Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Worst Daughter In The World: Part Gazillion

You may notice that I hardly ever discuss my mother here and there are a myriad of reasons for that and one of them is that I just hardly ever see her despite the fact that she only lives about fifteen miles away.

I will sum up the reasons with this: I am a bad daughter.

It's true. I am.

Just ask my brother.

Anyway, Mother called me yesterday. I had Owen and was chasing him around the house, trying to change a poopy diaper and if he isn't in the mood to get a diaper changed, you have to do all your tricks to cajole him into it and that's almost impossible to do if you're on the phone.
But we did talk for awhile, me running from room to room saying, "No, Owen, you cannot have that." "Get down, honey, you can't get up there." "Here baby boy, you want some apple?" and so forth.

"Do you have him every day?" asked my mother.
"Oh no, no," I said. "Some weeks I don't get him enough and I have to go see him."
And this is true.

Mother's been having problems with her knees. She's in a lot of pain. And she's determined to get knee replacements. At the age of 83. And I don't blame her. If they can fix the problem, let's do it. Of course, the problem isn't the surgery, it's the recovery period.
She hinted around about this.
"I know you have so much to do," she said and boy, is she right but the guilt ceiling lowered over me and threatened to smash me, the way it will.

I don't know what I'd do or how I'd do it if she needs me to help her through recovery. First off, we don't even go to LUNCH together.
For a myriad of reasons. (I am the world's worst daughter.)

Secondly- this old house is so not set up for someone who has problems walking. There are uneven floors which tilt and tip and there are thresholds at each of the many, many doorways that our feet just pass over unconsciously but for an older person, just learning to walk on a new knee, they would present a problem, each and every one.

What to do? How to do it?

And then last night at rehearsal, Jack said, "We have six weeks of rehearsal left and we want everyone to make this their priority. It has to be."
And we all nodded gravely and agreed it would be and there you go.
Another priority and I already knew it. I'm not a real actor but I do know that when you get a part in a play, you gotta show up for all the rehearsals, you have to know your lines, you have to get your costumes together (this IS community theater) and that is just THAT. No fucking around. They sell tickets and there are five other women in this play for whom any irresponsibility on my part would be completely unfair.

As I nodded, I kept hearing the words, knee replacement, in my head. Mother, I kept thinking.

What to do? How to do it?

Every time I think about the situation, my head and heart trip like she would on these thresholds, and how do I leave the room, the life I'm living and enter the one she may need me to lead in her aid?

I don't know. But that's what I'm thinking about this early morning as I drink my coffee and wait for Owen to show up.

I really don't know. And I don't know how anyone does that- take care of elderly parents while trying to live a life and yes, I know that she set aside so much to raise me but isn't that what we all do? She raised her children, I raised mine and now I am helping with my grandson and that is the joy of my life and important to the life of my daughter and her husband.

And what will I do when I need help because almost certainly I will?
The guilt ceiling descends a few inches farther when I think of that. Ask my children for that sort of help?

Well. No answers here today. And I don't even know what a knee replacement rehab would be like for an eighty-three year old.

Time to let the chickens out. Time to get on with this full day of mine. I will shove these thoughts to the back of the closet and put up my steel umbrella to keep that guilt ceiling's lead weight off my chest, my back, my neck, knowing that a knee replacement or two (she needs two) is just part of it, there is going to be so much more, that this is what it means to be part of a family, fighting myself with every step I take in this thought-direction, tripping not-so-merrily over the thresholds, my own old knees grumbling and complaining but still strong enough to carry me through these days.


  1. Oh no.

    Well. My granny had one done, one knee that is. And she was ... I don't know, 90?

    She spent, approximately, a week in hospital, then a week or two in a nursing home... then she went home and had help from my dad and her carer, but that was it.

    Maybe your comtribution should come in the form of helping pay for someone to come care for her in her own home, I don't know if that would be an option.

    It never rains but it pours, eh?

  2. I had the same thought as Jo about hiring someone to help until she can get around. There may be the need for driving for awhile to get to and fro physical therapy.
    And I know you just use the phrase "bad daughter" just to put a label on it to get to the next sentence, because you know you are not.
    I know. I know. I know what it is like to be born into a similar family of origin as yours. Sometimes daughters truly do have reasons to limit the contact.

