Confession

Time is a little fuzzy right now.

Sometime a little more than a week ago, I flew home because my mother had to have emergency surgery for infections on her spinal cord.

Sometime, about a week ago more or less, my oldest friend's father died.

Sometime between then and now, my father decided that - to help with my mother's mobility when she got home - we needed to redo the floors in the house in addition to trying to clean and move things about.

My mother, have I mentioned, is a hoarder? My father, by the way, enables this.

My older sister and my mother have a rotten relationship in which each takes anything the other does as a personal affront. Also, my sister has a tendency to steal from or take advantage of my parents. My younger brother is 30, lives at home, and previously owned nunchucks. Neither are useful for anything like helping.

For example, when my sister heard my mother was in the hospital, she called me, 1/4 crying, 3/4 angry, because when she'd asked a nurse for information the nurse told her she wasn't authorized.

"DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOUR MOTHER SAID?" she screamed into my voice mail. "SHE SAID SHE DOESN'T HAVE A DAUGHTER!"

After a 30 second rhetorical analysis, it was revealed that in fact my mother had not talked to my sister, being unconscious from pain pills and two incisions into her spine. But instead, the nurse had said there were three people authorized to get information: my father, my uncle, and myself.

Sometimes my sister misses the point.

Also, she didn't notice how she said "your mother."

The funeral for my friend's father is Monday morning at an hour which only proves my theory that nothing good happens before 10 a.m. As a child, I spent essentially every weekend at my friend's house, as the battle between my sister and parents began when I was fairly young, and the need to mediate wore out even 8-year-old Curmudgeon. His father was the picture definition of terse. We used to joke about him talking like Yosemite Sam, but he never actually let on if he was rightly annoyed that they had essentially adopted me on the weekends.

My friend took care of his father at home for several months as he battled cancer and a hip replacement.

He also did this for his mother a few years back.

He's my hero.

Tonight, after cleaning up several bags of trash that were not even a dent in the already metaphorical crater that is my parents house, I found myself angry. Angry that I get claustrophobic in the house I grew up in. Angry that bags and bags of trash didn't cut into the boxes and boxes of useless shit that litter this place. Angry that I have possibly done something to my right rotator cuff (a friend's diagnosis) in the process of shifting crap around but not actually getting rid of most of the problem.

Angry to the point that I don't particularly want to go see my mother tomorrow even though she's more or less confined to bed in a rehabilitation facility and most of her God loving church friends stopped turning up two days after she got there. Angry at myself for feeling that way. Angry that I took a job intentionally knowing it was away from my family because after 10 days here, I begin to get claustrophobic and antsy and feel bugs which probably aren't quite so imaginary crawling on me, and yet I feel guilty about it. Angry that I'm not quite the good son my oldest friend is, who found it in himself to clean up his parents and potentially lose his job and who just lost his girlfriend and yet kept on and said, like a made-for-TV-movie hero-to-be, "I just keep on."

I'm tired.

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7 Responses to “Confession”
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kermitthefrog said...

I'm so sorry for everything you're dealing with, Dr. C. It sounds like you have every right to be angry at your family's lack of support.

Best wishes for your mom's recovery and to your friend.

June 6, 2010 at 8:21 AM
Brigindo said...

I'm sorry for everything you're going through. I'm sure you know that anger is a completely normal and very healthy feeling to be having right now. You also probably know, deep down, that you're amazing friend was angry a great deal of the time he was caring for his parents.

It sounds like you're doing a lot for everyone else. Make sure you take some time to do something for yourself. Losing your life for your family is never a good idea. Caregivers need to take care of themselves so they are there for the people they love. If you get out of the house and away from the situation for even an afternoon it can make a huge difference. (Of course going to the funeral does NOT count as getting away--going to a bar does.)

June 6, 2010 at 9:22 AM
Notorious Ph.D. said...

In many ways, I have some similar family dynamics at work. My mom hoards: my dad compulsively organizes and labels the boxes of hoarded crap. Sibilings: even weirder.

So: my sympathies. May we grow up NOT to reproduce the same family dynamics.

Maybe you could get your sister to steal some of the hoarded clutter?

June 6, 2010 at 1:07 PM
Sisyphus said...

I'm sorry everything is sucky and stressful right now. Sending hugs! (I swear they don't add to the clutter.)

June 7, 2010 at 2:38 PM

What Brigindo said. Your friend was just really good at tamping down the anger. Moving away was probably a great coping strategy on your part. If you're going to be around there for awhile, you have to have some time off.

June 8, 2010 at 12:44 PM
af said...

So sorry to hear this; my sympathies. It occurs to me you might try hiring someone to help clear out the house; maybe the hospital social worker can identify people who work with the elderly on this kind of thing. It is very hard to do on your own.

June 9, 2010 at 9:17 AM
profacero said...

Hiring someone is a very good idea. Asking the hospital social worker to recommend a specialist is an excellent idea.

June 12, 2010 at 1:01 AM