I’m working hard. Pushed myself to do a few more laps today. I was doing 75 but yesterday, I decided if I could do 75, I could do 80. Today I decided if I could do 80, I could do 85. So that’s what I did. I lost another half pound today and I’m pleased. I’m pushing myself to do more each day.
It’s a concept I’m trying to get across to Mom; when she answers the phone. She’s going downhill fast and doesn’t seem to respond to anyone or anything. She’s sad and depressed and won’t eat or do her therapy. It seems like she slides a little further behind with each passing day. I think she’s given up. Everyone is being as supportive as we can but she just doesn’t seem willing to try. Who knows? At almost 87 years old, maybe she’s tired of trying. Still, we all love her and want her to be able to come home so we keep trying to coax her, bribe her, bully her and push her to do what she needs to do. It’s not working.
My sister and I are very strong. We always have been. Although, I admit, I kind of let myself get depressed and fall apart the last couple of years. Still, I’m back at it. I haven’t given up. People think my sister and I take after my mother but they’re wrong. My sister and I are strong because we’ve always refused to be like our mother. Mom is very passive aggressive and has very little motivation or drive. She’s always preferred to blame others for her position in life.
My father knew it. He wasn’t exactly known for his great empathy for others but even he saw it. I remember one time when he was really sick and we knew he didn’t have much longer. He said, “I worry about your mother. She has the lowest self-esteem of anyone I’ve ever known.” And I was surprised that he saw that. He was strong and gruff but he was also very loving. It seems like my mother spent her life controlling him through her passive aggressive tendencies. She would say, “Why don’t we go for a drive?” and he would say, “Why don’t we go tomorrow? I want to work in the yard today.” She would say, “Just forget it. It’s not important.” and he would follow with, “No, if you really want to go, we’ll go. Let’s get the kids ready and we’ll drive up to the lake.” But Mom wouldn’t have it. She’d say, “Just forget it. If you don’t want to go, we won’t.” and then it would become a battle with her. She would dig in her heels and there’d be no way Daddy could make it right. She’d tell us that we would have gone for a drive but daddy didn’t want to. I can’t begin to say how many times she’s voiced her regrets about things she wanted to do but “Your daddy wouldn’t let me.”
“Your daddy wouldn’t let me.” doesn’t mean anything. My father got mad occasionally but he was never physically abusive. He never laid a hand on her. He loved my mother and he loved his children. He wasn’t perfect by any means but he was a good man and he tried. It was almost like she wanted him to get mad at her. He’d get so exasperated he’d say, “Dammit, Jeanne! What do you want from me?” and then she’d tell us that Daddy cursed her.
Mom comes across as this sweet little lady and everyone loves her but her self-sacrifice comes at a price. She prefers to be a martyr. She thrives on being a martyr. That way, she never has to be accountable for her life.
And now, she’s using her passive aggressive behavior to avoid getting better. She tells her therapists, “I’m just not able to do my therapy. I’m too tired. I’m too weak.” and she refuses to eat. “I don’t want anything. I’m not hungry.” and all the while, she’s getting weaker and weaker.
I called her this morning and talked to her for maybe three minutes. Four at the most. At that point, she told me she was too tired to talk anymore and I could call the nurses station if I needed to see how she was doing and then pass the word to all the siblings. Little sister went in to see her and discovered the phone was gone. She told the nurses to take it out of her room because she just doesn’t have the strength to talk anymore. Told little sister to just call the nurses station from now on to see how she is and pass the word to the rest of us so she won’t have to take calls.
Tomorrow, I’m driving an hour and a half each way to see her. I’m taking her lunch. Making my chicken salad which she loves and taking sliced homegrown tomatoes and fresh peaches. Some of her favorite things. I’m telling her that I will move in with her and take care of her for at least a month if she’ll just make enough effort to get out of the nursing home. All they want is for her to attempt her therapy and they’ll release her. My brother lives with her and my sister is just down the street. We’re all willing to pitch in and help however we can but she has to make some effort to help herself. If not, she’s going to die. It’s that simple.