Monday, June 28, 2010

Another rough day

I took Mom to the bank and out to lunch today. She was pretty bad at the the banker a hard time about her accounts and her CD. She was rude to me as well...telling me that I was talking too much! All I was trying to do was help her. It is so clear that she is worried about how to handle her finances. This was something that Dad always did...but she struggles with it every time we go to the bank. After we left, I told her she really needed to behave in a nicer and kinder manner with people..including me. She basically just blew me off.

She told me on the way to lunch that she needed to go to there we were in the bra section again trying to find a front closure bra. Thankfully, I found her size again and we were out of there in under a half hour. We glanced at clothes for a little while, but when she started getting difficult, I told her we were leaving.

Next stop, Ivar's on the Seattle waterfront. I finally found a parking place and then pushed her the two blocks to the restaurant in her transport chair. Once we got there is took a long time to get seated, an even longer time to get water and menus...and an eternity to finally get our meal. Mom doesn't talk much when she eats. She stays pretty focused on her food and struggles when she drops food on herself.

After lunch, we drove to the grocery store to pick up some dish soap and a money order. Mom has to pay her utility bill to a company out of state. She refuses to send them a check so we go to the store every month to get a money order.

Mom wanted to stop and shop for a baby book for Pamela and Haven, but I told her that I was tired. We had been out almost 5 hours and I was just exhausted both physically and mentally from her difficult behaviors. I got her back to her apartment and got her in the door. She started crying and apologizing about messing up her blouse at the restaurant. I told her it was a just a blouse and could be cleaned in the washer. I stepped into getting her new clothes and helping her get dressed. She accomplished all this in her living room and didn't seem to be self conscious at all. I just went with it because it seemed like it would take too much out of her to get her into her sleeping alcove.

Once I got her dressed, she walked me to the door. We looked at her beautiful view of Puget Sound out the window. She looked at me and said "I know that I am not as in control as I used to be". Trying to make light of her remark, I said 'That makes it a lot easier on those of us who know you". The joke went right over her head.

I kissed her on the forehead and walked down the hall to the elevator breathing deeply. I know she is weaker and weaker. I know she is really depressed about being alone. She tells me she will only live another year. I write all this down so I can go back tomorrow and start all over again with Mom.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

3 years....

Today is the three anniversary of Dad's death. Mom has been very upset about this for the last two days. This morning I called her and found her sobbing again. She begged me to bring a photo of Dad over to her. Of course, I was on my way out to do my errands, so I told her I would bring her a photo later in the day.

It was almost 6pm by the time I got to her apartment. When I gave her the photo the first thing she said was "You only brought one?" Always one to be critical. I told her how great it would be if she could say something like "Thank you so much for taking the time to bring me this photo". Oh well, that is just the way she has always been...and mostly likely will always be during her lifetime.

We sat and talked and looked at the photo. She said over and over that she just doesn't understand. Her loss is palpable. The sobs and lack of understanding are all signs of deep grief. To Mom, it is like Dad just died. That is how raw the wound is for her.

I wish she could be in a better situation...but like most difficult people, she has fought me every time I have tried to move her into an assisted living facility. Now she sits, day after day in her apartment counting planes as they take off and land at the airport. It breaks my heart, but the doesn't seem to anything I can do to improve her situation.

Next Monday I am taking her to the bank, the grocery store and to lunch. As I left I hugged Mom and she said she was looking forward to Monday..that it would be "our day". One more indication of how she is struggling with the new circumstances in my life.

For more details, go to my other blog at :

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day

Dad has been much on my mind today. I made breakfast for Mom this morning and of course our conversation turned to Dad. She said he was "such a good guy". I have watched her deal with his absence for almost three years now. This coming Wednesday will be the third anniversary of his death.

We had such a close relationship, that he will always be part of me. His way of living his life is always in my mind. His patience in the face of difficult times or difficult people is also with me.

