A Shell of a Woman

The reversal of roles between parents and children is such an odd place to be, but required. Knowing full well that while I am still the parent to my children, years and hopefully many years from now, they will be caring for me and making good decisions on my behalf.

I try to remember this today for the tomorrow. The situation we are being faced with is of my in-laws. Watching the gradual decline over the years, which seems to have increased this past year, even the past two months. As with the world, we have all had to limit contact with others due to Covid19. Even though, through the pandemic, we had to limit our time, we have always had to limit our contact and basically make an appointment to visit through the years that I have been in this family.

It’s the oddest thing. My father-in-law is a stubborn, old man and is and has been controlling with his attitude as well as being verbally abusive, if not emotionally abusive to my mother-in-law. I have often asked her when we get a few minutes without him hovering over her if he is ever physically abusive, which is always no, thankfully. I just hope. Through it all, she covers for him, also lives in denial about a lot within the family and is an enabler to him. If he is giving her a hard time or is being a grouch, she will say it is not a good day to visit, when we call, but thanks for calling. Goodbye.

If we do get the green light to visit, we ring the door bell and wait for their surprised masked faces we came to visit. They are just fine, nothing is wrong and so happy to see us. I have learned that having Aspergers, which runs in their family, the mask can only be on for so long. With her tied to this man, she has also learned the traits and follows along to keep him calm.

Around Christmas, I visited, a surprise visit. I was at the grocery store near their house, calling to test the waters but to see if they needed anything. In her happy, jovial voice saying come on over, I knew it was a good day. As I am in the grocery store, my cell phone rings and it is her, as she did need some things. How about that. Almost ready to check out, she calls again, he wants peppermint candy. Now the visit, to spy out the land and knowing it should be a short, nice visit.

Something had surely changed. Things were not as clean and neither were they. As I helped her put away what groceries she requested with some added treats, I knew they enjoyed, I was somewhat taken aback by it all. This is not good, not good at all. Apparently, not bathing is normal with age, dementia or Alzheimer’s or whatever we are facing. There is no need to even mention a doctor’s visit or anything outside of their four walls, as he would not approve, so she suffers, too.

Recently, since we were expecting a bad snow storm this past week, their son (my husband) and I both made a surprise visit, if allowed, only giving them about forty-five minutes to clean up their act, appearance, etc., which not happen. In just two months, they both have deteriorated and while her hair looked cleaner, it was matted down. How can that be? He was looking like a mad man sitting there, now with long hair and a beard commenting he cannot see. I had never seen this man with a beard or looking so disheveled. The house was not clean but it was not nasty, yet. Things are slipping.

Again, no need to mention an eye appointment or a hair appointment, it’s not worth getting him all riled up and kicking us out, which has happened with the older son.

Their son, my husband, was just over there two nights before because they were not answering their phone. The mind can only think the worst in that situation. The phone was unplugged and neither had a clue how that happened. Plus, forgetting he was over.

Also, the toilet was clogged the day we both stopped in, so he fixes it while I am listening to both of them blame the other for that problem. In my mind, I’m thinking it had to be one of you, while quietly laughing to myself as this played out. You did it! No, you did it! At least through all the chaos around me while visiting, it was entertaining, even though so sad.

With the groceries and a hot pizza we brought, I again helped her put things away but then I stood back and watched her again. The lady was lost. Not even knowing what to do with paper towels or what to put the pizza on to serve him. I hesitated while watching her stand in the unknown of her mind and I said, a plate. Immediately, she looks at me and smiles with a wink and says, yes a paper plate. For a moment, with the smile and a wink, she returned, as that was my sweet mother-in-law. Gone again within minutes, staring at the pizza.

I mentioned her sister, the church, the pastor and various topics in our time together with nothing to follow, just a look. I really don’t think she remembers any of them. Repeating often of the weather and snow storm, as that was of interest to him. Many times, she would chime in with, “Are we going to get snow?” The repeating did not bother me, as I went through this with my own mom. It’s the fact of how far she had gone downhill, so quickly, in two months.

While I don’t do this out of disrespect but of record, as I did with my aunt while in the nursing home, I put my cellphone on silent and snap pics, in an indiscreet way, they never knew. I feel more than ever, it is time to keep track of their health and well-being. This year will be one of decisions for their three sons to make, although it will all fall upon my husband, their middle son, and myself. Knowing he will put it on me. I need to be ready to state my case when it comes to some immediate things, like taking the car keys away from her, hiding her keys or letting air out of a tire or disconnect the car battery. Yes, she still drives, but only to the grocery store, which is near. Still, that’s dangerous now, with the thought of seeing their photo on the local news as a missing couple.

The sons think they are fine, just getting older. True! They did years ago, when trying to convince them, we have a problem developing. I think the whole family lives in denial.

