Happy 80th Birthday, Mom!

Happy 80th Birthday, Mom!

Just about to hop in the shower and pick up my sister from the airport to celebrate our mother’s 80th birthday! It’s a miracle she’s with us. She’s a survivor of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, stroke and vascular dementia. She’s a fighter. Proud of her.

Saudi Arabia
Thanks for moving me to Saudi Arabia and teaching us respect for other cultures.
Best Sister Ever
Thanks for giving me the best sister ever!
Acropolis 1970
Thank you for traveling the world with us. Acropolis, 1970.
Cashel Ireland 1970
Best 7th birthday present ever. Cashel Ireland, 1970. So green after five years in the desert.
MA
Next two years in Cambridge, MA. Gorgeous fall colors. Snow! Free Boston Pops on the Common. Thanks for taking us to the ballet and art museums.
Palance of Fine Arts SF
Pretty sure you made those dresses! Here we visit the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, the city where you and dad met and made me.

Flight Back Home

Friday, July 15th

Last Saturday, the day after we returned from Oregon, my mother was psychiatrically hospitalized for the third time since her stroke last November. Yesterday morning, I met with the treatment team at her psychiatric hospital. They do not think she needs long-term psychiatric placement. They believe her memory care community is the best placement for her and that she’ll just likely need regular “tune-ups,” returning to the psychiatric hospital when she refuses to take medication and her mental health deteriorates.

Luckily my parents’ house sold, with escrow closing yesterday. This morning I met with a financial planner to invest the proceeds from the sale on behalf of my parents and schedule regular withdrawals to pay for their care. Long-term memory memory care is expensive.

OR Trip
Oregon was beautiful and offered a relaxing break.

Flight Back from PDX to SNA – July 8, 2016

Before returning our rental car at PDX, we stopped for gas. While making a pit-stop, I received a call from my mother’s memory care community which I let go to voicemail. Inopportune time to take the call, as my purse hung on the restroom door handle out of my reach, and I didn’t want to dribble, squat and waddle over to answer my phone. Instead, I’m sharing the impolite (and perhaps amusing) imagery that came to my mind as the phone rang (to temper the vulgarity of the scene, my ring tone is Take Five by Dave Brubeck – yes, I love jazz).

The voicemail confirmed that once again my mother refused to take her medication and threatened violence against the nursing staff at her memory care facility. Once again, time for psychiatric hospitalization. This is getting old. Really old.

I fear my mom may need long-term psychiatric placement. Locked psychiatric care 24/7. Do not know what is available. Time to reach out for help. Time to research geriatric psychiatric residential placement for mom. Fuck.

That’s all I have to say on the matter. I do feel myself coming to tears. I fear, too, ending up like mom. Crap.

Shit.


Now I’m just spent. I did have a good time this week in Oregon. It was a nice break from my life, from my responsibilities, from the mess and clutter that is our house, from the mess and clutter that is my life.

We went to the wedding of one of our many nieces last night. They wed under Cathedral Bridge (St. John’s Bridge). The bridge is built with stunning Gothic arches and a backdrop of trees along the river. Then we had an incredible dinner at Plaza Del Toro. Very upscale and gourmet. So delicious. Loved it. Wish we had that kind of food in our neighborhood.

I look forward to getting away again and again and again. I need these breaks, these respites.

 

Writing on a Plane

Travel Journal from Las Vegas to Portland

On my way, our way, to Oregon to visit family. Tonight driving out to the coast to stay at the Adobe. Tomorrow Jennifer is visiting from Australia. BBQ at in-laws to celebrate and to meet her new boyfriend. Will then have to stay in Newport at the Shilo Inn. Because we waited until the last minute, we were unable to get reservations for lodging in Waldport. 4th of July, or in this case, the 3rd of July, when they do their fireworks, is a big deal in Waldport.

Do not look forward to it, actually. Being around that many people can be overwhelming, overstimulating. Plus, Matthew is likely to get a migraine. We will have nowhere to go for respite aside from the car (and the beach itself).

Tomorrow night and Monday night, when we stay in Newport, we may rent a second car so that Nick can go to and from and Matthew and I can stay at the hotel and order room service or go shopping, as there is no sales tax.

This is boring. Writing this. Who cares


Caregiving

What am I thinking? I’m thinking that I DO NOT want to be a caregiver. I DO NOT want to be blogging about being a caregiver. I was looking forward to having free time to develop my blog, my writing, start speaking. NOT taking care of mom and dad.

So, here I must decide to back off. For my own good. They are being taken care of. I know I will get phone calls. Hopefully less so as mom settles in to her latest placement. She’s been a challenge to accommodate.

She’s doing better now that we’ve separated her and dad.

So, I will leave her be. Let her adjust. Allow her caregivers, her memory care to do their job. I will back off. I will not go above and beyond the call of duty.


Journal

What do I do to help Matthew? Fuck it. Fuck taking care of Matthew. I brought meds. Just let him deal. I must figure out how to take care of myself. I’ve noticed recently how sensitive I am to external stimulation. I’m raw. Jangly. All nerves. I’m spent. Burned out. Need another spa weekend. Need to recuperate.

Deep breath. Relax.

Perhaps… Perhaps I could turn off my phone more often, or let it go into voicemail when I get calls regarding my mom…

Got to make Matthew get a driver’s license. Need him to be able to drive. Realize he’s young, but it would really help. Too much to drive him to class for just one hour. Ridiculous, in fact. Perhaps his class schedule could change. How would it best accommodate me, my needs?


Matthew keeps on bringing up issues with equipment. We buy him the best, then he complains and asks for more and more and more.

Like mom, a sponge. I must say NO.

