exit), and at the top of the escalator near the turnstiles a prayer station had been temporarily erected. I never visited those set up around the city before. They pop up every now and then.
That day as I walked towards the exit, I continued along the path that led toward the prayer station almost marvelling at my legs that seemed to be marching all on their own with my body in tow.
My legs seemed to march me right toward one woman in particular. She rose to greet me and immediately took my hands in hers.
How can I help you, my sister
I need prayer.
How can I pray for you.
I need to fire someone, and I want to pray for her. Then the tears came so quickly.
Then she prayed. I've never done that before -- prayed in a public place --been so exposed and so vulnerable and so public.
Afterwards, when I called her, my caretaker, she didn't answer the phone. She wouldn't. I left a message, and I sent her a severance pay. All I could think about was I know all too well what it's like to no longer have money coming in that you expected to have coming in.
I love our new caretaker. The lesson I learned with the previous one was to be brave enough to communicate my limits before things spiral to a point of no return.
So I hide in plain sight. What's that all about?
Oftentimes when I need a break from my mom, I escape to my bedroom. She's sometimes not too good about being alone. So, it's at those times that I have to hide from her. Sometimes I sit on my sofa that is parallel to my bed with the lights off. Last night I scooted down my bed just about half way down and put my pillow on top of my head. Either way, my mom stands in my doorway of my small bedroom calling my name over and over. It's a strange thing. On my sofa I look right at her with just the bathroom light filtering into my room, and she never sees me. The bed is in right in front of the door, and even then as she stands there she still does not see me.
All this does is teach me. No matter how many times she insists that she can go home and be on her own, that she's better, my ability to hide in plain sight right in front of her on a regular basis tells me otherwise. I look forward to the day that I can afford to pay the caretaker to spend an entire day with her, on multiple days, beyond bridge.
She has taken her to get her nails done after a bridge game, but I wish to have more of that. I realize my mom is with her caretaker about the same time I am at work. She comes home then I come home. I don't often get a break. That's why I have had to resort to hiding in plain sight. Last night after a ten hour work day followed by a three and a half hour class and a brief half hour rehearsal with my scene partner, I was Tired. It was 10:50 PM by the time I got home. I would have to leave by 6:15 AM the next morning. I had to get her money together and her medicine together for the following day. And I needed to just go to bed. She was not ready for me to go to bed. I did what I had to do for her and for me, then I went into my bedroom, turned off the light and hid in plain sight with my door wide open. I watched as she stood at my door calling my name in the dark room, then tried the front door of the apartment (which has an alarm and two door stops so that I won't be surprised by another late night wandering). I watched her trying to locate me in my small one bedroom apartment. I watched and realized I was watching the teacher (she is a retired school teacher) teach me how necessary it is for me to take care of this person for the rest of her life.
So last post I said I was willing to give it a try. I was willing to boldly trust. I revisited Norman Vincent Peale's anecdote about the trapeze artist and his teacher, and taking a lesson from that said I too would "throw (my) heart over the (trapeze) bar" so that my body would follow. And as soon as I said that so much followed.
1) I found myself in the midst of drama at a job. It was frustrating, draining, juvenile, and ugh.
2) Then I heard myself say aloud, "This (place/job location) isn't my goal." And for some reason it settled it. I made up my mind to walk away. I didn't quit the job. I just decided to no longer make that job location a priority.
3) I prayed at a prayer station that miraculously appeared at my subway station and asked for prayer for the woman I would have to let go. The woman who was my mom's first caretaker. Man oh man was that hard--letting someone go from a job. There I was standing in the midst of a busy subway stop during evening rush hour, being prayed over while I let the water works fall. After which I bravely called the old caretaker to agree to what she already suspected. That was hard.
4. A young just out of grad school preacher preached at my church on Sunday. The lesson from the young visiting preacher this past Sunday was all about what we're focusing on. And that lesson is still bouncing around in my head over and over and over. I woke this morning with it dawning on me what it was I thought about first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I thought about those things that irritated me. I then got a glimpse of myself contemplating leaving acting once again and realized then that up to that point I had been spending the majority of my time thinking about anything but my acting career. I am so grateful for that awakening.
I also realized how I seldom learn a lesson the first time. I usually learn eventually...yeah...well.