When leaving, I am holding my phone in a direction to snap a pic of her while talking about the snow storm again. Even in the freezing temperature, she walks out on the porch to say goodbye. She does that because she knows that task still. My pic of her when I got home and look at it, she is lost. There is nothing alert in her facial appearance standing before me, the eyes are dim, somewhat fixed, as nobody’s home. A total hopelessness over the years have taken her over. Now what do we do? How do I direct their son(s) in the next phase?

The lady in this pic has more life in her eyes than what I saw in my mother-in-law. The strong one caring for her husband is becoming non-existent. I could and can deal with her, I don’t know if I can deal with my father-in-law. Help me Jesus!

Sitting at the kitchen table, I see bills and their checkbook, wondering if she is even capable of continuing this task. Nothing has been set up for a son or sons to be in charge of such financial business for household or medical circumstances, unsure of benefits when they pass or what are we are up against. They are and have always been private, his control and being so stubborn. It was hopeful to ask her but now that is gone, we lost the window of opportunity. When the inevitable happens or even a medical emergency, we will be scrambling to locate paperwork. It is coming, too fast and too soon.

His mom is an empty shell. So sad, as the words she spoke to me just ten years ago, after her retirement; soon after being held as a prisoner in her own home by him, saying, “This was not what I was expecting.” She felt hopeless back then and in all of those years, now hopelessness is so visible, she has given up as she is just a shell of a woman.

Parenting Your Aging Parents When They Don’t Want Help

https://khn.org/news/parenting-your-aging-parents-when-they-dont-want-help/embed/#?secret=SJzqRkegVh

https://www.agingcare.com/articles/how-to-handle-an-elderly-parents-bad-behavior-138673.htm

Why Won’t Your Alzheimers or Dementia Parent Take Showers

https://artsyfartsylife.com/why-wont-your-alzheimers-or-dementia-parent-take-showers/embed/#?secret=PtizhOFio0

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.seniorlink.com/blog/tips-for-dealing-with-stubborn-elderly-parents-with-dementia-50-expert-tips-for-communicating-gaining-cooperation-understanding-behavior-and-more%3Fhs_amp%3Dtrue

https://www.agingcare.com/articles/taking-over-parents-finances-what-you-need-to-know-143865.htm

Thanks for reading. Any input is welcome if you have experience in a situation, as such. ML

Exodus 20:12 Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you. … Instead, we have to trust in God. But the point is clear: as parents got older and are no longer able to provide or care for themselves, the responsibility is passed to the children.

You Are Just Like……

Stress and worry over this virus can cause such a panic, even if you do everything possible to prevent it from attacking. Nowadays, do we even know how to trace back to whomever, as many have not taken the necessary precautions and still feel like they are immune. I don’t want to believe it is real but it is. I have had way too many people I know in the hospital dealing with it and some as far as hours of being put on the ventilator.

This past week, I had a co-worker succumb to the virus. He was in an induced coma for a month, vitals were good, then a tracheotomy and days later a heart issue appeared. No doubt that is what made the final breath. A friend in Florida, the same.

Knowing I have A-Fib, my chances are high but we never know how it might affect others, even in good health. What an evil virus, it is.

This past weekend, I had plans to go hang curtains at my son’s new house, but it just never worked out. Everything fell into place but walking in the door. I found myself frustrated but I can only do so much. I went home, somewhat aggravated at my son and the whole situation.

Little did I know until two days later, he was asleep due to a fever. As a mom, my inner screams were let me in, let me take care of you son. All the precautions somewhat go by the wayside. It did not happen. Looking back, I was prevented from entering his home and plans were diminished, which I hope to think was the Lord protecting me.

Still, now knowing details, but my son was sick. To know now that he was sick and I could not get to him, I feel like a mom failure. Is it failure though or protective? If he would call today saying, ‘mom I need you.’ I’m there. I would take my chances. In that though, he is young and will get well, I’m old and could die. I know that he would feel guilty. What to do and what not to do.

We have stayed in contact and his older brother, just ten minutes away from him where I am an hour away, knows to check on him also. It definitely gives this mom some relief and less worry. I know when I am sick, I do not think to look up information or feel up to taking medication, ask for help, etc.

Knowing how I am, I guess others are the same, I don’t know. Just let me be. I have sent him locations near him to get the Covid19 test. Last night, I sent Urgent Care locations to go get an X-ray, shot, meds. Thankfully, an Amazon delivery arrives today with an oximeter, etc. Over the days of him dealing with this alone, I can tell him some things to do to help prevent pneumonia, which he gets easy, stay hydrated best with room temperature water, etc. All I can do and have done is give him direction and the tools to get through this. Will he?

