Never Ending Dysfunction

My sister has been staying at my mom’s house for a visit.  These visits are tremendously stressful for her because she will harbor the ideas of guilt of what she should be doing for her mom, but her ideas of what she could be doing rarely turn into action because she becomes quickly overwhelmed.  My sister and my mom can’t get along but they have this relationship where they can’t leave each other alone and I often play odd man out.

I went to visit, a bit of a drive from where I live.  I thought we would have some lunch and that would be it.  As soon as I get there, I can see my mother is struggling to keep up with being able to live alone.  I don’t know that she takes her meds appropriately.  Any suggestions of what could be done to make her life easier are instantly shot down.

At this point my mother is angry that we have confronted some of the issues that she struggles with.  She takes her anger out on my sister who has been drinking during her stay with my mom.  Now I more than anyone understand the anger and frustration with my sister’s drinking.   The things my mom says though are unspeakably cruel.  She calls her a slut multiple times, she says she wants nothing to do with her and that she(my sister) is not her daughter any more.

At this time my sister’s normal reaction is to bolt.  She usually ends up in a bar somewhere.  This time she tells me she can’t take her life anymore, she is depressed and wants to get help.

So we go to the emergency room and work our way through the system to see what can be done.  Her blood alcohol level is sky high.  The staff asks her lots of questions and her answers sometimes vary.  A physician asks her about the quantity she drinks each day.  On this occasion she says her drink of choice is wine(she drinks anything).  Once she tells him she drinks two glasses of wine.  Another time she tells him she drinks a box of wine a day.  “A box?” he says, puzzled, but then moves on.  I’m not sure the physician knew boxed wine was an actual thing.

My sister is directed to a treatment center eventually where she currently withdrawing from alcohol.  I hope it works.  Earlier in the week she had attended an AA meeting where she met a man who gave her more alcohol and tried to assault her.

I’m not sure what the answers are.  I pray that this time she can gain peace and sobriety.

Summer Snippets…Time Travel, Role Reversal

Sitting in my mother’s living room, in the house I mostly grew up in, I feel like I am travelling back in time.

The living room especially hasn’t changed very much since I was a kid.  Some new furniture mixed in with the old.  The paintings on the wall are the same.  Newer curtains that look just like the old.  Other parts of the house evoke a similar feeling.  As I sit in a chair in her living room it is easy to let my mind drift by to the days of being a teen.  I get the same feeling in the dining room, memories of dozens of holiday meals and who sat where at the table and what sort of dishes were used.  At times it is a comforting feeling. Other times I look around at things that could be spruced up or fixed, if only mom would let us.

One day, mom sat in a chair and I fixed her hair for her.  I was glad to do it, but perhaps not ready for the role reversal.  I’m sure many more role reversals are yet to come.

Summer Snippets…Odd Woman Out

My mother is aging and she needs more help.  She is trying to bounce back after a hospital stay.  In our own way we are each trying to help her.  It is scary to travel on the interstate to see your mom so much you barely remember your trip, you are so busy thinking of all of the family drama.

My sister wants to make this a contest.  She has done so much, according to her.  She perhaps has done a little more than me, but I want to scream YOU ARE GETTING PAID by mom to help out.  I don’t expect to get paid, but I sure don’t appreciate your martyr complex when you keep leaving that detail out.

Sister says she has been spending hours upon hours cleaning.  I’m not sure where those hours were spent as the kitchen sink, the refrigerator, stove all have a coat of scum on them.  Perhaps a coat of scum that my mother just does not see anymore or doesn’t have the energy to care about. Maybe my sister doesn’t clean her own kitchen…who knows.  So while she has a temper tantrum, I clean the kitchen. My sister has trashed the part of the house she is staying in. Hopefully when my sister picks all her crap up from the floor, my mother won’t notice that a room that had stayed pristine over the years now has a stained carpet.  WTF.