  3. Most of the time, here at least, 83 yr old knee replacement patients are rehabbed after surgery by the therapy department of a Nursing & Rehab facility, i.e. a nursing home. It's very possible she will actually NEED that sort of treatment after the surgery. 83 yr olds sometimes have more trouble with things after anesthesia and require more care. I am certainly not wishing your mama any harm. I am wishing you not to sweat it. It's hardly ever as terrible as we imagine.

  4. I'll help where needed. But this may just be the time where she moves out of her little home.

  5. If it were my mom (who I have a non-relation with due to abuse) and if she would really need help I would try to find someone to be there for her. I personally don't see me ever taking care of my mom. But the guilt ceiling is hard... Try to get rid of that one, even if I know that it is easier said then done.
    If you would have a good relationship with her it would probably be easier to make a decision, but nobody can blame you for wanting to spend time with people who mentally feed you... The fact that one day we might need help does not fit in the present picture if you ask me... If I need help, I know that I will get paid care as I do not want to put that same guilt ceiling on my children...
    Your brother seems to be closer to her, he might help out and have less issues with it. Just my 2 cents...

  6. My mother had two knees replaced when she was 83 and the recovery from the anesthesia was worse than the rehab for the knees. One eye blew out, a stroke in her eye, leaving her blind on that side. I worry more about the anesthesia at that age. As others here have said, perhaps you can pay someone to be with her during the rehab period, or look into her rehabbing at a care center of some sort.

    And you are not a bad daughter and you are a great grandmother and human and you ARE an actress and you need to do your life, even if your mom has knee surgery. Maybe when next she brings it up you can start guiding her to look into rehab options. It's going to be okay, hon.

    wv: aported

  7. I thought you had bad knees yourself! If you have to watch how much you pick up beloved Owen, you can't very well be picking up someone heavier. Also, you have other commitments. Can you ask her to find reinforcements because you simply can't do a lot?

    I never consider myself a bad daughter although I rarely even call my mother who is maybe 10 miles away. I desperately wanted to be closer when I was young but she is half the relationship after all.

    Nursing home & home care & you can pop in for a few hours on certain days. Your plate is full already.

    Your children will be happy to help you as much as they can if you need it because you have an entirely different relationship. Also, you'd would not dump the care you need on any one person's lap would you?

  8. A rehab or nursing home for a week or so would probably be good. That way she can get the full benefit of physical therapy. I did everything I could for my parents. I knew that was what I felt was right. I don't regret the time spent with my mother. She didn't live here though and went from her home to assisted living. I am sure that you will figure out what is best for all concerned.

  9. I feel that lead drape, Ms. Moon. Near impossible. Except that nothing, apparently, is impossible. You'll figure it out. Someone will help. Until then, I think you'll learn your lines.

    Love and strength to you.

  10. I don't even know your first name! Kathleen Osgood clued me on on your site and i have been reading it for months to stay on top of Kathleen's progress. I am her friend Kim from North Carolina. I just want you to know that I find your writing delightful. Thank you for the smiles and outright laughs that you gift to me as I read about your life and loves. You are very appreciated.

  11. You need to do what you need to do, but it's not because you are the daughter that you have to take her in. I say if you don't feel happy about it, help find someone to care for her or get your siblings to do it. I'm sure there's a reason for your bad daughter-ship (which probably makes you NOT a bad daughter) and like any teenager knows: it's not like you chose for her to have you. ;-) I hope you find a solution which works for everyone, but mainly for you.

  12. My older Aunt just had hip replacement and chose to go to a nursing home/rehab for a week after the surgery. She had no children to depend on and didn't wish to burden her boyfriend with her care. Imagine that.

    That solution might work for your Mom. You can visit her ass there if you choose to.

    So sorry this has been added to your already very full plate.

    Love you, buddy.

  13. Forgive me for being a twit, but I feel the need to quote Captain Jack...

    "The only rules that really matter are these: what a man can do and what a man can't do."

