The Visit

On Thursday mom’s oldest best-est friend from the 1950s visited her. It was no small feat given that he had to drive 6+ hours to get to our place the night before (not to mention he’s only in the states every other year). Mom’s dear friend also ran the summer camp my DH and I attended as children. Ten summers for me, more for my husband. He is, in so many ways, a surrogate father to both of us.

This was a stealth mission… I was chauffeur, got Adam into the building and signed in at the concierge desk. Staff helped us find mom in the dining room (lunch). Adam advanced as I retreated.

Their initial reunion was good as they moved from mom’s shared table to a smaller one. Once they went to mom’s apartment, things eventually shifted.

Adam had composed a picture of the Grand Canyon with prose mom wrote from an airplane in the 90’s. When he finished reading this aloud to her, she asked who had written the passage. He said, “You did!” She was moved to a head dropping pause, and then placed her hand on Adam’s shoulder and thanked him.

Adam brought mom Ursula K. Le Guin’s last book, and read a chapter about Pard the cat to mom. She enjoyed it immensely. Mom then went straight to the drawer I’d placed all her inbound correspondence in (!), and choose some cards my eldest daughter sent to her, and read them aloud to Adam. He, in turn, enjoyed mom reading to him. My kiddo (an attorney) adds fun and amusing facts like, ‘Obsolete laws still on the books in New York’ to her weekly correspondence. Mom’s sense of humor is pretty solid, and so this is a great way to connect.

Once Adam and I retuned to our house, and settled into the garden, he shared the following:

  • Mom thinks I’m trying to keep her in AL. This is evidenced by,
  • The fact that she doesn’t have access to her finances (tho she is grateful I’m taking care of her finances), and that I’ve removed her (non-existent) address books from her apartment. Evidently, I’m isolating her from family and friends.
  • She doesn’t know how much money she has.
  • She thinks I’m pilfering her funds, and that my husband is in on the game.
  • She doesn’t think she can move back to the Island because she’d have to hire a moving company, which is unaffordable, and because she doesn’t have access to her finances.
  • She’s put together that my DH and step-daughter were providing a distraction so I could move the furniture in.
  • She’s sure I hired a moving company to get her furniture to her apartment, and that I used her funds to do so. She’s stuck on that my pickup couldn’t have moved the furniture to her apartment. What’s so funny about this is that I moved most of her furniture from her mainland house to the Island in my capacious pickup. Whatever.
  • When Adam, in response to mom’s onslaught about her furniture showing up at her apartment, said “I don’t understand…” My mother snapped, “I’m not asking you to understand!” She can’t have a conversation about this situation. All she can do is react to it. Hello dementia!
  • She cycled on the above 6 times, and there was nothing Adam could do to shift her off the topic. Despite more than 60 shared years, he was unable to walk her down any memory lane. She was either raging about me, or in the present moment.

What’s so ludicrous about mom’s paranoia is that:

  • We have zero ability to pay her assisted living bill ourselves, so why on earth would we sprinkle her funds on unnecessary expenses? The very last thing in my life, God forgive me, would be the necessity for my mother to move in with me!
  • At this point, roughly, once I get the Island house rented out, mom has enough money in the bank that it’ll be 25 years before I have to sell a property in order to support her care in AL. And, no that doesn’t take into account increased cost of care, rental property income, and pension increases, and equity holding increases… She’ll be 108 by then. It’s a rough, but reasonable forecast. 
On one hand, it’s a bit of a relief to hear she feels ‘stuck.’ It’s further proof, as if any more were needed, that she can’t sequence, and is using excuses (not knowing how much money she has and the exorbitant price of movers) to stay, or not undertake the effort of leaving AL. On the other hand, this is an emotional devastation for me, coming face-to-face with the fact she has zero ability to understand:
  • She’s wrong. 
  • How much of my time, energy, and life I’ve put into her care, and caring for her estate with, essentially, no compensation, AND because of her needs, I am unable/unwilling  to work. Someone doing everything I do for my mother, 20-60 hours a week, earns $35-$50 an hour. Talk about running through her money… She has no way to wrap her head around the financial sacrifice I make in managing her estate for her for pennies an hour, so she can remain safely in care for the rest of her life.
  • How ill she is. 
And for now I remain under ‘radio silence.’ I saw a lot of the directors of her community today at another community opening that my daughter was instrumental in. They were very sympathetic, and reassured me that this is normal. Feels like shit.

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