So, that drama at work was the second time I found myself enmeshed in drama at that same location; second time; second person. Hmmmm...and it occurred to me that I was turning into the people I worked with at that location. People who confused the heck out of me when I first worked there. They easily put in 15 sometimes 18 hours a day!!! How do they spend time with their families, have a life, do anything else. Their entire lives are consumed with that job and there is no advancement. There is no acknowledment or reward or anything. They are unhappy and advancing no where. I was becoming like them. I had put in as many as 14 and 3/4 hours in multiple days within the same week. With that much time put into work, there is very little time left for you/me. Hmmm...
Also, I am beginning to think that it's not so much my mom who must learn but me. I recognize now that I've been hearing that said to me several times. Yes, she swears she's going home. Ugh, tonight I listened to her as she told my cousin how she couldn't wait to get home to have control over her pain meds so that she can take as many as she wants at a time. Yeah, seriously she said that. Visions of that overmedicated woman who first arrived here back in December floated past my eyes.
The student in this journey, with my mom, my work, my career, my art, my creations, my faith, my belief, etc. is me. It's funny how I can sort of see this now. It's kind of like if you've ever seen a ghost. Maybe you have or maybe you're one of those people who hasn't. You sort of see something peripherally at first. You know you can't turn and focus on it...there's that word...FOCUS. Well you can't focus straight on. You sort of have to focus on it peripherally. When you do that though things in front of you sort of vanish and you then get a fairly clear peripheral picture. Hmmmm.... Let me think this one through.
Focus...so I've been holding my attention on those things that are not serving me. Oh, yes, I need income, of course. But I had become stagnant and consumed, gobbled up, swallowed up, but fortunately these nudgings had come along trying hard to redirect my attention away from that straight ahead route that did not serve me whatsoever. But I wasn't getting it. My focus was frozen or dulled or deadened or dying. But fortunately I had a breakthrough, and it happened before, during or right after I decided to be bold in my faith, tossing my heart over the hypothetical trapeze.
So, as for me, this day I intentionally and repeatedly shifted my focus away from that which made me irritated and distracted, and back towards the personal professional journey I set out on. I also shifted my focus away from wanting to get my mom to be or do anything and more towards getting myself to recognizing her limits and that I am actually the student in all of this. Also to recognize that the one who is being or doing is me. I'm not sure any of this makes sense for you, but it does for me.
The lesson was/is focus. So, my heart has been tossed in faith, and now I purposely practice with my intentional focus, my on purpose focus.
This entry is kind of all over the place, but then again maybe all of my entries are all over the place.
This journey has been stressful. I'm talking about this journey with my mom, this journey with quitting my job as a teacher, this journey of returning to acting at my age, this journey of being a responsible grown up.
In the late 80's, I did my first tour (mini tour; minuscule tour) with a tiny but fun production of Little Shoppa Horrors. I was a doo wop street urchin girl. I loved it. This was shortly after I dropped out of a female New Edition wanna be group, which came after I dropped out of Michigan State University.
I was just talking to my current scene partner for my current acting class about how overwhelmingly miserable I was at MSU. Gah, I was big time depressed. But my unsuccessful journey with the female vocal group and the short musical tour lifted me to places I couldn't explain.
On the tour, after a performance, while the cast ate together between cities, the woman who played Audrey told me that in her opinion I was a new soul visiting this earthly plain. Okay, it's a bit spacey. But I admit that I have met those persons who have given me the feeling (from someplace I don't know) that has made me utter the words they're an old soul.
Sometimes, as I step back and watch myself, I too get the feeling of a very new soul to this world.
Okay, here goes...
When I was a kid, I used to imagine that I was this spirit, or whatever, that pleaded with God to let me please come to this world, so when the actress said that to me, it reminded me of that childhood imagination.
Sometimes I would imagine everything was brand new for this new entity, me. This is crazy stuff but I'm just trying to have the courage to let my imagination and courage intertwine right at this moment.
So, sometimes I would imagine God was watching this little brand new soul wandering this way and that way and so often taking the path that led right to a sharp cliff on a steep hill and that was when God's interventions weren't so secretive but obvious.
Afterwork tonight as we walked pass the new World Trade Center, a colleague and I did what New Yorkers must do on and off on a regular basis since that day. We recounted our personal miracles that intervened hours or days or weeks before to direct our paths away from the tragedy.