    "They done what's right by them. Can't expect more than that."

    And what I mean is, if you can't take her in, you can't. And if you feel compelled to take her in, then maybe there's no point in fighting it.

    But DTG and SB may both be right.

  14. I think the nursing home is part of the package one way or the other.

    And I my grandmother had an epidural, not a general anaesthetic - I'm surprised to hear they risked that with any 83 year old. So look into that, if she does go for it.

    wv - captain!

  15. Your post was my first stop today, reminding me about being my mother's caregiver and causing me to appreciate, not for the first time, the generosity, the openness that you and many bloggers exemplify.

  16. Oh Mary, everything you feel is right and okay. Boundaries are a good thing. You can't do it. Once you just say that and allow it she will magically find another solution, really, she will. And yes, she will go to a rehab after and only come home when she can go to bathroom and go up stairs by herself. Don't fret, okay?

  17. You're not a bad daughter. From what I recall, you have adequate reasons to not be close to your mother.
    My mother-in-law was never the same after a knee replacement when she was in her 70s. Maybe it was the anasthesia, as others have said. It hurt so much that she refused to have the other knee done. She refused to do her therapy exercises because they hurt too much and a long, slow decline ensued.
    Not a good situation that she and your brother have put you in. My grandmother used to say that 1 mother could take care of 6 kids but 6 kids can't take care of 1 mother. I'm starting to understand what she meant.

  18. Mama,
    Everyone has said what I wanted to say, and Hank especially, but I also want to reiterate what you said about your house- it is not a good home for someone recovering from knee surgery. And think about her sinuses! The mold! The pollen! The dogs! Oh lord, there is not enough netti potting in the world to make it okay for her to stay there for the two weeks it will take her to recover. Maybe if she was well, but not recovering from surgery. Also, there is Owen. Lily needs you to take care of him. Really. She is not just doing you a favor by letting him come over.
    I vote nursing home for recovery and then paying Nurse Jessie for a little care taking after that. Jess could use her skills and Granny would be in HEAVEN. You know Jessie is the favorite. Too bad Leif isn't in town, although then she would just die from utter joy.
    I love you. You are busy and valuable doing what you are doing.

  19. This is a hard crossroads. Which direction to go?
    I certainly didn't have the history/issues that you have with your mom. I was busy with two kids and a demanding job for which I had to travel when my Mom started going down hill. I tried my best to counsel, help, let her know I cared, yet let her maintain her independence.

    She's been gone 12 years now and when I have stopped to think about it since she died I have felt I could have done more to help her and been more patient with her. I know that impetus partly comes from good ol' catholic guilt but I also think it is a tribal thing. Good, bad, indifferent, awful, we are talking about the matriarch.

    Not wanting to add to your load. These are more general thoughts about culture that have come up in thinking about this post. While traveling I have often found myself wishing we were better at family in my family and in this country.

    I think you do a great job with lovin' and showing love in the Moon family. Wishing you the best answer for all involved.


  20. I like what May said, and not just because I am egotistical and I love it anytime someone says I'm the favorite (although that doesn't hurt). No, no, I agree that Granny and I both would benefit from me taking care of her for a while after her recovery. I think it would be the best solution, for now anyway. I'll talk to her more about it tomorrow since I'm taking her out to dinner, and anyone is welcome to join me, *wink wink*.
    I love you Mama! And you are not a bad daughter.

  21. the aftercare would probably be mostly in care, at nursing home as mentioned--- this is how it was for my grandma. maybe look into that?

    i love you. so glad to hear your voice again.

  22. Jo- Your granny had help from your dad and a carer. There you go. It'll work out.

    Michele R- Yes. I know. But it makes me feel so guilty and yet...

    Ms. Trouble- I think there is a facility for after-surgery rehab. I am thinking this is what will happen.

    DTG- Oh Lord. Why didn't she get a place at Westminster Oaks? She won't leave her little house until...well.

    Photocat- You are right. But my brother who is closest to her lives more than two thousand miles away. Of course.

    Angella- Well, overall my mother is very healthy. She just went through an angiogram (which came out fine) with no problems at all.
    I'm trying so hard to remember that this life of mine IS important. Thank-you, sweet, sweet woman.