NO. You figure it out. You call for technical support. I will not continually buy you new devices. NO. If I can use my computer for over a year and just send it in when it needs repairs (which is a pain in the ass, granted, I admit that it is and that I’ve had problems with my laptop screen on more than one occasion).

He and I both use our computers more than most. For most of our waking hours.


Here I am on Southwest flying from Las Vegas to Portland. Direct flights were too expensive when you wait until the week before 4th of July to buy tickets. We flew Orange County to Las Vegas, so we vacationed for a little over an hour in Vegas. Had lunch in the airport. Vegas is a trip with all the slot machines in their airport.

Last time I saw slot machines in an airport is when Nick and I married. We flew in and out of Reno, marrying at the Cal Neva on Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe is gorgeous. Our wedding photo has it as our backdrop.


I am fatigued. Deeply fatigued. I could just sleep and sleep and sleep.


Lots of parents bringing their infants to the bathroom for diaper changes. Now we have a line. Downside of sitting in last row of an airplane.


Here I free-write, as I did at the last OC Writer’s write-in. Wonder what I will use. What I will post. Whether I will do a data drop and just publish this and other writing that I’ve done. Wonder whether anyone would enjoy reading this.

I prefer to craft my writing. Edit. Rewrite. Who knows. Maybe I can do a dump every once in a while to show people what I do at times.


This is, perhaps, how I think. Perhaps it provides some insight into how I think. Why anyone would care, I don’t know.

I was tempted to go back and read and edit what I’d written, then thought better of it. Free-writing is free-writing. Just let it flow. Just go with the flow.

How often do I write like this? Not often enough. But I do have bits and pieces of unused writing on my computer and in journals.

Years ago threw out a chest full of my writing. Mistake. Will not do again.


Just finished my seltzer water. Refreshing. Have a headache. Maybe the ice made it too cold. Maybe I’m anxious. Maybe both.

Shallow deep breath, kind of deepish breath, okay it wasn’t deep at all, but I do need to relax. Instead, I shall work myself up into a… I don’t want to type work myself up into a lather – just too lame. Work myself up into a tizzy – also lame. Is it okay to say lame? Politically incorrect.

Not what you want to do when you free-write. Don’t want to let word choice or political correctness get in the way of writing. Just write.


My eyes
My eyes struggle
Dry
They hurt
Can’t wait to land
Then long drive to coast
Three and a half hours
Will take forever
The day of endless travel
Plus I can smell shit
Oh, the joy of sitting next to the toilet
Feel like throwing up
Crap
Feel like it
Can smell it
Shit
Feel like it
Smell it
Thank God for flight attendants and air freshener
Much better now
Though still exhausted
Still spent
Need rejuvenation
Need Matthew to start taking better care of himself
Maybe I can pay him to…
I’ve offered to pay him to take driver’s ed
He drags his feet


Want to sell minivan
Nick taking forever to “fix” it, to ready it for market or for donation to charity
Want to sell my parents’ car, too, though I like driving it, actually
Prefer driving it to the Honda Civic
Makes sense to wait until Matthew is driving to buy new car
Only need two cars
Mistyped only need two cares
Two cares
What two cares do I need?
What two cares can I limit myself to?
Must care for myself
Must care for my marriage
Must care for…
Yes, I must care for Matthew, but less so than before
He’ll be 16 in a couple of weeks
Time to be more independent
Time to push him out of the nest
So, is he afraid of driving because he gets migraines?
His school is close…
I think he’ll feel safer driving himself than having me drive him
I’m not the best driver in the world
Spacey driver
In my head too much
Do not pay enough attention
Getting ready to descend
Yay!
Time to pack up
Almost
They haven’t told us to lock our trays yet
Guess I can type a few more lines of words
Whether or not I have anything of substance to say
Looking forward to being out of airplanes and airports
Looking forward to driving out to the Central Oregon Coast
Beautiful drive
Nick will drive
I will sleep
This time I reserved a mid-size car
No more “Speck”
We always get the cheapest car
Cars so tiny that we can barely fit
Not this time
I insist on being comfortable on this trip
When we arrive
When we are in Newport on Monday morning
We’ll have to look into renting an Enterprise car for Nick
Turbulent no
Fasten seat belts
Put tray table back
Not sure if it’s about time to pack up my iPad
Anker keyboard works well with Apple Pages app
Many apps it does not work so well with


This stream I typed after having read the in-flight magazine
After playing Solitaire
On my phone
1450 words so far


Not sure I have any more words to share, any more words in me right now, but since it’s not yet time to pack up my iPad, I’ll continue.

Must care for myself. Must distance myself from my mom. For my own good. She drains me. I’ve always had to protect myself from her, yet I remain enmeshed. Must separate. Feel guilty. Like I’m a bad girl, a bad daughter, a bad person. Like I can never give enough. Yet, the more I give, the less I have left. I cannot give when I end up drained, spent.


This I’m not so sure I can share, but here it is. The thought, the wish, that my mother die to spare me. Extreme. Felt it as a much younger woman. Hatred, anger toward my mother. Love her, too. Complicated. When my mother once stormed out one afternoon when my sister and I were adolescents, saying she was leaving, moving out. We said goodbye (and thought good riddance). She, our mother, soon called back home and asked us if we wanted to go to a movie. We said sure, and the three of us went to see Airplane. Ambivalent, for sure. I haven’t shared in detail the complicated relationship I have with my mother. I am heir to her illness. She never admitted to having a mental illness. She never admitted to ever making a mistake or being wrong. I can’t believe that I am still dealing with this shit. That I haven’t yet worked through it. My psychiatrist keeps asking me how my sister managed to not get so entrapped and enmeshed. I think it is that she let herself see and feel her anger at our mother, at our parents, early on. I did not. I internalized it. Took it upon myself. Martyred myself.