I've been thinking quite a lot lately about guilt and anger. Just about the time I think I have the start of this piece, something happens and my thoughts go off in a different direction. So after several trips down deadend roads, the most recent of which was last night, I find myself at yet another starting point. This time my guide was resignation.
About a year after dad died in January '01, I worried a lot about mom's health and her isolation. She was living in Modesto at the time and we had moved to Turlock about three years before. Granted, I was only 13 minutes (not speeding minutes) away but there was always this worry in the back of my mind - what if something happened to mom and no one found her for a while. The logical answer, of course, would be to get one of those little lifeline alarms one wears as a bracelet or necklace but figuring out three phone numbers to program in was a problem. Mom hated to bother people and rarely reached out to others. Oddly enough, she never declined giving help to others, but asking for it herself??? Well . . . no.
Anyway, time went by and when mom successfully sold her mobilehome, the alarm idea fell off my radar. Mom was now living in a senior independent living apartment complex, was surrounded by lots of nice people, was making new friends, going places, and creating a wonderful post-dad life. She was in a routine that kept her present in the daily life of many people and I wrapped myself in a false sense of security.
The problem with routine is that it can be disrupted so easily. So, one terrible morning my mom missed breakfast. Her friend Gloria had a medical appointment that morning so had left early and did not return until lunch. The routine was that mom and Gloria would always walk over to breakfast together unless other plans were happening. They always checked with each other. WhenGloria didn't find mom at the dining room, she asked others about her whereabouts, but no one remembered seeing her that morning. Gloria, being the widow of a Army General who had been assigned to the Pentagon and with a history of visits to the White House, was truly a take-charge woman. So with Rick the maintenance man in hand, she went to mom's apartment. It didn't take long to discover that my mom had suffered a massive stroke hours before. And here lay the birth of guilt and anger.