    Jeannie- Yes. Of course. My own knees are not at their best. And it makes me feel better to know that you and your mother are not that close either.
    It's so tangled.

    Syd- You are always the voice of quiet, good wisdom. Thank-you.

    Elizabeth- Compared to so much else, learning my lines is a joy. Do you know how much I appreciate you? I doubt it.

    Kim- My first name is Mary. Yes, Kathleen has spoken of you so often. Thank-you for coming by, thank you for reading and now thank-you for commenting. I would always love to know what you think.

    Mwa- Bless you, honey.

    Ms. Bastard-Beloved- Yes. I think at least a week in the rehab will be called for. I wish my mother had a damn boyfriend. I do.
    I love you.

    Stephanie- That reminds me of what Mr. Moon's daddy always said, "I've done all I'm big enough to do." And he was mighty big.

    Jo- Verification words are getting scary.

    Marylinn- We bleed our hearts here as well as blessing them. It's a blessing.

    Bethany- I am kissing your cheek. Okay.

    May- You make me laugh so hard, my love. If Leif was here...
    No kidding.
    Granny certainly has her favorites, doesn't she? And she is not afraid to talk about them. I think you're right and Jessie is fine with that idea.
    I love you.

    N2- Our culture is odd in so many ways, and in the way we take care of our elderly, VERY odd. I don't want to live with regrets but I am not always sure how to live. I think that would sum it up.

    Honeyluna- Well, no wonder you are her favorite. Taking her out to dinner! Uh, sorry. I have rehearsal. I won't be there. But if you think you can move in and help her, it would be such a gift.
    Oh girl. My baby girl. Thank-you. I love you.

    Maggie May- It just makes me cry (quite literally) that you have visited me tonight. I wish you good sleep with that now-well baby in your own bed. I am loving you and all of yours and please tell Mr. Curry how highly I think of him.

  23. I hope it's okay that I didn't offer any advice,
    to close to home and all.

    I appreciate your honesty, and being able to read everyone's comments.

    Owen is looking so grown up.. those overalls , the hair.
    I look at the photos and think.. what if I ran into him somewhere ( remote remote statistically impossible),
    and scooped him up to say hello and he'd be traumatized by some crazy lady!

  24. deb- I was just thinking today how many people have been watching Owen grow since he was born and think of him as sort of family. He has no idea.

  25. The anchor of guilt around your neck...I'm finally pulling my head back above water and I don't want to see you out there drowning too. You can only do what you can do. The end.

    I agree with the other commenters that at her age she needs to go someplace where she can get the rehab and help she needs for recovery.

  26. Just send her over to me. I might be able to find her a room to recover in, and a handful of 80 year olds to keep her company.

    You have enough on your plate. There's no reason at all you should feel guilty. None.

  27. I saw this post and I keep telling myself "I have to read" but I am still falling terribly behind on reading let alone writing. Yet it kept playing in my head Mary...because I understand your pain with mother. How I wish you knew you are not alone in the decision, the guilt (I am writing about guilt in new post yet to be posted). It is a cross to bear for those of us who have 'untidy' relationships with family (mother for us) and for others almost a loving bonding experience to be remembered in some weird fond way. (?) I take it that your brother is not the caregiver type since it sounds like he has a closer relationship. Perhaps you could communicate and enlist his help. Maybe offer to bring some meals and ask if any neighbors to her would look in on her. Normally one goes into a rehab facility to start physical therapy post surgery. If she doesn't do the therapy then her ability to use her 'new' knee will be for naught....just minus the brunt of her pain....

    I may be late in writing but my thoughts are there for you...

  28. Mel's Way- She will go to rehab, I feel certain. And then Jessie, my youngest, is going to help her. Bless Jessie.
    Bless all my babies.

    Angie- But don't you work at a hospice? I think she'd get suspicious! (Ha!)

    Ellen- It's going to be okay, I know it is. It was just one more thing that day that I felt was crushing me. You know? You know.
    She will do her rehab. Believe me. She is like the world's most compliant patient.
    Thanks for coming back to comment. I mean it.


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