My miracle, at the time, sat in the form of a rejection letter. I threw it away (I think) years ago after that tragic day. But today I wish I kept it. It was my physical evidence of a miracle.
I remember the shock and disappointment at being rejected for a waitress job for breakfast no less. I never even got invited for an interview. I was simply rejected via the post. For whatever reason, at that time (a couple of months before that day) I kept the letter. No restaurant had ever sent me a rejection letter before. But Windows on Top of the World did, the restaurant that sat on the top of the North Tower.
A delayed train kept me out of harm's way. This was just a few months ago.
And another time...
Several years ago, the starter on my '85 Camry failed to start each time I made up my mind to go visit a new guy I was kind of in to. On three separate days each time I hopped into my car to go visit him my car refused to start. When we'd cancel our plans, the car started up just fine. Not even my stepdad could get the car to start on those days.
There are other happenings over the years but they get even more bizarre.
So, as I prepare myself to face another month of my breaking my mom's heart in her want to go home, I think about another miraculous or serendipitous or coincidental happening. It happened boldly after...
Or maybe I prayed boldly then it happened. I sincerely didn't know what to do after she tried to walk out of my apartment at 2:30 AM on December 26th. So on January 2nd, I prayed: show me what to do.
Hours after that prayer, she tried to walk again. I saw this was for real.
I keep seeing little things now almost every time she brings up going home alone, every time. It's like she is invisibly directed to do just the right wrong thing to get my attention, to make me see.
Right now, I also see the connection in my journey as an actress; the little invisible guiding. So, there are the mounds of rejections. The need to have the survival job(s). The juggle to balance which job or pursuit at what time to give the most of my attention. And finally there's that constant internal silent battle with the want to just quit.
And so tonight I was reminded by my work colleague as we passed the shadows of the past about the miracle that played out in the form of rejection that was so big and bold right then. That sat on my dresser hurting my feelings making me feel inadequate, but how it was really none of those negative things. It was my real life evidence that miracles are real, and today it is a reminder that in the midst of all those rejections on this actor's journey is a collection of miracles.
That in the midst of this uncomfortable journey with my mom is a plethora of miracles for her and me.
My colleague said, really there is nothing for you to worry about since there is always some guidance, so to speak, going on. Perhaps that's true.
So right now I have decided to try a tiny experiment with myself. I am going to practice that's it's true. That I can just trust wholeheartedly in the spiritual realm. Each rejection is by design as is each acceptance.
I needed this now because my inner actress has been feeling a wee bit depressed. She's been rather neglected. She hasn't auditioned since January (well, one last week but I'll get to that).
She was feeling neglected and silly for wanting to even continue this pursuit. She's been forced to play the role of being responsible for the well-being of another, and she's been feeling fairly mediocre at the role.
And as she was sure she was being rejected, a miraculous check arrived just as she wondered if her agents had dropped her. It's just a fluke she said while still on her way to convincing herself to quit. Then a "recast" audition arrived giving her the opportunity to audition for a different role in the same production. The two arrived days apart...out of the blue...exactly when she tried to convince herself she'd been rejected again. Plus a miracle that meant nothing to no one but her: the two arrived in a way that did not force her to have to cancel work. It all just fit perfectly in her schedule as it was..
So I've decided to play a game of trust.
I remember that anecdote shared by Norman Vincent Peale:
"A famous trapeze artist was instructing his students on how to complete a performance on the high bar. After finishing his talk, he asked his students to demonstrate what they had learned. One of his students stood looking up at his precarious perch, pictured himself falling, and become completely frozen in fear.
“I can’t do it. I can’t do it.” he gasped. The instructor put his hand on his shoulder and said these words:
“Throw your heart over the bar and your body will follow.”
So I will give it a go. Tonight, at 1:15 AM, I throw my heart over the bar.
Yep, the "I'm doing good enough to go home," dialogue has resurfaced again.
Right at this moment I bravely or stupidly put her in the car service vehicle all by herself. I sit outside here in front of my building without the relief I expected to feel.
Her caretaker is meeting her at today's bridge game location. It'll be alright, she's routinely told me. Since my work day begins later today I figured this was a good day to start teaching my mom how to do this.
