May 15, 2015
I called the State. I had to call the State. Dad had not been taking care of Mom. He had been filling her up with fried chicken patties and French fries. He left her to take his “rides.” He expected her to take her medication, even though she couldn’t remember whether or not she had taken them the last time.
It was simple enough and yet it was large enough to crack the delicate siblng relationship. I am a mandated reporter, which means that if I am aware of a situation of neglect/abuse to a child, a woman, an elder, I must report the situation to the DCF. Department of Families and Children. And I am her daughter.
The next day, Mom had a visitor. When the doorbell rang, she welcomed a lady whom she did not know, and who became her “new friend.” Who knows what they talked about. Enough, I’m sure that when my father returned and told the lady to get out(!), she said that she had been called and she was trying to help.
When I called Jo and told her, the words flowing like a river from my mouth, she stopped me and called her husband over to the pone. “Listen to this, dear,” she said. And she asked me to repeat. I told them I had contacted the state and that a social worker was on Mom’s case. They were…. well, delighted. They assured me I had done the right thing. They told me to give their contact info to the social worker, because they had much to say as well.
I remembered then, at a time when I was working out of state, the calls from Jo when Dad threw her out of the house for coming to vacuum and make lunch for them once a week. She and her spouse had had the nerve to purchase a microwave to make meal preparation easier. When Dad hauled it up from the basement, P took it back. I remembered that Jo had long ago said she couldn’t bring her son, who was very young, into that house because it was so dirty. She would go down herself and try to tidy up, but that place needed not a dusting, but a steam shovel to clear the floors. The rugs were torn, the covers for the sofa and chairs were rags, and Jo wanted to get some new covers, but they said no.
You have to understand that there was no yelling and screaming. There was talking, but the parents were not listening. Actually Mom may have been listening, but she did not seem to understand. Besides, she (silly Mom) expected that her husband would protect her, till death did part them.
As I tried to keep up with my own work, my mind was brought back to the time my mother suffered a near-fatal heart attack. My brother and I had called one another, and driven down (I came 40 miles and he came 20 miles) to the ER. When I arrived I couldn’t find my brother until he same out and said the doctors said not to expect much. We waited until Mom was wheeled into a CICU room, on a ventilator, asleep.
By the following morning Mom was awake, eating breakfast, chatting with the nurses, feeling good. When I asked if she was in much pain, she snapped back, “Should I be?” So she recovered, and went back to that home with that man, and time went by, little by little compressing into solitude (her own) and apathy (his, I dare say). We “kids” were not welcome, except for our brother, who was always welcome.
At one point M took too much medication. She called me and said she wasn’t sure. I checked with her doc who said she would be okay, but should not be alone. I reported that nugget to everyone. My brother tried spending the night with her, but he could not sleep at all, because M had insomnia and kept coming in to ask the same questions repeatedly, and he had to be up early to go to work. I told him to hide the meds, but Dad put them right out on the kitchen counter again.
I am amazed that I am still so angry. It’s actually the depth of my anger – still so powerful – that frustrates me. I sometimes wonder why I am so angry at him …. Shouldn’t it be obvious? And I sometimes wonder how Jo and her hubby understood and my bro and the others did not.
Of course, things changed dramatically, as they do. One late night within the past month, Mom called 911, thinking she was having “an anxiety attack.” Once again, my brother came from home in the middle of the night, and I came south from my place, and we met in the ER, where M was awake, telling us she had had to go outside the house to ask for help. We didn’t learn for many weeks that a neighbor helped her to call 911. Where was Dad? In the hospital with a nasty infection that required surgery.
Bottom line – by the end of the week, Mom was admitted to the nursing home. Dad, recovering nicely from surgery, was there too. However, he took a turn, developed sepsis, and died within a few days. Mom understood he was dying and they were able to spend one very passionate hour talking and hugging, until M said she was very tired. Alone again … naturally?
Mom didn’t have Alzheimer’s but some form of dementia, a loss of oxygen to the brain which required a stent, which needed to be replaced after a while with another stent. Of course, nobody knows how long her brain was robbed of oxygen or what damage that may had done, or anything scientific. I do know that my mother seemed to “fold into herself” at some point and was never the same again.
Now I experience, once again, that Mothers Day is a bittersweet time.