I don't know how he managed to deal with Mom for 60 years. She has almost put me over the edge just in the last couple of months. He was her caretaker. Now I am her caretaker.

I am not always successful or happy with the way I deal with Mom's moods and irrational way of thinking. I do know that Dad is my guide in this challenging task.

I am glad I have so many good memories of him.

I am blessed that he was my Father.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Everything is still the same....

Mom continues to be a complete pill about the fact that I cannot drop whatever I am doing to cater to her every need. Yesterday she wanted me to race out and buy a Father's Day card for my brother and then make a special trip to her apartment to drop it off. This on a day when we are cleaning and preparing the house for the arrival tomorrow of our daughter from the hospital after being born prematurely on May 18, 2010. Pamela and are are preparing to spend the night with her in the hospital and bring her home tomorrow. the scheme of things, the Father's Day card for my brother was not that important.

I lost it with Mom on the phone and just told her that I wasn't available and she would just have to wait. She has no respect for me, my life, my family life or anything that resembles me be an adult. She will be a bully and a narcissist to the bitter end. Every conversation these days ends in a fight. I just can no longer tolerate her irrational and mean behavior.

I think she has been especially needy and demanding ever since I told her about the baby. In some sense, Mom wants to be the baby. She was cared for and looked after by my Dad for 60 years. I have no idea how he tolerated her illogical and abusive behavior. I am not sure it was because he loved her, but rather felt responsible for her.

I asked him once about all he did for my Mom. At that point in their lives they were no longer married but he saw her all the time and took her out shopping, for groceries, bought her a beauty parlor business...all kinds of things. He said he did all this because she was the Mother of his children. That was it....I was amazed then and I am still amazed by this 35 years later. So simple, and so direct. And such a huge burden to take on.

I am not my Dad. I did not chose my Mother as a partner. I did not marry her and then get divorced her only to remarry her 20 years later. I understand why he did what he did, but I cannot and will not take on that same level of responsibility, even thought Mom wants me to.

I have never been the girl or woman she wanted me to be. I have never been a mirror of her, which is the narcissist's ultimate need. She will never understand me or my life. I will never really understand her or her life. I am just trying to do what I promised Dad I would do...take care of her and keep her safe. She fights me every step of the way...and perhaps that fighting spirit was once the thing that drew my Dad to my Mother...I will never really know.

I do know I just do what I can when I to day.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Mom and Dad's official wedding picture - August 1947

Mom in front of her apartment - May 2010

I may have mentioned that my Mother's idea of fun is shopping. She is a browser. She loves looking at clothes, shoes...anything associated with her appearance.

Yesterday we went bra shopping. Mom needed bras that clasped in the front. She can no longer reach around and snap a bra together from the back. So there we were at Sears looking for bras. I knew this was going to be another of our "needle in a haystack' shopping expeditions. Mom always seems to want and need something that is difficult to find.

I worked with the sales clerk for awhile to narrow down the area where the bras could be found and finally located a couple in various cup sizes. Mom was looking for a particular size, but she has lost weight, so may need something smaller.

I picked out a few for her to try on and wheeled her into the dressing room. I sat there watching as she tried them on. I am always amazed at her 90 year old body. I wonder if I will look the same should I have the good fortune to be 90. The surprising information that Mom shared today was that she had always disliked her breasts. I understand in a flash that Mom has struggled with self image and self esteem her entire life.

It became clear very quickly, that Mom was having trouble hooking any bra. Her hands are arthritic and weak. I helped her a little, but told her she had to pick something she could snap together on her own. I am not there when she dresses, so it is important that we find something that she can manage on her own. I convinced her to try a camisole, but she was not thrilled with that look at all. She wanted the traditional bra.

I went back and forth bringing new bras for her to try. I had a flashback to when I was 13. Mom and I were at the old Bon Marche downtown shopping for my first bras. Now the roles are reversed. I am the one bringing in the bras and helping her try them on. Once she got going it went pretty well...but we always go through a price discussion that is long and difficult. She is a true shopper and always looks for a good deal. Luckily, we found one bra that she did like that was in her price range.