To be honest, I feel so out of touch with my emotions. For example, I naively thought I was okay with this, agreeing to even allow my mom to meet the caretaker at other locations. I have just been making schedules for my mom and myself, making our meals, getting summer clothes together for her, cleaning in small sprints, missing every call with my own friends...I just go go go.
This put her in the car herself business came out of necessity due to her caretaker's wee little attendance problem. She does show up, just not always on time. And it's often my mom who loses out. A few times she's arrived at bridge too late to play. I watched her one of those times sit pathetically by having to only watch others play the game while she obediently kept quiet. I felt sorry for her.
I still have to go to work though, and the caretaker does run late at times or mixes up dates and addresses and...huge sigh.
I want to stop penalizing my mom for this issue. So I decided to just have the caretaker meet her there. Last week as the caretaker, late, raced to our home, I prepared my mom to meet her at the senior center, to leave the apartment and get in the car alone. However, If I had to grade my mom's efforts, that day she received a B-. She did dress, leave the apartment, had her walker, purse, money (I packed it before I left), and keys. She boarded the elevator, then the caretaker arrived just in time to meet the elevator on the ground floor. The car was already waiting for them. It worked out just fine. But when I got home, the front door of the apartment was unlocked. So not a perfect grade.
I know I have to be brave enough to let her learn, I guess, but I am not that brave. I think.
Last night I couldn't go back to sleep. I'd naively began to believe my mom was truly getting better and could do all of this on her own. Then at 12:39AM She came to my room to wake me because I forgot to give her a Melatonin supplement and an Aleve pill (which is actually a vitamin I swapped for Aleve).
I was grouchy times 10. I had been sleeping peacefully up until that moment. After she woke me, I stupidly said, "You need to use some common sense. An Aleve and a Melatonin shouldn't make you wake me up in the middle of the night."
As soon as I heard myself tell her to use common sense that was when I was reminded of who I'm dealing with and her biological short comings.
Afterwards as I laid in bed last night then WIDE AWAKE, I kept thinking about this coming Friday. The caretaker can't make it. This Friday's game is one of my mom's favorite places. Again I have a late start to my work day so I could take my mom or see her off on her own this Friday. But ugh!!!!!
And that's when I reached out to another potential caretaker, finally. We talk tomorrow.
So right now my mom is on her way to a game, riding in a car all alone, meeting her caretaker there. She dressed early, and even flat ironed her own bangs. We exited the apartment together. She learned how to actually lock the door. She boarded and exited the elevator as well as the front of the building with no help from me. Then she got outside and immediately got on her cellphone, called a neighbor back home, telling her what she had just done and how she's proving to me that she could go back home and do it all on her own. As she talked about the service car picking her up, it was then that I learned she didn't even know the name of the service.
The taxi arrived and she kept talking. The taxi honked and pulled in front of the building stopping. She kept talking. The driver got out of the car. She kept talking.
Get off the phone and concentrate.
Get off the phone.
I took the phone.
I don't know who this is but she has to focus.
I hung up the phone.
Go find out who he's here for.
She walked towards the driver leaving her purse and her walker behind.
Are you here for M------*?
He replied with a mangled pronunciation of her first name.
Then she actually threw her arms up to hug him. He looked at me. I gave a stupid sheepish emarrassed eh, smiled and shrugged my shoulders.
She got in the car putting her cushion down first. He put her walker in the back of the vehicle. She buckled up. He got in the car. Then holy shit she opened the damn door just before he pulled off to tell me one last thing.
Don't open that door!!!
I want to remind you about...
Close that door!!!
I just want to remind you...
Close that door. You want to talk to me call me.
The driver pulled off, made a u-turn, and they were on their way. My heart pounding in my throat. My stomach in knots. I'm there visualizing her opening the door on the highway or something.
Minutes later my mom calls me. It's the driver on the phone:
She's going to Queens?
You should have the address.
I did but it just vanished from my screen.
Damn. I gave him the address and cross streets again then realized I sent her off without giving her the information. Of course whenever I've travelled with her, all systems worked perfectly. Traffic delays happened all the time but all systems worked.
She was supposed to arrive at 11:30. Of course they're not there yet. But thankfully I'm not panicking yet.
