The calls are starting to come from Mom’s friends and relatives. I disconnected Mom’s phone at Emeritus last Monday and I haven’t had the chance to call folks to give them the heads up about where she’s gone and why. For the most part, people understand that I have been too caught up in facilitating these changes to call individuals to inform them. If everyone who cared used email, it would make this easier. Many do not, so when they try to call Mom and get the disconnect message, they call me.
One of Mom’s friends from her Florida days, a lady Bob and I love dearly, called yesterday. We talked for a good long time. She had visited us back in February, about a week before Mom fell out of bed. She admitted to being disturbed by the visit, not so much by Mom’s mental state, but because of how she looked. Mom always took pride in her appearance, applying her makeup just so, styling her hair and putting together nice outfits. The day of her visit, Mom clearly wasn’t hitting her usual notes, and it was painful for her friend to witness. The realization that her friend was morphing into a different person was hard for her and she couldn’t get it out of her mind.
I gave her the synopsis of the last few months and Mom’s adventures through rehab, psych hospital, ER and Emeritus. She was very sympathetic, and was kind enough to ask how I was doing. Truth be told, I’m a lot better now than I was before Mom was transferred to Potomac. There haven’t been any frantic calls to action. I feel like she’s in the right setting and being cared for appropriately. And I’m taking way better care of myself.
One of the nicest things she said to me was “I’m so proud of you.” These are words I’ve had to pry from the jaws of my family over the years. Compliments never flowed in our house.
This reminded me of and incident, back when Dad was still alive but very ill and living with me, where I called Mom on this duality; I knew she often bragged about me to friends and family, but she could never say it directly to me. And her pride in me did NOT translate to her actions. She was often rude to me and very demanding. I finally reached my limit.
I told her that she had to understand that Herb was my father and this was hard for me, too. While losing a spouse is admittedly much harder than losing a parent, it still hurts and I was doing the best I could. I told her others had told me that she expressed her pride in me to them, but she never SAID IT TO ME. “And the way you treat me doesn’t translate, Mom. Can you try to be a LITTLE nicer to me?”
She looked down and nodded. She got it. She would try.
Mom’s friend closed our conversation saying “I know, one day before she passes to a better life, your mother will tell you she’s proud of you.”
Well, there’s telling and there’s showing. In my mother’s current confusion and paranoia, one thing has remained consistent: she trusts me. If I tell her something, she never argues, but accepts what I say. So if she never does say the actual words before she gets to the other side, I will always take pride in knowing that I always did my best for her and she knew it, no matter what. I can live with that. I am proud of myself.