When I think about aging parents, I think about that Death Cab for Cutie song, “What Sarah Said” and I’m reminded about mortality, responsibility and the inevitability of death. And when I reflect on my own personal decision to have a child at 20, it made sense considering what happened to my dad when I was 17 and what is happening to my mom now that I am 26.
I spoke with my therapist last night. She asked me to envision life as a single parent. As a divorced parent. And I wasn’t on the emotional plane to address it before so we went there via meditation and all I could see was my son, Jackson. Being there as a mom for him. Jumping out of a plane with him. Scuba diving with him. Falling asleep under the stars with him. And when she asked me what it all meant, I still wasn’t sure but I said I wanted to be there for him. I wanted to be able to be that parent that experienced these moments with their child. I didn’t want to be the one watching from behind. I didn’t want to be like my parents. I realized I could do all of this regardless of my marital status. I realized what was more important to me was being a parent. And that I order for my son to be fearless, I have to lead by example.
So as the side story goes, I thought about it some more today. That it kind of ties into the fact that I have experience with older parents and how their deaths/illnesses have caused a sort of manifestation of this fear of prematurely dying. The whole mortality thing.
My mom has been in a senior home since last October/November due to her Alzheimer’s and it’s going to sound so crappy but it really has been for her own good to be there. The thing is people like to pass judgment without knowing or better yet wanting to know all of the extenuating factors that go into a situation. Sure, it’s so easy to say, “I’d never do that to my parents … etc.” but you don’t know until you’re there. You don’t know until you come home and your house is almost on fire because they insist on burning trash in the house, they’re throwing your cats outside because they felt like it, they’re leaving the house whenever they want and getting lost because they have sundowning. And this is just what typically happens in a week.
I’m watching my mom’s head go down the drain. She can carry a conversation with me. She knows who I am. And she’s dead set on getting the hell out of there and getting her independence back. Everyone she talks to thinks that she is okay but she’s not fooling me. I’ve known her all of my life. I know every curveball, every bit of manipulation, everything. But she doesn’t believe she had stroke only because she doesn’t remember it nor does she believe she in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.
And I don’t want to, but now I have to file for a power of attorney and for legal guardianship over her. I know she is about to serve me papers soon. I know it’s going to get ugly really soon. But I can’t let her sleep on the streets anymore when she goes out and can’t find her way home and refuses to call me. I can’t let her live out these fantasies of being able to go back into the workforce at 71 after several TBIs thinking it’ll be alright. I have to be responsible. I have to take care of her the only way that works best for both of us because no one from her side of the family wants to deal with her anymore. She refuses to live with me and I refuse to give up my sanity. I love her. So much that I am willing to be the one she hates until she dies as long as she is safe.