I hope the interview with the other caretaker goes well tomorrow.
Oh, by the way, when I returned to the apartment, the flat iron was still on. A part of me wants to say I will never put her in another car service car alone ever again, but it's hard doing this alone.
When I returned home from work and class last night, and she was already home from her adventure, she asked me about going to bridge the next day. Starting that day the caretaker is no longer available to take her and while my work start time is later in the day again, I wouldn't be able to bring her home or even be home to meet her. I had to tell her no. That she wouldn't be going that day. I felt bad. She looked like and pleaded like a little kid begging to go play. And I had to say no.
I had to. I had visions of the unlocked door, the flat iron, how she walked to the driver (a stranger) throwing her arms up around him, how she walked away from her purse on the street. How she threw open the car door right before pulling off. How easily she gets distracted. How she can't figure out which car is for her. How she can't help the driver with directions. I can't let her go completely alone, which informs me (teaches me) that I can't allow this person to go home alone to her house in a different state and do all of any of this alone.
I was grumpy last night when I got home. I gave her her dinner and nighttime favorite pills (Melatonin and Aleve - wink wink), then grumpily marched back to my room getting out of sight. This morning I think I understand what emotion I was really feeling. She really is like a helpless little kid, and I really have to say no, at times, to her wanting to go play because I finally became an adult somewhere along the way and have to be responsible for the two of us. Also I truly feel so bad for having to say no every time I do.
I think I hid my sorrow for her under my grumpiness. I see its connection to my evening now: I ate two big bags of potato chips last night; I was exceptionally tired when I had a short work day and class. I am actually angry with myself for waiting this long to try to hire another caretaker. I have hated how the caretaker has been late often which has made my mom or me late, and buys her candy bars all the time, and cancels days of the week that are directly connected to my mom's favorite activities thus leaving me having to say no to my mom when she just wants to go play.
During this new journey...ugh...there's so much sh*t to learn about every thing.
Looking at her in this moment, I see the person who still loves love. She loves a good love story. She loves to see love win, to see love work out, to see people falling in love. It's kind of cute.
But the strange thing that hits me is how I have to guide her hand, so to speak, to this.
Okay, I've ranted in the past about being absolutely done with game shows. Well it took me a long long time in figuring out how to gain ownership over TV time. So it has happened where I have come home from work and declared MY TIME. I now do that on the weekends too.
I often watch home improvement shows and of course House Hunters. So my tuning to those shows seemed to introduce her to something new. At least that's what I thought. But now I actually think that sometimes it became her bargaining chip to get me to sit and watch television with her. It's like, "Look. See. I've got your show on. Now you have to sit with me and watch."
Okay, it was kind of cute so I sat and watched. But the cuteness quickly faded when it was a show that she turned to after midnight then knocked on my bedroom door begging me to come watch TV with her because House Hunters is on!!!!
Then I guided her TV viewing once again tuning in to The Golden Girls late night since that's when her game show channel plays shows and infomercials she doesn't like. A funny thing began happening though when I began changing the channels. Eventually she too began changing the channels.
It's a little thing I know but sometimes it surprises me to catch her watching something other than her favorite game show channel. Sometimes she does this because there's a marathon of a game show she doesn't like. But truthfully speaking the confused over medicated person who arrived in December 2017 would have still sat through those shows. They pacified her.
I don't exactly know when she rediscovered The Hallmark Channel, but currently I am glad she did. Now before I can change the channel she has to finish the story she's following. This finishing business is rather new and has now expanded to include a game show she's watching. Before she allowed me to change the channel regardless of what point they were at in the show.
A part of me feels like what's happening is similar to how you guide a young child to show him or her other things they may like, and then you witness them grow from there.
I see the two sides that's happening: growth in her and that growth's connectedness to me and what I do for her.
Lately (and what I am noticing as a routine pattern) she has returned to asking me to let her go back home.
The pattern is often connected to her lack of having a schedule. Her bridge groups are away this week playing in a four day tournament, and I still have to go to work so this has resurfaced.
She's telling me how she is so much better now. That she's like she used to be. Here I scratch my head but don't bother chiming in. She is better, though. I agree. But I also know why and what I do on a daily basis.
