Tuesday, January 15, 2013

One never knows how deeply to dig and how much to present here in Bloglandia. Whom will I offend if I write this and what part of the brain or planet, for that matter, will explode into blood-dust if I say this truth or what I perceive as truth?
And really, what does it matter knowing that IN truth, this is just a little tiny atom of the written words on the planet and I couldn't blow up an ant's ass with my words, even if I tried?

Huh. Well.

Not to be cryptic or anything.

I didn't answer any of the comments so thoughtfully and beautifully given to me on last night's post. I feel as if for each and every comment there is a backstory of explanation, perhaps even of defense. Which is ridiculous.

Let me just say that the caring for an elderly parent is as individual as anything else we do. And that for one daughter, it may be entirely appropriate to file a mother's nails, to brush her hair. For another daughter, the very thought of such a thing is impossible.

The reason for that may even be known to the daughter. It may be something that she has tried to let go of over the years with compassionate knowledge of circumstance and yet, as I said, impossible.

It may be a joy for one child to listen to an elderly parent's memories of the distant past and for another child, even in the same family, those memories may be the stuff of her current and eternal nightmares, making the memories not a thing to sit and listen to and smile about but a thing to cause her to cringe and throw more barricades up against the boundaries set so firmly in place decades ago out of dire necessity. Listen- there are names from my past, especially one, that of my abuser, which even the ugly syllables of cause me to want to scream.
And my mother- oh, she keeps bringing that name up. She asks me over and over again, repeatedly, if I think he is dead now.
"I do not know," I tell her each and every time she asks. "I have no idea."
Five minutes later she asks me again. "Do you think he's dead yet?"

Yesterday my mother said that she felt so bad about the things she'd said to my brother when she was in the hospital and was certain that we were imprisoning her against her will. She had accused him of horrible things and she felt so bad about it and she told me that she'd apologized to him and he had told me himself that when he visited her last weekend she had indeed apologized. Profusely.
"You said some horrible things to me too," I said.
"I did?"

This is how it goes. There is a part of my mother which does, I am sure, love me. There is another part which fights with every breath the very idea of apologizing for anything that led to anything because if she does, she has to admit truths which torture her. I know they do.

She does talk about the abuse. She talks about how she never knew it was happening. How she was so naive. How she did not even know such things existed. She even said she should have taken a knife and stabbed him in the back while he was sleeping "at the level of his heart."
She does not talk about how, in the family where abuse occurs, the path has been royally prepared for such things to happen. How secrets and lies are the scrim of smoke that allow a child/children to be molested. For years.

Ah yes. This is the sort of conversation my mother and I have now. Stabbing people in the heart while they sleep. That and that and "I want to die." And how horrible the nurses are to her. And how they never bring her anything to eat (although while I am there, the aid pleads with her to eat something and brings her broth and yogurt and jello) and how much she dislikes some of the tablemates where she is "forced" to eat and every misery of every sort of the body and of the soul and how much she hates how everyone there only speaks of their illnesses, their injuries, and she does not see the irony there at all.
And how at night she cries and cries and no one comes to help her.
"Did I fall in the shower?" She has asked me that a hundred times in the past week.
"No, getting out of your bed."
"I don't remember. Was I in the shower?"

I look at her face and she is losing weight and so her nose is becoming more sharp, the lines of her face  more chiseled. "This is a horrible place," she says. "No one believes me. And my church has given them SO much money." The oxygen machine chugs and chugs and snores and breathes. The broth set before her sits waiting for nothing, the red jello like melting jewels in the glass bowl. The two styrofoam cups, one with ice and water, one with ice and ginger ale are standing, their straws tipped in the direction of her mouth and I offer them to her over and over again.

"You have to drink," I say. "You do not have to eat if you don't want to. That is your right. But you have to drink." She sips. Her bed is lowered almost to the floor and surrounded by cushioned mats because of her falls. They have discovered that bed rails only cause worse falls because people manage to crawl over them. Someone (she doesn't know who) has left a small vase of flowers. The camellias I brought last week are dying and I throw them away.

