While sitting around the table after Christmas dinner mom decided it was time to empty the dishwasher. I gave my husband the ‘Git on yer feet and rescue the dishes’ violent head toss, with eye widening. As I watched mom try to put away a wine glass (top shelf), and almost fumble it, I automatically rose to my feet. Daughter #2 quietly said, “Mom, calm down. It’s going to be alright.” I sat. My husband rescued the glass.
It’s not about the glass, which was purchased at Goodwill for a buck because mom breaks wine glasses at the dinner table on a regular basis. It’s about the potential fallout of the breaking glass. Does it hit mom on the head on the way down causing her to fall in surprise? Does she hurt herself in the fall? Does she take out the open dishwasher door in the fall? Does the glass break something else on the counter? Does the glass shatter, sending shards everywhere? Who gets hurt? Is the baby playing at the other end of the kitchen? How many stitches does mom need? Selfishly, who takes mom to the ER if she is hurt (me), and who cleans up shattered glass to my standards? How long will I find shattered glass in the kitchen? The house needs to be shattered glass free. A 2 year-old hangs out here. Even if no one is hurt, mom, in her embarrassment, would get very defensive and loudly insists she does know How That happened, and then proceeds to blame the event on the height of the shelf, the temperature of the clean dishes etc… This is what is going through my head in the 1.5 seconds it takes me to watch the fumble, and rescue, of a wine glass as I stand up (like there’s anything I could do to stop the glass from breaking). This is what it’s like to be with my mom. Every move she makes comes with potential risk management, all day long. I love her and I am tired.
On Christmas Day mom asked me in our kitchen: “This is Daughter # 2’s house, right?” I said it was our home. She replied she was disoriented, and I said I was sorry. She said she didn’t feel bad about it, just that she was scrambled.
The evening of the 26th mom decided she wanted to head back to the Island the next day. We looked at the ferry schedule and chose a boat. Yesterday, the 27th, the calls started at 10:30am. Her voicemail was very odd. I called back to discover she thought she was on the Island and I was going to give her a lift to the boat so she could come here. This was confused further because she was calling her Island neighbor asking for a ride home when the boat got in. I straightened her out and jumped in the shower, while my husband went to get the paper. Mom left voicemail twice again and was just as confused about where she was, thinking she was taking a boat off the Island, but this time being a little straighter about who was picking her up. I spoke to her neighbor to make sure we were all on the same page. Mom said aloud to me recently that she doesn’t know why she has such a hard time reading the ferry schedule. It’s one thing to misread the schedule; it’s quiet another misread the schedule and then insist to your daughter that you’re in a different town due to your misinterpretation. I wondered out loud to both my husband and mom’s neighbor if I should be taking mom to the doctor rather than the ferry. They both though she’d settle down once on the Island.
When we started out to the ferry terminal it was sleeting. Mom stated that she hoped it wasn’t snowing further north, or we’d have to turn around and come home. I asked her why she thought that. She had no answer. The answer is she won’t (Thank GOD) drive in the snow. We were driving an all wheel drive car yesterday, and it did indeed snow during our drive.
During the drive north mom repeatedly (4-5 times during a 1.25 hours drive) looked at her watch, took the ferry schedule out, asked me to confirm which boat she was catching, looked at her watch again, and then put the schedule away. I repeatedly told myself not to catch her anxiety about missing the boat, to the point of timing how long it takes to get from the edge of town to Safeway, via the port road (3 minutes), and then out to the ferry terminal, while driving the speed limit (6 minutes). Upon arrival at the ferry terminal, and on queue, mom said, “I always forget how long it takes to drive out here.” While I know we are not supposed to alter the patient’s reality with our own, this time, with facts in hand, I said, “You know, mom, it always feels that way to me too, so on this drive I timed it. It only took us 6 minutes to get from Safeway to here! Isn’t that amazing?” She, with a smile on her face, was astonished.