This month of September I have been focused on undertaking one of the most difficult tasks of my adult life.
For years my mother has lived alone and isolated, by her own choice, in a condo in Southern California. She distanced herself from friends and family. She neglected her own health to the point where getting out of bed is accomplished only with great difficulty. She is frighteningly underweight and weak as a result of not eating.
None of us knew just how thin and weak she had gotten. Over the phone she insists she is fine. She deflects any questions about her health, even getting defensive.
Toward the end of August she had a back seizure that landed her in the ER, then skilled nursing rehab and respite for two weeks. It’s the sort of thing that could happen to anybody at any age. But in her condition of starvation, she jsut doesn’t have the energy reserves to cope with this kind of thing.
This happened right as I was about to go to PAWMA camp. I didn’t know whether I would have to cancel and fly right down to CA or what. I didn’t know what insurance was responsible for, what the skilled nursing facility was responsible for, or even what questions to ask of whom. I couldn’t get phone calls returned. What information I did get came late.
Aunt Vi and I flew to CA in time to bring Mom home from respite care. We got her to agree that she couldn’t live alone. But she resisted making any decision about where she did want to live. So I was put in the position of making the decision for her. I’ve been having to make those decisions ever since.
I’ve had to move my mother out of her condo and put it up for sale. The plan was for her to move into assisted living near cousin Barbara. The assisted living facility we found for her (we showed her two and let her choose) didn’t have a room immediately available, so she was to stay with Barbara for a couple weeks at the most.
It was a good plan. Now it’s gone to hell in a handbasket. She’s gotten so weak she can’t get out of bed without assistance. Her legs are so weak, she can’t support herself, even with a walker. Assisted living is now out of the question. She can’t stay with Barbara past the end of next week. And I’m here in Oregon, once again with insufficient information to make the decisions I’ll be called upon to make and execute.
Barbara keeps telling me not to feel guilty. I don’t. I feel angry. I am angry with my mother for neglecting her health to the point where she is practically an invalid. It didn’t have to be this way. But it is this way and we all have to deal with it.