She's not returning to life in her house as she used to know it. It took me a while to bravely voice this aloud to others. Sadly it is all too easy for me to change the subject anytime she brings it up (kind of like how you can easily distract a very young child). This only further reinforces for me the mental state of my mother. She is more like a very young child than an adult, and sending her home alone would be like sending a small child home alone to an empty house. Then there are the relationships with predators that she developed who eagerly await her return home. The best thing I learned to do was to change her cellphone number and to erase their numbers from her phone book. Not even family back home will give her those numbers.
I would say my family knows this change is permanent and gets why. They seem all too relieved that she is here with me. The ones who make it hard and reenergize her want to go home are her friends back home. This even includes the ones who reached out to me out of concern for her well-being. They mostly seem to think she will get better and can go back home. They too have noticed an improvement in her, but seem to equate it with some sort of break from home. These are her friends who are close to her age or older. However her younger friends back home don't expect her to return, nor do they beg me to let her return. I think that is because they themselves are in a similar situation as I am.
There is so much for me to learn on this journey, and on days like today I'm noticing that I don't recognize the lesson until I've encountered it a few times. In other words, I'm a slow learner.
Of course I'm making strides.
I'm off today from work. I would have loved to make myself a priority but it's another Friday without a caretaker. So I'm here in a room with Bridge players most of whom are senior citizens. And it's because I am here that I get to see a necessity for her, socializing doing something that means so much to her.
It's funny how on Bridge days she wakes up bright and early, dresses nicely and is ready to go. While she says she loves church, she may wake supernaturally just in time to watch Joel Osteen, then she often goes right back to bed. She looks happy here at the Senior Center playing Bridge and is even nice towards me. There is also a man here she flirts like crazy with...hahaha. He is attractive though, and a senior citizen. Last week he told me his wife is in a nursing home with Alzheimers. We had a nice little talk.
Here's an other observation. She continues to insist she can go to play Bridge on her own. This past Monday her eyes rimmed with tears that never fell after she learned I would be dropping her off to Bridge but would have to leave from there to go to work.
Is B-- meeting me there?
She relaxed. Her shoulders eased down, and my brave little 83 year old (who's more like a brave 5 year old) wheeled her little walker out the door on her way to play Bridge.
Here she's in her element.
1971-1973 a little blue school bus pulled up to our house, the door opened, I was helped in by my mom while the bus driver sang, "I dream of Jeannie with the light brown hair...," every time I boarded the bus. I loved that song because I loved the show, and I loved being called Jeannie just like the magical TV Jeannie.
2018 a white bus with blue lettering pulls up to my home and this time it is I who helps my mom onto the bus. The driver doesn't sing a song to her about her, but I know that if he did she would be just as giddy as I was so many years ago.
In 1990, one of my first jobs when I first moved to New York was as a babysitter. That was when I was first introduced to this thing called playdates: coordinating with others so that kids could meet together to play. As I sit here in church writing this while half listening to the sermon, I'm also coordinating with her caretaker for my mom to go play Bridge this Monday. I sit here this Mother's Day Sunday, motherless, uncelebrated, having never "brought in life," scheduling playdates for the week, and also remembering that I've got to schedule those doctor/dentist/eye doctor appointments, as well as plan when I will get to wash her clothes, especially the new white pants I bought her that she's managed to wear every single day since they arrived, dreading that tomorrow I may end up having to drop her off at her playdate then wait for the caretaker to meet me there before I race off to work, and also calculating how to design our afternoon today before our Mother's Day dinner date with out-of-town relatives tonight, while wondering if I go out and exercise after church or take a nap (I took a nap).
Is this the circle of life, or am I being punked?
For mother's day, in her card, I tucked in $10, enough for a snack from the store after church, or a quick trip to Dunkin' Donuts. The joy on her face took me back to the joy I experienced when I opened my birthday cards when I was little to find money tucked inside.
One great thing coming out of this new life experience is that I suddenly find myself fiercely transforming into a "grownup." It took me 50 years to grow up but the funny thing is that years ago I remember my mom making a very similar statement about growing up at 50..
(By the way, when we got home from the dinner date with family, I washed the white pants in the sink (the top too) because she will probably want to wear them again soon, probably Monday. The time: 11:30 PM.)
