Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.

7Apr/102

The Opposite of My Mother

Mom was having a bad day yesterday. She tried phoning the house at 10:30 to say I shouldn't come out, but I'd been gone all morning and was already headed out the Gresham. She didn't answer the door right away and I could hear her dog whining a little at the door. When she finally did I could tell immediately she wasn't alright. Her blood sugar was a little low and she was very nauseated, immediately lying down on the sofa with the crackers she was trying to eat.

I'd picked up a gluten, soy & sugar free muffin from Sweetpea for her as part of my morning errands and put it on a plate for her. As she started to try and eat that I took out her trash and put her outgoing mail in the drop. I went up to the office for her apartment complex and had them make a key for me. I also had them put my contact information down for emergencies since Mom's husband is sometimes up on Larch Mountain and could miss a call quite easily.

When I got back to the apartment she'd managed to eat the whole muffin and felt a little better for it. Mom hasn't been very forthcoming with details, so I tried to get a few from her about her health. Aside from just wanting to have a more complete picture of what is going on with her health, CK and I are hoping that an early October date for our wedding will be soon enough for her to be there.

Mom ended up saying something about it not mattering. She is so happy for CK & I and she loves CK. She doesn't mind it if she has to miss our wedding. Mom ended this exchange with the comment that if she had to feel the way she was feeling at that moment for many months she'd rather just die now.

And it hurt. It really hurt. She totally missed the point that maybe we were trying to have a wedding when she was well enough to be there for my sake, for our sake. That we wanted her to be there. I left pretty soon after this exchange to let her get some rest.

Later in the day she phoned me and we talked for a while. I said I wanted her to make sure I could speak with her doctors. Ultimately what I found out was that after being informed about the cancer Mom has cut off most of her contact with the doctors. She was referred to an oncologist, but felt like she was being pressured to sign up for tests, chemotherapy and all the things she doesn't want to go through. She hasn't done much of anything since, falling back into a typical behavior for her - throwing up her hands and refusing to deal with the situation.

I ended up talking her through some things. EB had advised me that Mom is entitled to ask for a hospice team and CK noted that Mom should be referred to a palliative care specialist. She's been given a very serious diagnosis and she shouldn't feel that she has to choose "treatment". I told her on Thursday we could look at some things at Kaiser. She also agreed to try acupuncture if I would help her find someone.

Once again I found myself stepping into the role of the "grown up" in dealing with my Mother. I've been the adult in our relationship most of my life. Even now we are each falling into the roles we know best.

I feel pretty beat up today. It hurts seeing her suffer, the familiarity of it has never lessened the pain of it. The inevitability of eventual death for everyone doesn't in anyway soften the blow. Her behaving exactly as I expect her to, exactly as she's always done doesn't make it any less painful. There's a part of me that just wants to scream at her and ask why she cannot be the grown up at least once in my life.

But she can't be the adult. If she couldn't at the rare times she was healthy, to expect her to do it when she is dying isn't very reasonable. As painful as it is for me to have to once again take care of things, especially the arrangements for her approaching decline & death, it feels wrong to mimic her. I really would rather throw up my hands, claim despair and not deal with all of this, but I have always done best in life when I choose to behave the opposite of my Mother.

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  1. I send you my best thoughts.maybe you can find solace in the thought that this is the time in our lives (age wise) when our parents begin to decline and taking the adult role is what happens. So at least this time it is "normal". No matter how much it hurts ans sucks and is not fair.

  2. I am so sorry about your mom.She is a lucky mother to have a caring daughter like you.


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