"Some of the girls here are so mean. They are so rough. They hurt me. No one would believe it."
"I had such a happy childhood."
"Do you think he's dead yet?"
"Did I fall in the shower?"
"I want to die."
"I love you."

What does that mean? I think. What does that even mean?

I kiss her and tell her I'm leaving. I go to the grocery store. I come home and put things away and I am so tired I feel as if I, too, might die. I lay down and close my eyes and for an hour there is peace.

I get up and the world is still here. Nothing at all has changed.

I make dinner. I don't know how to answer comments but I read them. I appreciate them.
I wish I were the sort of daughter who could do the things daughters are supposed to do. I think to myself, "If I could do all of that, this would be a different blog."

That is a sort of truth. No matter what else, that surely is a sort of truth.


  1. Ms. Moon - in a twisted sort of way, your posts comfort me!! I too, had a difficult relationship with my mother and I too feel there is a backstory of explanation that I just don't want to go over and over and over. She did not linger long when it was her time, just long enough to ensure the guilt would remain with me for a long, long time. You wrote about what is right for one daughter and unthinkable to another and those words hit home with me ..... hard. But somehow they seem to make the guilt I feel become just a little less. Yes, I was the unthinkable daughter and it helps, it helps a lot to know that there are other daughters out there like me. There is nothing wrong with me, with my attitude or with my actions towards my mother. I did the best I could under the circumstances.
    Just wanted you to know that your words do matter - they do not offend - somehow they are healing, at least to me. Thank you for your truth, from the bottom of my heart !

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  3. Kelly M- This is such a difficult thing. It is helpful to me, too, to know that I am not the only one. Thank YOU for the words you gave me this morning. I mean it.

    Angella- Whatever you write and however you write it is always the right thing for me. Always. I feel your hand in mine. It is such a comfort. I wonder if you even know.

  4. Thank you for trusting us with your feelings. All of this is heavy and complicated. I'm glad you've opened up to share the things like Gibson and his "grumpy" expressions and then the times such as these.

    I hate that you were abused. I really do. Like, I hate knowing it, but I know that I need to know. I hate that someone did that to you. Your bravery protects others even though it couldn't protect you as a child.

  5. If you were a different sort of daughter and this were a different type of blog, then you might be a different Mary, and I'm not sure you'd still let me ride in your hip pocket.

  6. Grady Doctor- You know, the fact that my childhood was the way it was is as much a part of me as anything. And unfortunately, it is still a part of who I am and how I deal with my life and react to the things in it. And sadly, even to how I react to the people in it. But it has all somehow led to a life which is richer than anything I could ever have imagined. So...there is that. There are my children and Gibson and Owen and this man who has stood by me and held me up for thirty years. So. Yes. Thank-you for understanding that.
    Dang. I can't seem to stop my heart from leaking out my eyes toay.

  7. Nancy- Oh. I can't imagine a Mary who wouldn't want to let you ride in my hip pocket. Or heart pocket. But I see and know the truth you're speaking. I sigh and agree.

  8. Yes, this would be a different blog and one that would not be authentic and the reason you are so loved. I hope you never stop sharing the truth. People need to know how deeply childhood abuse impacts a person and has its tentacles that make life so very hard sometimes. You've helped one little me with your truths over the time I've been reading your blog and I am grateful for you and send you peace and love. S. Jo

  9. I have a different story but the result was basically the same as regards my relationship with my mother. I could not treat her in a loving tender way even as I did my duty towards her. I came when she called, I took her to the doctor, I was with her in the hospital. I did all that, that child she gave the least to. The other siblings had moved far away. All her neighbors thought I was a terrible child to treat my mother so coldly, but they just didn't know. And I cared not what they thought. No telling what lies my mother told them. So, Ms Moon. You do what you can and do not feel obligated to explain yourself to anyone.