She's tucked in for the night. She likes for me to tuck her in and kiss her good night. I'm sitting here now at midnight finishing this blog while keeping her company. It makes her happy if I find time to spend with her each day. She is like a happy kid when I sit here watching TV. I'm happy doing it as long as we don't watch a game show. I've got her watching Modern Family right now. It's like my childhood has returned but the roles are reversed. I'm the mom and she's the kid. My own real life Freaky Friday.
I didn't have kids. I made too many other poor choices. But now since she's here and nobody back home wants to brave the jungle (that is her entry level hoarding) of her bedroom or closet to send her some clothes I have to buy new. But most of her old clothes have holes from moths, cigarette (MJ) burns, or whatever.
She looks cute in her new clothes but she is now my budget. I don't have money for me yet, just her. Sigh. The soles fell off one pair of my work shoes, my pants (the one pair I wear all week) are getting a bit thread bear. I'd love to get a haircut. But she now looks cute.
I am getting better on this budget thing too (patting my own back right now). I'm better at saying no because that money's gotta stretcccchhhhhhhh! Hey, I want...NO! But can I have...NOPE. Do you think I need...NAH.
So for my kid, I mean mom, who's so expensive I'm picking up so many more shifts too. I have to. Because her budget seems to grow with the season. Lawn care season is here now, plus the shingles are falling off her house, and her medical visits come with co-pays, then we've added more hours to her caretaker's hours. Sigh.
Yep, I've finally had to just say no. We eat in this house. No, we don't eat out. I will get your favorite this or that "soon," my new favorite word. "That's nice. I like it too. I'll see what I can do." I like that phrase too.
I want to rant more...this writing stuff is saving my sanity in the midst of this storm. It did it once before. I am hopeful it will do it again.
She's out with her caretaker right now. I can't get over how much I love these moments. I hate that I have to go to work when she's out the apartment. It's so nice and quiet for these brief moments. I even get to watch television in peace, and it can be as scary or violent as I want.
"You're losing weight." The caretaker told me this morning. I am down three and a half pounds (finally...pray it sticks). But with literally running to work, picking up her meds, sneaking in a class rehearsal before work, waking her, dressing her, bathing her, running store errands often at the last minute for her, and the oftentimes physical labor required during work, I find a good sweat running down my back most of the day lately.
New clothes arrive for my kid, uh, my mom this week. At least she can look as cute as she likes.
I keep thinking about some of what people were saying about her when she was still living at home on her own. They often talked about how disheveled and sloppy she was looking. She was. I did notice now when I compare it to how she looks now. I really did stay away for too long and too much of the year. But in early 2017, I went home at least 4 times to clean her home and to check up on her. It was crazy how fast things would revert back after my visits.
I am embarrassed when I look and think back to then...months ago. She asked today, again, when she can tell people back home that she will be home. I changed the subject. Truthfully, she's not going back to how it was.
ON a scale from 1-10 with 1 being sweet little ball of sunshine, and 10 being SATAN. Thursday night my grumpiness was at 8.5, Satan's minion.
What was on my mind?
I was in countdown mode by 9PM. I would have to be up at 3:45 AM the next morning in order to leave for work by 4:30 AM. So that meant, in the mental Olympics taking place in my brain mathematically calculating the time that I would need to:
get up, sneak into mom's room, get her meds container, fill it up, sneak back into her room, put it back, feed the dog and cat, keep dog from barking, pack my bag, hide the caretaker's money (to keep mom thinking caretaker is a friend of mine), get in the bathtub, dry, dress, take my supplements, and put on my "I'm awake face and attitude" so that I am ready for the "and they're off" pace that will smack me upside the head once I leave the apartment.
Thursday night my mom was just primping and patting her new little hairdo. She did look cute, and she was so happy. Little did she know that I had shipped her off that morning $30 short of what she needed to get her hairdo refreshed. When her caretaker texted me the price for the hairdo, $130, the financial overload of this thing I'm doing had me feeling stupid and incapable of doing any of what I'm doing for my mom. I packed $100 for the day thinking it would be $40 for hair, and the rest for lunch or dinner, and maybe something else mom might want to get. $100 was a lot to ship mom off with, but the hair might cost as much as $45 and mom might want to tip. So I was playing it safe, I thought. I forgot that her caretaker had her hair braided the last time she took her to get her hair done back in February.
