Thursday, December 20, 2012

Just Visiting

Well, I went back to Utah for an audition this past weekend.  The audition went well, by the way.  I am optimistic.

For the first time I can remember, being back "home" didn't feel like home anymore.  I truly felt like I was visiting.  I suppose that's good.  It means I'm learning to let go of Utah and my previous responsibilities dealing with Mom and her health and embracing my life here with Jonah.  It's a good thing.

After being Mom's primary caregiver for so long, it truly felt weird not to be in charge or to be everybody's go-to guy when there was a question about Mom.  In some ways, it felt nice.  In others, I feel bad that I don't have the same responsibilities or same input as I did before.

I really had to drill into Mom that this was just a visit and that I wasn't staying.  She has missed me a lot (likewise for me), and I really think she was hoping I'd stay.

Truth is, Mom has deteriorated even in the short month and a half I've been gone.  She's convinced she was living somewhere else for a while and is back in her house even though she's always been in that house (at least for the past 50 years), and she informs me of this every time I call.  She forgot her own brother's name, and even when I reminded her, it didn't seem to register.  She thinks my brother-in-law took us on a tour on a trip we took to New York back in 1989 even though my sister didn't meet my brother-in-law until 1999 or so.  She's forgotten how to take her blood sugar on her own even though it's something she's done on a regular basis for years.  She couldn't remember her hairdresser that she's been going to for 35 or 40 years.  She tells me my niece and nephew are living with her as if it's complete news to me (even though we all cohabited for a year).  We're worried that she's not using soap in the shower (and she doesn't remember to use soap when she washes dishes, apparently.)

Whereas when I left I was skeptical that Mom might be ready for assisted living, there is little doubt in my mind now that that is where she is headed.  Her dementia has gotten bad.  My niece and nephew had originally planned on staying just until June, but there is a chance they may stay longer because they feel Mom isn't as aggressive with them as she once was.  They say she is very childlike and isn't very resistant to doing what she is reminded to do.

I hope they stay longer.  These assisted living places are so pricey.  We will likely have to sell Mom's house to pay for it, and there is certainly the possibility that she will outlive her money.

Some of the places we have visited have been very nice, but most have been out of Mom's price range, even with some of the financial assistance possibilities there are.  I think when we eventually reach the point when Mom has to move out of her home and into one of these places, she will be resentful and upset at first, but will grow to like it and maybe even forget she was in her home at all.

It's the resentful, upset part I am not looking forward to, but I think it will give everybody greater peace of mind if she is taken care of there rather than worrying about the times she is alone in her house.  I think it will allow her to be more social, will help better regulate her medications, and will allow her to eat more healthy (although my niece and nephew have done a good job at getting her to eat better).

I'm starting to reach the point where rather than lamenting the loss of the woman my mom was, I'm trying to make the most of the memories of who she is right now.  I do miss my old mom sometimes, but there are things I enjoy about who she is now, and I figure it's better to embrace it because it's not going to ever be the way it was.

We had a family meeting about Mom and her future.  It didn't go quite as planned.  We started late, and the meeting was cut short because our antsy mom, who was at a friend's house, came back home early.

I can tell my brother is stressed.  My brother reminds me a lot of my dad: kind of a workaholic whose duties to his wife and kids come first, and then his church duties come next; calm and practical and not very prone to emotion; but stressed.  I can tell he's overloaded, and I'm sure the situation with Mom isn't helping.  The thing is, I would say of the four of Mom's kids, my brother is the least involved in her immediate care.  This is not due to an unwillingness to help; it's just that my brother has a leadership position in both his job and in the church, and so he is very busy.

But I also speculate that my brother uses (perhaps unconsciously) work and church duties as an escape.  Maybe I'm wrong.  I think my brother puts above all his duty to keeping his family clothed and fed, and he has to work to earn the money needed to do that.  And I think he puts his church calling second.  But just like my dad did, I think he sometimes drowns in his work and church duties at the expense of his own health and at the expense of his relationship with Mom. 

Perhaps I am not giving my brother enough credit.  I know he does a lot to help my mom in ways I don't perhaps observe.  But I remember shortly before I moved back here to be with Jonah, I reminded Mom that even though I was leaving, her other kids would still visit.  I reminded her that my two sisters and my sister-in-law visited her.  "But not [your brother]" she said, and I had to admit she was right.

That isn't to say that he doesn't visit or love her; because I know he does, and I know it's causing great strain on him trying to figure out how to best help her.  But I also wonder as Mom gets worse if my brother won't regret the time he missed with her.  I get it: he's busy and is supporting a family, and I don't blame him for that.  I just hope he doesn't carry any regrets later on.

I went to my nephew's ordination while I was in Utah.  He was being ordained an elder.  We sat in the high council room, and my nephews and brother and neighbor all ordained my nephew while I sat and watched.  It made me feel excluded, and as my nephew was given some Kleenex to wipe his tears as he bore his testimony, I remember standing in such a high council room shedding my own tears because I was losing my membership in a church I loved and still love.

After these terrible shootings in Newton, Connecticut, I had a long talk with God.  I told him, flat out, that I just can't believe people like Jonah and I are supposedly wicked for loving each other when there is so much selfishness and a lack of love shown by so many others in this world.  I do not buy it.  And when I see people do terrible things in the name of religion and in the name of God, I just find it baffling.  Their actions don't represent the God I know and love.

These terrible shootings have been devastating.  I can't even watch the news.  I just can't.  It's too much for me to handle.  I am normally a very optimistic and forgiving person, but these shootings have really had a negative effect on me.  The innocent lives lost at the hands of a selfish, mentally-unbalanced man simply makes no sense to me.  The only solace I have found are the positive reactions and actions I have seen by those affected by the tragedy and by those who want to ease their pain.

Two days ago, someone stole Jonah's rear tail light covers right off his truck right in our driveway while we slept.  I'm so weary of dishonesty and selfishness.  I'm so weary of cheating and lying and killing.  I'm weary of the taking and destroying of property, lives, and innocence.  I try so hard to see the good in all, but the bad eggs really make it hard sometimes.

But I try to remember how incredibly blessed and happy I really am, and I try to always remind myself that I can't control what other people do; I can only control how I choose to react and my attitude.

Anyway, those are just some of my thoughts today.


LCannon said...

As I told Sunny, we will be able to take mom to any assisted living and ask, "Do you recognize this?" of course she won't. And we'll say, "Isn't this where you lived before?" and it won't matter if she does. The construction has come back and asked to relocate. We'll say, "But you came back before - it could happen again" and if she becomes involved as we hope, she may want to go back - but not to the Midvale house. She'll want her apartment in San Francisco.

And as for the news - it actually hasn't been that troubling - the principal has been honored as a hero and there has been focus on the students and the funerals. Nothing about Adam (though originally Ryan) but there has been debate on gun control. A lot of stupidity from a political standpoint (can you imagine)

I have my next three posts ready - the one on Sunday is another tribute I copied from a facebook post.
The event was tragic - but there's been a positive reinforcement and definite love and support within the community. And I think that is awesome. They need that.

Dean Scott said...

Lots going on in your post - sorry about your Mom. There comes a point when it is harder on you than it will be on your Mom, but that does not make it any easier. Enjoying the moment is a wise strategy - I can vouch for that. It was the route my Mom and I took. It was harder on my sister who longed for the Mom of the past. Lastly, Merry Christmas to you and Jonah.

Gay LDS Actor said...

Thanks, Dean. Happy Holidays to you and yours as well.