Next stop, panties. I moved her over to the wall of panties and took a few minutes to step away while she looked at the various styles and colors. I find that shopping with Mom is really emotionally taxing. She is both demanding and extremely needy. I have to take brief breaks just to regain my composure. The hardest part is her extreme deafness.

I have to shout to be heard and this both exhausts and irritates me. I wish she would wear her hearing aids and put fresh batteries in them. Perhaps they no longer really help her. I know she is in no position financially to buy new hearing aids. I know there is a vanity factor with her. She has always hated her ears and has no desire to bring attention to them with hearing aids. So here again, I see that she has issues of self image and self hatred.

After shopping, we cruise the mall a little so Mom can look in the store windows. She says she needs to eat and wants a hamburger. I know there is no McDonalds at the mall, so I get her back to the car and drive to the one that is near her apartment.

On the way home she asked if Pamela and I can drop by to fix her TV tonight. I tell her that Pamela will not come to her apartment considering that Mom has been so racist about our new baby being black. She has been better about the baby lately...wanting to buy a gift...but we can't trust her to be positive around us and the baby. I get angrier and angrier in the car. I told Mom that she never takes responsibility for her bad behavior. I explain to her that she can't be so verbally abusive to me and Pamela and expect us just to ignore it.

I can feel my blood pressure skyrocketing as I drive along. I manage to get us some lunch and get Mom back to her apartment. I set out her food and begin to boil the noodles for the dinners I am preparing for her for the next few days. I am trying to bring over home cooked food at least once or twice a week to give her a break from frozen meals.

So many conflicting emotions happen during my visits to Mom. I get tired of talking about the same things all the time. I get tired of trying to explain the same issues again and again. She is currently obsessed with when her lease is up. I have read and re-read her lease, explained it to her in great her that everything is fine.

Mom always goes back to her typical complaint. She hates Seattle. She wants to go back to Arizona. In her heart of hearts she knows this will never be possible. I have told her over and over again that she can't be on her own. We have this discussion several times a week. I am so frustrated that she can't just make the best of it here.

I have told her that I will not help her move. This has been her way of dealing with her own unhappiness for years. Moving ...moving again. It is her idea of finding a new start....but she never has understood that the grass is never greener in a new is still just grass. I watched her uproot my Dad at least 8 times in 8years when they first retired to Arizona. Dad finally bought a condo and they managed to stay there for 18 years before she forced him to sell it. Now she would like nothing more than to be living in that condo.

She is never going to be happy. She is never going to be satisfied with her life. It is both sad and frustrating to watch her make everything and everyone around her suffer with her unhappiness.

Mom said that I had changed while we were eating lunch yesterday. Her inference was that the changes were not good changes. I told her the big change was that I was not putting up with her verbal abuse any more. I don't just give in to her moods and tantrums. I tell her there are limitations on what I can and can't do for her in any given situation.

It feels like I am dealing with a willful child most of the I have to put up boundaries and make them stick. This is the only way I know how to protect my own sanity. I have had to set up a structure that protects me, protects Pamela and Haven, and keeps Mom safe. My brother did this years ago and now I understand why.

Helping Mom is easy task. I often feel pulled in too many directions. Writing is the one outlet that seems to help me sort through all the emotions and conflict.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


Mom is smiling in this recent photo, but in reality she is having a pretty tough time these days. She has no idea why she is still alive. She misses my Dad in a way that just breaks my heart. Today she said that she missed him so..and began to cry. They were in each others lives for 60 years...through good times and bad times. She is lonely but won't consider assisted living.

I often leave her apartment totally depressed. I wish that she was not so fearful of the world. I wish that she would just try to be a little more open to new ideas. I wish she would agree to live in retirement home of some kind. I wish I could get her to see a doctor. I wish she would acknowledge that she is profoundly depressed and seek some kind of medical help.