How the hell did you FORGET, Bugaboo?
Even though her hair had been braided for nearly two months now, I guess in my mind my mom still sported her alien/conehead look:
She loved that old look.
But it really was kind of conehead-ish.
The caretaker hated it and one day asked if she could get my mom's hair redone. I agreed. She got it braided, and I liked the braids. But sometimes, I guess, I still see how it has always been...
So when I snapped the picture of her Thursday night, my grumpy evening, my grumpy evening among many grumpy evenings, it wasn't until I looked at the tiny series of shots I snapped that I saw her again for the first time in a while.
While I see her cute little face, I see too how prissy she is by the way her hands are poised around her face. I see too how she loves to look pretty. Pretty is important to her...it always has been now that I think about it. I see too how growing older is scary when what you are used to is taken away from you. I also see a little child who is exceptionally vulnerable. I see how she is so pleased with what she sees (for the first time in a long time since she's been with me these past months she is pleased). I see how her left eye doesn't get to see what it is that finally pleases her. I see how her right eye is satisfied. I see the transformation in her from December to now. I see that fragile beauty who I allowed to stay home alone in a house alone in a city far away from me where she sat exposed and available for vultures and predators to have their way with her devouring her flesh, poisoning her spirit, sacrificing her very life, replacing memories of me and my cousin with deceitful images of themselves as me and Shirley, my cousin.
I was so grumpy Thursday night. I was grumpy and I was feeling like an ass for being so damn grumpy.
When I think about what it is I hate...
Well, it's 6:48 AM and I have to get started if I want to have "my time."
The hate I feel, the anger, the impatience, the constant scowl...who is this person hijacking my body, my personality, my spirit, me?
I walked her to the park yesterday. I just bark orders: get up, get dressed, be ready to go outside. stop complaining. I'm not particularly proud of how it comes out of my mouth most of the time.
She sleeps a lot more during the day. This happens I guess. I'm still learning. I woke later than I meant to which meant I could not take myself out for a walk and then take her.
She got up, dressed begrudgingly, and complained perpetually about her damn back. She told me it was my fault she was in so much pain since I was so late giving her her Aleve. Truthfully, again, at that point, it had been exactly 15 days since I had given her an Aleve. That morning's pain med was a Vitamin D3.
As we walked, I stayed a few steps ahead. Walking next to her, I was sure to get an earful of moans and groans, and that endless, "ooh, oh...this darn back." I hate it every time she says it. With each audible moan, I took a quicker step getting away from her and just a little further ahead.
With each street crossing, the complaints grew louder. I was kind enough to make sure she crossed safely, then once we crossed I immediately picked up my pace getting far enough ahead to be out of range of her daily whiny ritual. We get closer to the park and all I hear is a steady stream of blah, blah, blah, blah...
We get there. I position her in front of the rail and say, "breathe it in." She wants to sit, so I point to her seat on her walker. She makes a face. I look away; roll my eyes.
Eventually I push her in her walker like it's a wheelchair.
"Whoa, wait a minute. Where're we going? I don't want to go so far that I have to walk so far back."
"We're going right here."
I push her over to the gate by the benches, face her out towards the river, then sit away from her. There's no conversation between us. I don't want to talk. It's the same conversation: pain in her back, going home, taking care of herself.
We sit there for at least an hour before a woman with a fluffy little dog walks over to her and the next thing the two, the woman and my mom, are talking up a storm for a nice long time. At this I breathe a deep breath of relief.
This journey takes the best out of me and hurls that part clear out of this universe. What's left behind is a bitch.
As we make our way back home, new woman and her dog in tow, the first thing we come to is a pretty good size hill. It's short-ish, but the drama begins: oooh, oh, ow, ugh....
"Oh, she's stuggling. She needs help." The lady says with a sad downward turn to her mouth, eyebrows pinched.
"Nope, she's putting on an Academy award winning performance. She'll be fine."
"I guess, I just get so concerned. It's my nature. I never had kids so when I was a nurse I put too much into my patients treating them like my kids."
"Oh. Drama is who she is. She'll be fine."
"I just get nervous."
"It'll be alright."
Sometimes, it's just so hard to sit that bitch down inside me.
My year of hate
I can't believe how angry I am so much of the time
But what I hate is..."