What did I tell you I was ready to do? Come home from vacation and resume a useful role in society?
I misspoke. What I meant to say is that I was ready to come home from vacation, visit my parents in their new assisted living apartment, admire my dad's facial bruising from his recent fall, engage in a big emotional fracas with my mother, weep copiously, berate myself, go out for dinner and drink too much sake, and do some drunken tweeting.
Yes, indeed, I packed a lot of living into those first 12 hours of being home.
You might wonder why I was picking on my poor ol' mother.
I didn't mean to.
My mother is naturally predisposed to embrace conflict--she thrives on it, really--and she has spent her first week in Assisted Living trying to alienate the nursing staff by arguing about her medication with them. Topics for discussion with the nurses have included
- You Are Not Giving Me The Right Pills
- You Didn't Give Me My Morning Pill
- These Pills Don't Look Like My Pills
- I Don't Take My Pill With Applesauce
- I Don't Think These Pills Are Mine
- Give Me All My Pills Back So I Can Do It Myself
To be fair, she has always managed her medicine herself (with help from my nephew Benjamin who lived with them at their old house.) But her memory problems have definitely gotten worse so we thought we should turn it over to the nurses. Clearly we miscalculated her reaction to this.
We know our mother, and we know that something like this could put the entire arrangement into jeopardy. She just won't let it go. Never ever. So, fine, right? Let her take her own pills. She can probably manage okay with a check-off list and a little supervision.
As part of my sincerely well-intentioned efforts to fix the problem, I asked my mother to be patient through the weekend so that I could have time to type up a medication checklist and then meet with the head nurse on Monday morning to turn the pills back over to Mom.
And when my mother wouldn't stop talking about "the autocrats" and the "she-devils," when I realized that she fully intended to go at again as soon as she had the chance, I exploded with tears and angry entreaties to JUST STOP, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.
And I said, through sobs, "THIS HAS TO WORK. YOU HAVE TO BE ABLE TO LIVE HERE. I DON'T KNOW WHERE YOU WILL LIVE IF THIS DOESN'T WORK OUT."
Then I said something worse, something that I am ashamed of. She was insisting again that the nurse had missed a pill that day. I could have sidestepped it or deflected it, and what did I say?
"YOU HAVE ALZHEIMERS. MAYBE YOU FORGOT."
Nice, huh? Way to rub it in.
My father, oh God, my poor father who shrinks from conflict and can't manage my mother at all, was over on his side of the table saying soothingly, "Let's agree to an armistice! I think we'll be able to straighten this out when your brother comes back. How about exchanging a kiss of peace? Least said, soonest mended!"
He's so cute.
Anyway, my mom was really upset that I was upset. She apologized profusely (as did I), and all was well by this morning.
But goddamn. Why can't I control myself? The good thing is, I have lots of time to learn. My brother pointed out to me that she seems to get stronger every day and will probably be around for at least another 20 years.