During the first 4 years of taking care of my mother, some of my daily journals were in the form of emails to a very special, patient lady who willingly gave me her ear and shoulder to unload on. Also during that time, I kept strict accounts, i.e., Mom’s medical information, insurances, estate attorney, investment accounts, I paid bills, all of it – you name it, I kept track of it as if I had a proctology appointment with the IRS at the end of every day. All of the above remain anally organized in numerous binders and boxes safely stored away – all 14,000+ pages of them.
The reason I did this (other than reverence to my mother) is more difficult to admit. I did it out of fear. I was afraid of being doubted or accused unduly of inappropriate action within the responsibilities of taking care of Mom. Either case, I did what I felt was right.
What I find intriguing is what was originally born out of fear or for an entirely different reason, now serves as a well-organized, positive resource for us in i forgive, you forget, which wasn’t even a thought 8 months ago.
For the first time yesterday, I opened two of the many binders marked “journals/emails.” One was marked “March thru May, 2012,” the other was marked “August, 2010.” When I read a few pages out of each, my stomach flipped. The emotions were acute, fierce and immediate, so much so, I couldn’t finish yesterday’s blog. But from these records, I can pull a day of real experiences and relay how I handled them, whether it was with grace or handled like shit. All will be laid bare here in time and in my writings.
One email I read, I popped a cork because a request was made of Mom that was ridiculous, totally selfish and ignorant. Mom was asked to take her friend’s daughter to the surgery center, which required Mom to get up before 5am, drive in the dark, then take the daughter home once she was discharged. When Mom called me, she sounded fine about it. I, however, knew how taxing this was going to be on her, so I offered to do this friend’s errand myself. But Mom insisted she wanted to do this, and could do this herself. I had my grave concerns about this, but there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it.
Yes, I was white knuckled all day. Yes, I was beyond pissed off at the ignorance and gall of this request, and sure enough, when Mom got finished with her duties around 1pm, she was a wreck physically and emotionally. She took a nap and slept for three and a half hours. I went over to fix her dinner and we talked about the day, but Mom could barely function.
There were many times my hands were tied. This was by far the worst era in my caregiving job because Mom was walking a tight rope of being in denial, and/or not aware the severity of her own deficits from dementia.
I walked my own tight rope every day emotionally, worrying about her safety, the safety of others, including property and pets. And depending on the circumstance, I simply had to let things go, even if I knew the consequence to Mom would be negative.
Shortly thereafter, I grew a pair. I learned to confront both the person and their (ridiculous) request, making sure they were fully and wholly aware they would be responsible for anything and everything (adverse or harmful) that could happen that day, whatever that meant. The result of outlining the rules woke them up enough to realize or admit that Mom was compromised, and they either retracted their request (of Mom) altogether, or they accepted the risk and consequence. Win/Win.
The second thing that came out of today’s writing, then and now, is more ethereal. Keeping strict accounts, even though it was partially fear-based, was the right thing to do (for me at the time). Who knew that years later, this same record keeping with my journals/emails would serve in a positive, constructive way?
What Is True For Me: My take-away is this: Always do your best and do what (you feel) is right. If your intentions are pure and honorable, then the residual of your actions will be held in the highest light and last forever. And sometimes the reason and outcome of our original action will change in time into something entirely different and be even more remarkable than we could have ever imagined.
My thinking has a tendency to be limited and linear, unable see that my tapestry is vast and large. So even if I can’t see the future, or see where my direction is going, or how it will all turn out, I’ve been given numerous examples to have faith that the strong and sturdy threads of integrity woven within my own tapestry, will not only make my lifetime’s work unbreakable, but that much more passionate, resilient and beautiful.