Friday, December 24, 2004


I'm letting the phone ring audibly today and tomorrow... case anyone should decide to wish the Holiday Grinch and Her Mother a Merry Christmas, etc. Much to my and my mother's delight, we've already received a call from her eldest grandson, one of the few nieces and nephews with whom we both have an extended and much appreciated history. Aside from being an all around amazing man, we had a good, delighted laugh. After my mother spoke to him and handed the phone to me, at one point in my conversation with him I called him by name.
    "Oh!" my mother exclaimed, that's [First Grandson]?!?
    He heard her in the background and chuckled.
    So did I. "Yeah," I said, "now she really enjoys having talked to you!"
    My mother caught the joke and took it in humorous stride. I think this is one of the aspects I appreciate most about my mother's old age; she is completely relaxed with her Ancient One Quirks. As I was reminded by the behavior of her roommate at the skilled nursing facility, it is heartbreaking when An Ancient One is distressed about their own display of The Vagaries of the Ancients.
    I dialed the phone so my mother could thank MCS and MCBIL for the lovely flower centerpiece and MCS and I had an excellent conversation. Much to my delight, she was to my immediate side in the Flower Shop Debacle so I guess we all inherited the desire to enhance the Holiday Season with a touch of pepper. Talking to her gave us a chance to "celebrate" our ambivalent disappointment that the flower shop came through with flying colors.
    Mom's down again for a nap after a decent (3 hour) "up" interval. Although her day began lively enough, she was awfully stiff, complained of a "hitch in her giddy-up" (meaning her hips and knees), was so not-there when we played Sorry that I snapped at her for moving the pieces with her arm and not breathing through her nose. I finally upped her oxygen to 3/lpm which will trigger puffs with mouth breathing. At one point I blurted, "I get so tired of having to monitor my body and yours, too," and then immediately burst into tears, told her that this didn't mean I didn't want her around and asked her to forgive me.
    She looked at me as though to say, "Forgive you for what? You come by your ass naturally, it's your father's you know; I just ignore it."
    I burst out laughing.
    Firebug that she is, Mom wanted to immediately light the candles upon seeing the arrangement but I convinced her that it would be much more atmospheric if we waited until after sunset, turned on the tree, lit the candles and watched Christmas movies in a provocative holiday atmosphere.
    I haven't decided whether to try an informal exercise session today. Today might be one of those days when it's best to let her do what she wants instead of trying to make her want to do what's best for her.

    Night before last we caught the movie Marvin's Room. You'll notice, in the IMDb link, it mentions nothing about the movie being about a caregiver to an elderly relative. Aside from being a superb ensemble piece with no false performances, it is, indeed, about caregiving to the elderly within a family. I was blown away at how appropriate everything in the movie is to the typical "lot" of caregivers to elderly relatives. The caregiving sister hadn't planned to be caring for her father and her aunt for twenty years. It just happened. Despite all the Good Advisors' blah-blah about "plans", etc., I suspect, since this was the scenario in the movie, this is typical of caregiver situations. As well, several other aspects of the story rang true:
  1. The unintended tension between the caregiving sister and the sister who pursued her "own" life, specifically in regards to the "other" sister not understanding that the caregiving sister also had her own life including friends and lovers, of which her sister was unaware.
  2. The fact that some of this tension involves the perception that The One Cared For and the caregiver would be better off if The One Requiring Care were cared for by professionals.
  3. The unintended tension that arises when the caregiver is too busy and too exhausted to send cards, letters, special day acknowledgments, etc, either on her own behalf or on behalf of The One Cared For.
  4. The "on display" atmosphere surrounding visits of other relatives to the caregiver and The One Cared For.
  5. The sometimes hard to accept fact that an outsider sometimes notices something about The One Cared For that the caregiver, in her daily ministrations, misses.
  6. The fact that visitors often feel rebuffed by the supremely and necessarily well regulated 'trifles' of the life of the household in which The One Cared For resides, and find it hard to accept, or take seriously, such regulation.
  7. The fact that the caregiving child is also, for whatever reason [and, there are many roads to this destination, some of which would surprise those who pursued marriage(s)] the "remained single" child.
  8. Lastly and most stunningly, this specific caregiver's admission that she has "known such love," which the other sister interprets as meaning the love the caregiver has received. The caregiver corrects: No, she says, she means the love she's been privileged to give.
    The last point blew me away. A few years ago, after my mother's care took an upward, decidedly intense turn, one day in the midst of doing some curious, intimate chore for her while she was recovering from something (I can't remember what) I realized that I am not only my mother's final companion but most probably the best lover she's ever had. I know her physically better than anyone else has and will and probably better than she knows herself. As a result of all the years of:...through all these activities and more I have become the ultimate lover of her life.
    I know that since I've never been and never will be a mother there is an aspect and knowledge of my mother's life of which I will never know, in which I will never share. It is an aspect all three of my sisters share with my mother through a deep, moving bond that I cannot imagine. It isn't a part of my nature to participate in this particular mother-daughter bond. It is, though, well within my nature to be here, now, with her, as I am and to hold her in exactly the way she needs and wants to be held as she polishes off her very unique life. Because I'm doing this I've realized over the last several years, just as did Diane Keaton's character in the above mentioned movie, that I am among the ranks of the luckiest children.
    I intended to use the above discussion as a reminder to write that essay that's been moving about my thoughts for the last several years which I entitled, at the time I realized it should be 'essayed', I Am My Mother's Lover. I think, though, I just wrote it, so I'm adding it to the essay list as is, where it is.

originally posted by Ann: Fri Sep 14, 07:20:00 PM 2007

Hi Gail,
I took your lead and started viewing a little bit of your "essays" tonight, due to the fact that I'm "normally fatigued" by the time I come online.
I just read your remarks about the movie "Marvin's Room" and I definitely want to see this movie. I had heard of it long before I started this journey of ours - caregiving.
Thank you for sharing those intimate details that you share with your Mom, and I look forward to reading much more. Ann
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