  10. Oh Mary. It doesn't mean anything, the confused things her brain says. My mom is getting there, her mom and both grandmas had dementia, for years, two to ten years. We saw it all and here it comes again. But the words your mom is saying? Those actual words, angry, blaming, lonely, hurt, sad, defensive, denial, I've heard those exact words. They are so confused and it is so sad. Our family inside joke for dementia is Nobody even called me on Christmas day, from the great aunt who spent the entire day with twenty family members. I live in fear of forgetting what I just did all day. Of not knowing. Knowing can be just as bad though.

    Oh those words you wrote, the thought of some things impossible. There are triggers, things that set me off, childish roots I can't pull. I am not the daughter who has loving touches, I can do words, but I do not like to touch or be touched, and I feel awful about it. We are who we are, we do what we can do.

    I know it is hard to deal with an ailing parent, even harder when you're trying to deal with your own shit that just keeps rearing its head. You are a marvel, your huge heart and open eyes, and thank you again and again for writing what you do here. For helping us all through this puzzle together.


  11. My father's wife looked at my granny's pills, and said 'hmm, I don't see the big red one that stops her thinking people are stealing from her'.

    Apparently a lot of old people are prescribed anti-psychotics to stem the paranoia that comes with old age. That's what all this is - it's not personal no matter how it feels, I think, other than being a defensive habit, maybe.

    I hope so anyway. Don't feel bad - you're doing what you need to be doing, that's ok.

  12. Oh, Ms. Moon. I am so sorry. I deleted my comment. Sorry for my thoughtlessness

  13. This stuff with your mom is very hard to go through and those ugly stories from the past just pile more hard on top.

    Hang in there, Dear Mary. We know you are doing your best. We are sending love your way. x0 N2

  14. S Jo- Thank you. I do appreciate you so much.

    Ellen Abbott- I am trying very hard not to care what others thing in this situation. It's hard, though, especially when one grew up in a house where what other people thought was of utmost importance- certainly far more than what was really happening. I bet I am not the only one who learned that lesson early. It's hard, isn't it? It's just damn hard.

    Jo- True. And Mother may be prescribed something like that. However, as I just said to her nurse, this is not necessarily a new development, but more like an intensification of past attitude.

    Birdie- Not your fault. No one knows the whole story ever. You gave excellent suggestions and I wish with all of my heart they were ones I could have taken because of course I hate it that my mother is suffering.

    N2- Yep. Thus the drowning feeling. I am fighting very hard to keep my head above water.

  15. I feel incredibly honored to be able to read your accounting of this, because 1. most blogs don't really talk about real life any more and 2. you are an amazing writer and 3. you are an amazing person. Thank you.

  16. I am so glad you can share at whatever level you are comfortable and able to here. I keep saying the same thing to you: "this sucks". But that pretty much sums it up. It is so difficult and hope you can get through it as well as possible.

  17. Mary your comment to Ellen blew me away, what other people thought was always more important than what was really happening. It's crazy making to have your reality not match the one projected out for the world to see, all sunshine and rainbows. God forbid we tell the truth.

  18. The hurt and pain is there whatever you do.. early life impinging on everything.. you are good to your mother and try very hard, but do not measure her reactions, the fact that you try is amazing..Your man knows what a splendid person you are and your kids and grandchildren too, know how special you are too.. Dealing with mothers is always hard, and that even without any traumas in childhood.. females really are the deadliest of the species.. Relax, let the tears flow if they do, then wipe them away and go and take all the love that your dear family give you, and it will ease the pain... thank you for sharing how hard it is.. we are all swimming like the swans... graceful on top, and peddling like mad underneath.. Hugs from across the pond..janzi

  19. Be good to yourself, Sweetheart.

  20. You are very brave. And you do more than the right thing. Be good to yourself.

  21. Your truth is your truth. Behind those truths is a history. Walking through that history was a child. You. While this present situation is horrible, sad, difficult, depressing, anxiety-producing, you are managing most of the time, it seems. You are brave and good. You give out love and you get some back. I wish you well, Mrs. Moon.

  22. My own mother died of cancer a few years ago and I was not the daughter who was by her side. I was the daughter that pulled away and steeled herself from the loss and the vulnerability that grief brings. I did what I needed to do to get through that for myself. And you will too.

