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Ducks in a row

By Robyn
Posted on

I had the conversation with my parent.

When I tried the first "conversation,” you would have thought I was making her climb Mt. Everest!
 I lost my biological dad some years ago, but the point is that he had all his “ducks in a row” so to speak. I can not tell you that beside the grieving, how not having to think about the “end” aspect of things made it much more bearable to just grieve, yet celebrate his life.

Three years later, my step-dad was diagnosed with lung cancer which lead to his “passing” very quickly. He, on the other hand, had “NO such ducks in any row !!” He left my mother with a horrid mess of such a financial chess game, that’s it’s hard to believe how on any earth she managed to come through. Obviously, there is no convenient time to pass away for anyone, but 17 credit cards, 2 cars, a boat, and personal property later, my mother triumphed. But, this story isn’t about the yin and yang of the two dads…it’s about my mother and where we are now.

Mom still lives in a house that screams “hoarder”, (not the kind you see on television, but darn close. All the signs are there. The piles upon piles of “STUFF” covered with blankets, so as to deny their existence. My saying, “mom, let’s just start going through this maze of piles, one by one.” She, replying, “not now, it’s too much to think about, I’m tired.”

You see, a year ago, I almost lost mom to a blocked colon, and a nearly necrotic appendix, which the doctors did not know about till they went in. Instead of a two hour surgery, it turned into four. Very scary as I am looking down at her post surgery and she had no clue as to what had happened and how close she came. She had beat the cancer diagnosis, along with having to have a permanent colostomy. She dodged a MAJOR bullet. This was indeed my “aha” moment of telling myself that we needed to have “the conversation !” It was rehab, where she would be con-compliant at times, and a long recovery. I forgot to mention that I live a bit of a distance from mom, so it’s not easy for me to just “get” to her. She was on her own at home and doing all the wrong things. Her bad eating habits got her into this mess and she continued this time with hardly eating. Frustrating for a daughter, who thought that the best years would be these, since in my mind I truly thought she would not even think about just ditching the house with some not so fond memories, get her “ducks in the row” and come live closer to me.

This was when I tried the first “conversation.” Well you would have thought I was making her climb Mt. Everest !!!!!! (which by the way she could never do, because she NOW needs a total hip replacement) I have a pool of special friends that work in the health field and they have done everything to help me, given me information to all but provide car service to get her here, and yet, can we talk STUBBORN, SCARED, DO IT HER WAY OR NO WAY !?!?!?! This first “conversation led to us not speaking for two weeks !

Mom and I have always had a sort of “push-pull” relationship, buy hey, now that I actually am older and way more tolerant, I just never thought she would be the proverbial “bad” patient, and closed COMPLETELY off from any suggestions I may have. Now with the hip surgery looming very near, we are at the same crossroad. Having the conversation, or not…

It just makes me feel extremely sad that my mother would opt to be alone in a house that is draining her of every cent, rather than be in a place where she would no longer have the worries of home ownership. She has even lost two friends in the past six months. There really is noone save for a wonderful neighbor and friend that has helped when I simply cannot be there. In these economic bad times my life is frought with trying to hang onto a dying business, and the fact that I must start anew in a completely different field. To do this, I must go back to school. So, the worry of mom is never far from the mind in the grand scheme of daily living. There are the usual, what, how, when, and why’s every day as to her frenetic thinking.

So here we are, with surgery looming once again, the holidays near, time out of work, being all I can be for mom. I do these things because I love her, we could be having the time of our lives if she were closer, but what to do when someone just feels they must hang on to past memories, clinging to possessions when that’s ALL they are and being so badly drained on a daily basis that it impedes any progress or hope for newness…a proper future for an elder ?

I will continue to ask myself this everyday, and maybe with the help of faith and the higher power, I could possibly have the “conversation” with mom and this time she will be accepting. One can only hope!

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