Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Earthquake country. What to do?

I have an internal debate as to whether to broach the subject of his mother’s declining health?

On the one hand, she is his mother.

On the other hand, she is his mother.

It’s my birthday so I am older, we both are, and he has noticed that we are middle aged. It is a sad day for him. He is sad with frustration because Nonna’s new television doesn’t work, nor the TIVO, nor the fire alarm, nor any number of household items in disrepair. He worries greatly about these things in part because they are all fixable but other things are not. It is easier to worry about the unfixed things that are fixable. I would be inclined to say ‘denial’ but I’m not a very good American. Feeble Americans would say grief stricken. It’s not as if he doesn’t know. I know he knows. I heard him just yesterday in controlled yell mode, “where is your hearing aid?” But of course a hearing aid doesn’t mend hearing, nor does it restore memory, “I’ve just told you a hundred times, they are married.”

I glanced into the garden where my daughter and her partner sat cringing under the pergola.

There was a catch in his voice. I recognized that catch as I hear it coming out of my own mouth sometimes too. Sometimes it’s the catch of despair other times mere annoyance and I can tell the difference. I’ve had more practice, much more practice. I think I’ve already mastered controlled, cheerful yell for approximately 95% of the day, even when it’s night time. I’m working towards a 100% clearance rate but it’s not easy.

There are only two repeats that cut me to the quick. The first one is the ‘married? / who is that man?’ question and the other is the ‘are they still autistic?’ question, but I’ve learned my stock answer by heart, the words, the tone, the delivery and that helps a lot.

But it’s different for him. I have the degree of separation, no blood, but he’s her only child, very bloody. All the onus is on him, I’m just a bystander in the headlights. I don’t know how to get the balance right between interference and privacy? I’m on unfamiliar territory and the ground is shifting fast.


farmwifetwo said...

It was very hard for my Dad to put my Grandmother into a home. They couldn't (both working), nor would my Mother, care for her in theirs. His Father had had Parkinson's and manic depression as it was called at the time and had fallen down the bsmt steps and was killed when I was 5. Mom didn't want another of those memories and then the guilt on top because he could have prevented it. It wasn't that my Grandmother hadn't already picked where she wished to go and her name was on the list for 25yrs before that day (since my Grandfather had died) but it was still terribly tramatic for all of us. 50+yrs in one home, the one you arrived as a bride....

Everytime she'd come over for supper at our house (my parents) - and Dad & Mom brought her over regularly - everytime we went to see her she'd say "I don't know where I live anymore, I want to go home". Everytime we left she'd say "so and so hasn't been to see me..." Yet you'd just passed them in the hall on their way home.

She didn't come to our wedding. It was here and not there and that was too far for her to travel and have someone look after her etc. She never did know the boys but I have to admit she was always polite about it and simply asked their names and happily held them until we left. She always knew my Dh b/c he came along before it had gotten bad.

That's as bad as it got before she quit eating... and died one day shy of her husband's death approx 30yrs before.

My Oma died of the brain tumour Ted Kennedy has - that was NASTY and my day was Tues to spend with her and feed her supper... Not a hardship since I admit she was my fav grandparent... My Opa of old age (93)... Personally I'd rather go as my FIL did a few months ago.


Niksmom said...

I think you've hit the hardest patch of all...watching as your husband grapples with the realities and realizations. Hard to watch those we love watch those THEY love in decline. Sending hugs and understanding.

Almost American said...

So hard! The degree of separation makes a huge difference. MY FIL had such a hard time admitting that his wife needed more help than he could give. At times it was as though he thought it was his failure somehow and he could not admit to it.

When she lost bladder control and I suggested Depends he said that she'd refuse to wear them. I took her out shopping and then helped her into them and she thanked me for loving her so much. With him she screamed and wouldn't wear them. I would have had a MUCH harder time had it been my own mum though . . . and I know DH has a hard time hearing me when I suggest that his father should not be doing certain things any more.

Chris H said...

You can only be there to support them both, and hope that it will all sort itself out eventually. {{{HUGS}}}

Marita said...

My heart is breaking for you all.

Prayers for your family because I have no useful advice and from this distance can be no practical help.

Tanya @ TeenAutism said...

Oh, Maddy. Thinking of you and sending love.
P.S. My 91-yr-old grandma has asked of Nigel, "He's grown out of the autism now, hasn't he?" ever since he started talking.

maryt/theteach said...

Aw, Maddy, yoou have me filling up with tears...you are a loving and caring person to him and his mother and I don't have the least idea what to tell you. Today I cried in a conversation about my grand-nephew, Jarome,who will be 4 in October and is PDD (I've told you about him but you may not remember) He has trouble controlling himself when it's time to stop one activity and go on to something else but his mother has no friggin' idea how important it is to bring him along toward the next activity but believes he's supposed to obey her when she speaks and tells him no.
But that's my story that makes me sad. Just know I think I know how you feel as "not the mother." And how much you wish you could make his like, her life, your life happy. :')

Patois said...

This makes me so very sorrowful. You are all doing so much. Such a difficult task. My prayers.

Trish @ Another Piece of the Puzzle said...

My husband and his siblings have been trying to get their dad to see that he needs to talk to his wife's doctor about Alzheimer's medication. It is very painful for them to see her decline and know there are ways to slow the progress, but can't do it themselves.

It is definitely hard because I don't have the same emotional attachment to her but I feel their pain of wanting to help but not being able to convince their dad to be proactive about it.