Friday, April 5, 2013

Update on My Mother

I haven’t written about my mother lately, because I haven’t wanted to bore anyone with my own frustration and unhappiness.  But in the spirit of full disclosure, and for anyone who is wondering, here’s an update.

At 93, she remains at home, with 24-hour care.  I took her car away about 18 months ago when I had the feeling that she might be failing, and that is the one thing she has not forgotten.  She has been telling people that she is quite sure I hoodwinked her doctor into diagnosing her with moderate to severe dementia, that I am after her money, that I cannot be trusted.  (“I know her,” she said, shaking her head, refusing my ex-husband’s best efforts to defend me.)
She makes sure to remind me on a regular basis that I hurt her terribly by not dedicating PRETTIEST DOLL (Clarion, 2012) to her.  On once being reminded of the fact that I dedicated my first book (NATALIE SPITZER’S TURTLES, Albert Whitman, 1992) to her, she said, “I don’t care about that.  I want to tell you how I feel.”

I have tried to manage my own reactions to her by reminding myself of this statement.  My mother is no longer interested in lawyerly argumentation, a clear and evidential presentation of the facts.  (Actually, she was never much interested in facts, but she knew how to pretend that she was.)  She wants everyone to know how she feels, and how she feels is terrible, awful, as miserable as anyone has ever felt before.  It does no good to remind her that she has no physical pain of any kind, that she lives in her beautiful apartment with big windows overlooking lush oaks and willows, that she is free and able to take walks alone whenever she chooses, that she has two nice ladies who cook and clean and watch Maury Povitch reruns with her all day long and at deafening volume.  (“Gina, do you like Maury?  I love him!”)  My mother is mad and sad, and she wants that made clear.

Of course, she is also terrified, but this is something that she will never tell anyone, ever.  I am not sure she knows it herself. 

I struggle with whether to believe that my mother’s often-voiced disdain for and distrust of me is a symptom of her disease, or what she has thought of me all along.  Friends, doctors, and social workers have given me their conflicting views on this.  It’s hard to sort it all out.

My brother remains adversarial to me.  He and I had only the most marginal relationship for much of my adulthood, but I always held out hope that the boy who was my best friend during the first seven years of my life would re-appear.  Sadly, I don’t think that will ever happen. 

I was talking with a friend yesterday about how it feels to know that the only two surviving members of my family of origin don’t like me.  Basically, it is terrible.  But this is not a pity party.  I don't feel sorry for myself.  I am so lucky in almost every other way.

This is a picture that sits on my desk: my mother with my kids when they were babies.  It reminds me that we had so many good times together:
When my kids call my mother on the phone, she tells me, "They're magnificent.  Just magnificent."
They are.  
And I'm glad she still remembers that.

1 comment:

  1. Sigh. Such a waste...

    I love the ending of this story like I love all the endings of your posts.
    Thank you