    We each have to paddle our own canoe, but man, isn't it nice to know there are people waiting for you on the other shore?

    Again, big hugs to you.

  23. I thought of leaving a blank comment, but that would be too eerily unpresent. So I'll just say I'm quietly reading, which is what the blank comment was meant to express. Well-wishing seems tepid, and "witnessing" seems like overreach, not quite accurate. I am reading, though.

  24. I too am quietly reading...my thought is that now is not the time to try to figure things out or explain. You don't owe anyone an explanation or apology. I am lucky that I still have my mother and I love her very much...BUT if that were not the case then I would detach and do things very different and the hell with what people think!

  25. I have no suggestions whatsoever.

    Maybe just this... love and music. Fuck the rest.

  26. If she had been a different mother, perhaps you could be a different daughter. Or would want to be. But it is what it is, and you are doing the best you can and arguably more than she deserves. Please cut yourself some slack and hold tightly to your connections with the world beyond her unhappiness and decline!

  27. Ms. Fleur- Thank you and then thank you.

    Maggie- I feel honored. And I am wondering- if people don't write about real life, what in hell do they write about?

    Jill- It does suck. Thanks for reminding me that it's not just my perspective.

    Mel- This is a whole other topic and yet completely related.

    Janzi- Thank you for one of the most perceptive and beautiful comments I've ever gotten.

    Betsy- Oh honey. I am. Believe me.

    Sabine- Thank you for commenting because now I have found YOUR writing.

    Denise- I get SO much love back. It's not even close to being an equal equation. And I realize that. And I am grateful.

    heartinhand- Thank you for all the reading and commenting you did today. I may not go back and answer all of what you said but I read it all. I appreciated it all.

    A- That means a huge universe of meaning to me. Thank you.

    ain't for city gals- You have no idea how much I wish things were different. I am so glad that you have a mother you love easily. I would wish that for everyone.

    Stephanie- Works for this old woman. Bless, darling. Bless.

    Mama D- I am. I am cutting myself a lot of slack. Thank you.

  28. I was not the kind of daughter who could do the things that daughters are supposed to do.

    I haven't read in a few weeks. I will catch up now.

    My breath is heavy for you. It's so hard.


  29. Janzi said it all...My thoughts are with you for some peace in all of this.


  30. These last 2 posts have hit me so close to home it's almost gut-wrenching. It's almost like you've reached into my heart and pulled out the words and feelings that I can't seem to make materialize on this page.

    I've been there...I understand. Not the same situations you have survived but many of the same feelings and walls.

    I spent nearly 10 years dealing with elderly, illness and dementia and could handle almost anything UNTIL it came home to roost.

    It's hard to put into words the feelings; the guilt involved in not being there and the pain/anxiety involved in forcing yourself to tolerate it. I'm always questioning myself; am I selfish for putting my own sanity first or a terrible daughter for not doing enough?

    I hope you can find peace...I'm searching too.

  31. That is the most honest portrait of a complicated relationship I've read in a long time. Kudos to you for being able to talk about such subjects on your blog. I sometimes wrestle with how much to reveal, how honest to be, but you've been far braver (and hence more truthful) than I've ever dreamed of being.

    I know none of this is fun for you. But from a purely selfish reader's perspective, I'm glad this isn't a different blog. I like THIS blog.

    It's hard to say how much your mom might wrestle with the past. Denial is a survival mechanism, after all. Deep down she may know and feel some responsibility for it all, even if she can't say so.

  32. This writing is so raw and right and you capture me the way only great writers can.

    Of course you're exhausted.
    My gosh, I get so angry at her sometimes, it's like she wants to torture you. I don't get it. I don't get it. You should never have to hear his name, ever ever.

  33. I think that old age morphs everything. The demented mind has narrowed. I wish I had not been impatient with my mother at times. But it is done now. You will be okay. Time does lessen some memories.

  34. I hope the bastard is dead.

    You were a good daughter. And you are a fine, fine writer. And I wish your mother had been half the mother that you were a daughter.

    I'll probably be struck down for speaking ill of the dead, but it's how I feel.

    I love you.


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