There is a weird dance between my sister and I.  She has been lashing out at everyone and anyone because she feels left out.  She is mad that her life choices have put her in a place where she is in a financial mess, so god forbid anyone have more opportunities than she does.  Yet she seems to forget that between the three of us, my mom, my sister and I, it is I who have been left out.  Whether my sister and mom are getting along or not, they have always been in constant contact….not so for me.

I’d like to think my sister is staying sober.  Even if she is sober, it seems like her brain has changed over the years in a way I no longer understand.  She is paranoid about hurts others have inflicted on her, but seems to have almost no memory of her behaviors.

You would think after decades on earth together, we would have this family thing figured out.

Summer Snippets…Sun Worshiper

I’m starting a series called summer snippets, consisting of the good and bad of my summer so far.

I’m sitting in the backyard of my mom’s house.  The sun is hitting me at the perfect angle. They use to say 10:00 a.m to 2:00 p.m. was peak tanning hours.  As a teen I used to spend hours in the backyard working on my tan.  If it wasn’t in my yard, it was at the pool.

The sun has an addictive quality.  Even just a few minutes in the perfect spot makes me feel good.  Back then I don’t think I cared what the effects of the sun would be in later years.  I used tanning oil or lotion with almost no protection.  Silly teenage me.

I confess to even using a tanning bed sometimes. We all thought we looked better with a tan back then.

Today, I much more careful about the sun.  I recently saw a woman my age with the same hair and eye color, looking good with her summer tan.  I am tempted.  The sun will never stop calling my name.

Sacrificial Love

Some time ago, I attended a wedding.  The priest gave a sermon that partly touched on the aspect of sacrificial love.  While I don’t remember the sermon in its entirety, I remember I was deeply touched, and reminded me of the good parts that I remember when I was still a practicing Catholic.  What happens when our spouse gets sick?  How do we deal when one spouse ages more quickly than the other. I found a post about the movie “The Notebook” that reminded me of the priest’s sermon

I’ve been thinking about the “in sickness and in health” part of marriage.  My husband rarely gets sick but is now facing some health issues.  What the scope and severity of these issues are remains to be seen.  Hopefully my husband recovers quickly and is able to function as he had before, that is of course what he wants and what I pray for.

But I know sometime in the future, our physical bodies will change and we will together face the issues of growing old together, if we are both blessed to live long lives.  What will that mean for our marriage?  Only time will tell.

While these thoughts aren’t new, I often wonder how prepared we are as a society to face the challenges of a sick spouse.  What happens if our sick or aging spouse is no longer able to meet our needs, sexual or otherwise?  That day could come with no warning.  Would we be ready to love our spouses in a sacrificial way?

I sometimes read marriage related books or posts , some of a Christian variety.  Often I end up more aggravated by reading the articles.  There are so many Christian writers and bloggers who seem to have the message of be a love machine that never says no if you want to have a good marriage. Be a lady on the streets but a freak under the sheets. Of course they don’t use the actual language of “freak under the sheets”, but they would be honest in their intentions if they did. But they never seem to address what happens to the marriage when one spouse can’t meet the physical expectations, either temporarily or permanently.  Where is the rest of the foundation of your marriage?

I’d like to think that when the time comes, I would be somewhat prepared.  It would surely be a challenge, but it one I hope I could meet to the best of my ability.  Maybe I’m wrong about my belief that society doesn’t  prepare us for the final years of marriage.

Of course as a nurse, I have seen many elderly couples who do seem content in their marriages, despite their physical losses.  I’d love to hear their stories about how they have navigated through the challenges.

 

Written on Your Face

I knew your mother, so I met you.

Your mother, when I met her, was plummeting into the depths of a neurological affliction. An affliction slowly taking away the essence of who she is, her ability to talk and her ability to express herself.

Because of your mother I met your dad.  Your dad, a devoted figure at your mother’s side. Everyday trying to do the right thing. sometimes, struggling to hold back a tear or two or three.  Sometimes leaving the room if your mother’s mood changes because of her disease and she says something hurtful.

You, when I met you, almost always polite, smiling and gracious in  difficult situation. Do you get this from your parents, I wonder.  I can tell, though when you are having a harder time, your mouth hardens and your skin color pales.

