Sunday, September 03, 2006

Guilt and Anger Take A Holiday Part II

Last week I read an article in a recent issue of People Magazine about lifesaving pets. The stories were all uniquely different but all had a core of unity - animal awareness and their humans who heard and responded. I think this must be a very rare occurrance or we would hear more about such events. More common are the times that unusual animal behavior is overlooked. Such an event happened during the first hour of mom's stroke.

Her next door neighbors in the building had a small dog and they would take him out to walk every morning. When they came back into the building, the little dog started whining and crying and scatching at mom's door. Being responsible pet owners and not wanting to cause a disruption, they pulled the dog away and hurried him into their apartment. Later, when mom was discovered they realized that the dog was hearing something that they could not - mom crying out for help. I know they felt badly later for not "getting it", but really it was no more their fault than it was the Gloria scheduled an early morning appointment or that I wrapped myself up in a false blanket of security regarding her safety. Life happens as it happens and all the could haves and what ifs in the world won't do anything except make one miserable and guilt-ridden and angry.

Two years into her stroke recovery, I had finally come to accept the fact that mom had come as far as she would be able. We had her safe and settled at St. Thomas. She had two rooms to herself, she was surrounded by the things she cared about, she had daily Mass and Holy Nuns watching over her. I had allowed myself to slip into that safe place that told me that mom had at last come to her final home and barring any drastic illness, would quietly and gently slip away in God's time. I had come to believe that my prayers for her eventual quiet passing had been answered. Her fall (such a minor thing) in early July shocked me back to reality.

Now two months into her recovery from her fall, I have found myself plagued by would have's, could have's, should have's, what if's, and if only's. And plague is just the right word. I feel like a plague has descended upon my head and its main objective, like any disease, is to keep me from finding my own way to self-healing and as a result I am of less benefit to my mother. Plague says "Be there twice a day no matter the quality of the visit", Healing says "Be there once a day and accept you mom in whatever mood you find her in". Plague says "You mom is being terrible to you. Punish her by staying away for a couple of days." Healing says "This is aging. This is a possible path to death that all of us might take. Love anyway."

Plague/Healing. Healing/Plague. For the past three days mom has been mainly sleeping whenever I, or like today with my brother Dave, show up. "What kind of quality is THAT?" Plague asks. Healing answers, "Accept where she is at. Look around for something during that time that you aren't with her that might benefit her." What an idea! and today that is exactly what I did.

Shortly after mom went into rehab, we started singing together. This is something mom always liked to do and when she would become aggitated, it would calm her down and redirect her emotions. I had discussed briefly the idea of getting a cassette player and headset with her speech therapist so that she could listen to a lot of the old tapes that we have, an idea the therapist loved. Plague told me for two weeks, "cassette players with headphones are old technology. You will never find a new one, go to Goodwill, find a piece of junk. Maybe it will work." How depressing is THAT? But today Healing said, "Go to Long's. Check it out. You might be surprised." One trip to Long's and my search was not only successful BUT it resulted in a sturdy and good-looking cassette player and was less than $10.00.

Leaving mom again today without much of a visit was sad but unlike previous visits, I wasn't despairing. And when I go to see her later today, I hope my musical surprise will bring a measure of pleasure to her days. Healing got through to me and I listened and now I've starting to pack up Guilt and Anger to send them on a well-deserved holiday to HELL. They will have lots of good company there.


Maryellen said...

Hi: These blogs can be so surprising. You droped by my blog and saw my daughter spelling out I Love You Mom with her hands on top of Half Dome. Well I clicked on your name to come over here and respond with a lil "You can't even imagine how much it means to me to have had my daughter do that for me". But then I read this post and I'm all but positive you do know, because you two love your mother. The other side of the coin,, my daughter = you, I = your mother. I find myself a burden to my daughter in my disability and chronic pain world. I read your words and I must say that I do walk on egg shells around my daughter because I do not want her to feel so many of the emotions you express here. I read your words and I thank you, because I see that what I fear my daughter feels is probably true. This is such a huge part of life and I do not believe there is any answer that I am aware of. But be glad you had/have a mom who loves you. Some of us did not. My daughter knows I love her, and she loves me back in such wonderful ways, as do you your mother. You have touched me today, and my heart of full for you, your mother, for me and for my daughter and then we can multiply that a billion trillion gazillion times and see that we are just living life like it happens. There is no answer, just love her and I will move forward gently with my daughter and enjoy her love for me. Thank you. I am crying so hard right now I cannot even see the screen. Thank you, from the very root of my heart.

from someone's mother to someone's daughter

sas said...

Guilt and anger deserve that holiday, that cruise to no where. Pack them up with all their dirty little luggage..."what everyone else thinks" "what I should of done" "if only" "what if..." and send them packing! You words here are a love story, to your Mom. And every Mother, no matter how strong, how tired, how frail, would treasure that story. Play your music. She will hear it. She will feel it. She will know it. She will love it. God bless you.

paris parfait said...

Yes, send those two imposters packing! Sending prayers for your mom's recovery and your peace of mind, dear heart. It is hoped the music will be a soothing treat for your Mom. xo

Autrice DelDrago said...

Healing is Divine.

hazzbuzz said...

Hi Annie, I think you are right, these feelings ARE normal and human, what a huge responsibility. I hope the music helps to make a difference.
big hugs
Bridget xx

pepektheassassin said...

Good on you!

Tongue in Cheek Antiques said...

Annie, the whole of you loves your Mom, you are a good daughter, a loving daughter, a working daughter, an angel of a daughter.

Daisy Lupin said...

We all go through these confusion of thoughts when it concerns aging parents. Some days my mother is horrible to me when I phone or see her, which I do one or the other of every day. I often think I'll just let her stew for a couple of days to teach her a lesson, but, of course, I don't. I just have to try to keep in my mind my mother was never nasty it is just one of the effects of aging, a sort of childishness really. At the moment I try very hard to get on with my own life without constant 'what ifs' and 'If I had only', believe me Annie, what is done is done, you cannot go berating yourself over past happenings. It will make you seriously ill, then you will not be helping your mother at all.xx

Beth said...

Oh dear Annie,,,I am so sorry for the struggle you have been going through. You are a very good and caring daughter,,and I know your Mom loves you dearly. You are by her side during her last journey, as she was by your side during the beginnings of your journey. What a wonderful idea about the music. I know she will truly love that!! Please know that I think of you often, as I know one day I will be where you are at with my own Mom. I am not sure if I will be as strong as you are,,but I will sure try.
Many Hugs to you Annie!!

mikim said...

Annie, throughout this post I see a wonderful daughter who loves her mother dearly and wants only best for her.
Be gentle with yourself.

1CoolAggieGal said...

I am Annie's sister, Marcia (mar-sea-ah). I live in Texas.

I want everyone to know that my sister is my hero. She takes care of our mother with tenderness and love. I cannot be there to help her, and it breaks my heart.

I love you, Annieelf.

AnnieElf said...

Everyone. I could not be more surprised. What a great joy to see my sister pop up here and with her own blog now. Don't be fooled. She's pretty awesome herself.