As always I have no idea where her personality disorder leaves off and her depression and dementia take over. She often losses track of the days. Her recent racial outbursts may indicate dementia or her personality disorder. She has no memory of some things that happened when Dad died in 2007. Her short term memory is getting worse. I encourage her to make lists for the grocery store. Sometimes she does and sometimes she forgets to do it.

She was beside herself yesterday because her TV stopped working after my brother tried and failed to make some adjustments to improve the picture quality. He just walked away in frustration and left her with no TV. I have been trying to fix her digital TV tuner for two days now to no avail. This is a big problem because TV is her window on the world. Without it, she sits and stares at the walls of her apartment and spirals down into depression and hopelessness.

She is still managing her bills, but told me she would let me know when it is time for me to take them over for her. There are many subtle sign posts along this road that let me know that things are changing. She is slowing down and not coping as well as she did even six months ago.

She says she wants to die and regrets that she is in such good health. I really have no idea what her health situation is now. I do know she has lost some weight and has not taken any of her medication for diabetes or her heart for many months.

She has a strong constitution for someone her age. It is sad to see her so upset about being alive. She feels useless now. She can't walk very far, but still manages to do her laundry, housecleaning, and cook a little.

This situation puts me over the edge on a regular basis. I am trying to do the best I can to take care of her and help bring some comfort to the remainder of her life.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Acting out

Mom and I are currently not going to be talking for a few days. She unleashed a torrent of verbal abuse that included both racist and homophobic comments. I just can't be around her for a few days. She was crying and upset on the phone today, threatening to move back to Arizona. I told her she should go knowing full well she wouldn't be able to organize such a large move at this point.

I am sick and tired of her critical and mean comments about my relationship with Pamela, our newborn and me. She actually said I was crazy today because I "love a black woman". Like this is news...we have been together for 14 years!

I am emotionally exhausted with her behavior, her abuse, her illogical way of seeing the world.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Just when you think it can't get any worse...

I have not had time to maintain this blog and my new blog "Our path to motherhood" since our daughter Haven was born on May 18, 2010. To keep up with that story please go to my other blog at:

Mom has been alternating between good and evil behavior for the last two weeks. Today she was good for the entire time I took her to the store and her doctor's appointment. Her eye and scalp are bothering her again from the shingles she was diagnosed with in April 2007.

The evil part came when I got her home along with her purchases. She has been especially bad around my family, meaning Pamela and Haven, our newborn. Her racism towards Pamela and Haven has truly been disgusting to listen to for the last two weeks. She told me today that I should be taking care of her, not Pamela and the baby. I told her again that Pamela and Haven are my family and I will continue to care for them. Mind you, this was said after I had spent the entire afternoon taking her to the doctor, shopping and then the pharmacy.

I am generally a patient person, but this latest verbal abuse was just too much to bear. I picked up a soft pillow and threw it at her. She promptly threw it at me. I threw it back. There I was reduced to a childish temper tantrum that matched her's throw for throw. In a final shot, I informed her that Dad had called her a bitch from his bed in the nursing home, just days before his death. Of course, she called me a liar. I could have spared her that last comment, but I just was so infuriated by her mean behavior, I lost it. I had already prepared her dinner and left it by her chair, so I just walked out and locked the door.

When I arrived home, I walked into the kitchen, burst into tears and told Pamela the latest horror story. I just don't think I can do this much longer. I think the hardest part was watching her be the "nice little old lady" with the doctor's assistant and the doctor. There she was regaling them with stories, hugging the assistant, being cooperative. I was left with the racist, selfish, verbally abusive mother I have known my entire life. Why is it that she can be so great with complete strangers? I will never understand her or her motivations.

I am going to take a few day off after I drop off her latest prescription tomorrow. I am emotionally exhausted.