Your mother, day by day, fading.  Still though, her face bears a royal countenance, a sort of beauty to be immortalized forever in a statue.  Sometimes a smile breaks the stillness of her face, a beautiful smile, a smile to be treasured.  A smile to connect her with husband, her children, her grandchildren.  A smile not to be forgotten.

Your dad, a representative of both parts of the married couple.  Stories to be told. Connections to be had.  I, who pride myself on being professional, steely and detached, softens as I get to know your dad.

You.  I see much of your dad in you.  Always trying to do the right thing.  What did you get from your mom, it is harder to know, apart from your clear blue eyes and shape of your cheekbones.  Oh and you have your mom’s smile as well.

Your mom.  Fading.  Withdrawing. Hungry only for the smallest amounts of food.

Your dad.  More tears, sometimes hidden.  Trying to get your mom to eat bites of most anything.  Mashed potatoes, sherbet, foods that take little effort to swallow.

You.  Are you aging or just simply weary?  You’ve grown a beard which partly masks your beautiful smile.  As you stand next to me, talking about your mom, I look up at you,  your teeth almost seem like aging tusks emerging from your beard. No matter the physical price this journey seems to take,  still though you are devoted.

Your mom, slipping away from the world.

Your dad’s tremendous loss and sorrow.

You, your devotion.  Though not your intention, a lesson about family for your children.

The chapter of this book has closed.  Tears I did shed for the life of this lovely woman. Memories will be saved of her, and her wonderful family.

 

Yes, I will try making resolutions again!

Right now I am enjoying having both of my kids home during their winter breaks.  I’ll really miss the oldest when she returns back to college.

It seems once Christmas is over, when you live in a cold climate, you must steel yourself to get through the rest of winter.  Perhaps having something to focus on, such as a New Year’s Resolution  will distract me from the cold and snow.

I have two things I have been thinking about, family and aging.

As a nurse I’ve had the privilege of meeting many families throughout the years.  The ones who seem close knit and can bond together to support each other and their loved one during times of ill health always amaze me.  Perhaps this is because I never quite had this with my extended family.  However it doesn’t mean I can’t continue to make my best efforts to create this within my own family.  So there is my first resolution, to do the best that I can to be loving and create a loving atmosphere in which my family can flourish.  As I transitioned into my young adult years, I remember this being a time of conflict for my family and I.  I don’t want the same thing to happen for my college aged daughter.

My second resolution would be to take care of my physical body better than I did last year.I definitely need to make exercise more of a priority.  I’m not getting any younger so I want to delay some of those age related changes that can happen when one doesn’t exercise enough.  I already know my upper body strength isn’t what it used to be.

Happy 2017 everyone.

 

These Silver Strands are No Treasure

I’m bound to color my hair for years to come, until I come to the point of acceptance.

Grey, silver or white is fine for others.  Not for me though.

My greys are few but quite noticeable.  The greys are like warriors, screaming to be noticed. They are coarse, thicker and sometimes even curly.  My normal hair is fine and silky.

I always start out by applying color on the stubborn little patch of greys near my hairline. I’ll be damned if one grey hair managed to win the fight after my latest attempt at coloring.  Should I pluck it?

Maybe the day my youngest graduates from high school will be the day I stop coloring.

I see plenty of lovely women with lovely silver strands.  I’m just not ready to join that crowd yet.

Lastly,  I am not ready to be more grey than my husband.

Rebuild me and make me new

I have a deviated septum.  It is a part of my nose that if I were to have it fixed, I might have less problems with my sinuses.  In the process of fixing my deviated septum I might even get a more aesthetically pleasing nose.  How is that for a deal.

While I don’t see myself fixing my nose somehow the idea that I czould put myself in the care of another and they could fix me and make me new sounds intriguing, if not magical even.  Could they rearrange the synapses in my brain so there is a little less of the dark side and more sunshine?  Is that what I would wish for most of all?  Or would I wish for physical perfection?  Or a body that would never fail me?

Who is this person that could rebuild me and make me new?  If you find him let me know.