This morning, I send a gif of a chest X-ray to remind him to go, trying to make a point but perhaps a smile of him thinking, ‘Oh mom!’ Please Go! Will he? Again, I can only do so much. While thinking and praying for him, which is good, it is my constant worry that I need to do more, be there, I need to help him, mom can make it better. No, I need to continuously pray but not worry and stay in peace. I need the Lord to touch my son and help and heal him. My son needs to call on the Lord himself. I have done and given without trying to be overbearing mom, I hope. He has to choose, he knows I want him to go get checked out to prevent pneumonia. Will he?

In life, besides this fever, he knows right from wrong. He is independent and a smart kid, but he is also very hardheaded. I will say stubborn also. Sometimes he pushes my buttons and causes me more gray hair. It is at these times, I sometimes think or say jokingly (not in a bad way as we both have good and bad qualities), ‘You are just like…. your father.’ I stop and realize and say more seriously, ‘You are just like…..me.’

He will and I will get through this and many other situations in life, as we have in the past. As our independent, hardheaded and stubbornness collides, I’ll still say he is like…. his father although I know the truth, he is more and just like me.

I love this child, both my children, and I pray for both, of course, but he keeps my prayer life active, as I told my sister the other night. She also has two sons and understands. The worry comes but it is when we put our trust and faith in the Lord to watch over our children, to protect them, lead and direct, where we cannot do them justice, as He can. We have to let go and let God.

Mom, Don’t Go There!

Those little boys of mine always fun and also a lot of work, but I would not have changed those moments together, unless to add more.

Where did the time go? Just yesterday….. as we have all said at some point. The kiddos were little and we were worn out. It seemed like high school took forever, but I remember that being my case also, when in school. The college years flew and they never returned home. An empty nest was an adjustment as the house was quiet and mom’s kitchen was clean. Oh, I miss those days at times with a house full of neighborhood kids hanging out, even the talking, laughter, odors and messes.

My boys grew up to be wonderful, adults and makes this mom so proud. The time in between visits is less than I prefer but I remember being young once. Life gets busy, we all work and they have their life to live. Still, it’s nice hanging out with our adult children.

The roles have reversed somewhat. This past weekend, I hung out with my boys as my youngest was moving. A move always will bring about a contact, “Hey mom, want to come down and help decorate my new place?” I knew that meant more than to decorate but off I went to help and spend time with them.

This day of moving was on his twenty-seventh birthday so that made it even better, for me. I’m sure he’d rather be hanging out with friends and drinking a beer but he was stuck with his mom and brother hauling boxes out of one place to another. It was all good, us three together, but exhausting.

The next day, him and I finished the last few hauls to the new place. Exhaustion was an understatement but we pushed through. It was when he was to go for a final walk through with the previous landlord but he sent his roommate and did not join, but his name was on the lease. I did not care for that. I made a comment about his name on the lease but knew to shut up.

This child of mine is twenty-seven, he is an adult. Whatever the reason to not go and finalize the closure is between him and the landlord. Not mom. Actually, it took pressure off me, as I have no control. He has and will make decisions I may or may not agree with but he knows he has to face consequences if a wrong decision or circumstance. I have seen him work through situations, not asking for help or a handout, which makes me proud. Sometimes, if he would just listen to his mom, it would be easier. Right?

On my hour drive home, I was thinking about the move, our conversations and knowing he is at a fork in the road with his business due to the pandemic. He is a true entrepreneur and will figure it out, he always does.

Driving and thinking back also on my young, single days, as he is, I made some stupid decisions and have regrets. We all have. It’s part of growing up and being mature and independent. The words, I wish I did, I wish I didn’t, if only I could go back, I regret, etc., those moments are done and over. Hopefully, through each circumstance, we all have learned a lesson. Some do and some don’t.

The independence of this adult son, both sons, continue to grow and mom is not needed as much. While I am proud of them, I find it sad. I see the tide turning, as I add their names to my emergency contacts. I seem to ask for their advice more and for help, if needed. I’m not a nursing home candidate yet but my stage in life is gaining ground.

As there is distance between us, it takes time to organize to visit, and the days pass so quickly. I often wonder if one day they will regret not calling or texting mom more or visiting, etc. I would say that is a rite of passage for all parents and children, which is sad. I want them to remember their mom as being their biggest cheerleader in life, that they never had to wonder if they were loved, I was always available 24/7, even for those 3:00 a.m. calls, as my youngest knew I would be there for him and to pray. Remembering our laughter of silly times together or knowing I would always help clean, catch up on their laundry, decorate and hang curtains that I hope to finish this weekend. I’m there for them, if they want or need me.

It’s probably a good thing we live an hour away. Mom has her place but not in their business. They are doing fine on their own. I am one proud mom.

https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/prayer/11-encouraging-prayers-for-your-son.html

https://www.crosswalk.com/family/parenting/pray-for-your-adult-children-11607227.html

https://lysaterkeurst.com/2014/01/17/10-prayers-for-your-daughter/