Thursday, December 13, 2012


It was a listening night last night and it was a beautiful night of music and I was so glad I went. I got sparkled up and velveted up and we had a nice supper and I saw old friends and it was just good. How strange to go out on a Wednesday night, but how nice to kiss and hug and be kissed and hugged, how fine to feel filled up with the music, Lis's voice, the sweetness of it all.

And it's still gray today and tonight's the night we're supposed to go to the big holiday dinner at the assisted living where Mother lives but I just talked to her and she sounds awful. She's nauseated, has been for three days, she says, and so I'm going up there now. She's going to see the doctor around noon and I need to be there. She sounds awful, just awful and I hate that. I hate that she feels so bad. She told me that no one had brought her anything to eat or drink but of course they have. I've spoken to the nurse and to the aid and she has bananas and crackers and ginger ale but she feels so alone and in a way, she is and so I need to go up there.

I have always felt helpless in the face of my mother's needs. From the time I was a small child. And here I am again, and again, I feel like a small child dressing up as an adult, trying to fix something unfixable, my hands empty, my heart tiny and shrunken, compressed by the knowledge that I cannot really do anything at all, this life-long sense of failure dragging behind me like a stone, so dense that science alone cannot explain it.

Or perhaps I am just being dramatic and self-centered and that would not surprise me and all I really need to do is listen.


  1. You're doing you gd best. That is all you can do, and it IS enough.

    Glad last night was a good time.

  2. If you could do something, you'd do it. Right? So listening sounds good. Tea and sympathy. Maybe that's all she needs from you.

  3. Yes. What Jill said.
    And, yes. Listen. It will be hard, but you'll do it.
    Your relationship with your mother is much more complicated than what I have with mine.
    Wishing you luck.

  4. Dang it Mary, that whole paragraph about helplessness in the face of your mother's needs made me cry. It is a terrible time warp, trying to be adult as a child, feeling like a child as an adult. It just is what it is, no matter how much we wish it were something else.

    You are a good daughter. I have never once considered you dramatic or self centered, just honest. But I also know that no matter what anyone else thinks, it's the voice inside our heads that speaks the loudest.

    I hope your mom feels better soon. Hope you took her some of those cookies.


  5. My aunt and I have had conversations about my grandma who is in a similar situation as your mom and we came to the conclusion that she really just needs someone to look out for her, like a mom. In many ways my grandma has become my aunt's "third child". You may need to let go of the idea of being a good daughter (which, by the way, you're the best daughter you can be) and focus on being a good "mom" to her. Your kids can attest to the fact that you are an amazing mother, so maybe this mind-shift will help. But dealing with the aged family member is always rough, no matter the prior history, so don't let your particular situation make you feel like it should be easier. Does this make any sense, or should I just shut up now and say, "Hope she feels better soon."

  6. It's strange that our parents (no matter how old we are) can always make us feel like children. Sometimes around my dad, I feel like I'm 12 years old, quiet and willing with all of my silence that he'll actually be there for once. It's strange that all we've been through, all we've overcome without them is almost null in their presence.
    You haven't failed. At least from where I sit. You're a great mother and grandmother.

  7. Anne Lamott talked about just pouring water for people -- I think you're pouring water for your mother, now, in the present. And that has to be enough. I wish I could step on that trail of failure that you imagine, and I'd keep it in the past where it belongs. Because today you're pouring water.

  8. Sometimes just showing up is all that matters. And sometimes staying home is OK too. We all do our best everyday. Breathe, Ms. Moon. You are a good daughter.

  9. This makes me feel completely guilty, because my poor parents are so far away. I'm a terrible son, living overseas when they're getting old!

    I'm glad your mom seemed to improve as the day went on. In the photos at the top she's downright happy and smiling. What a relief!

  10. Jill- It really was a good time. I was glad I'd gone.

    Jo- She really just needs some attention. I know it.

    Denise- I envy your relationship with your mom SO much.

    Mel- I did take her some cookies. A few minutes later she looked at them and thought they were cookies that someone else had given her a week ago. I doubt she'll eat them.

    Sarah- The problem is (or one of them, at least) is that my mother has ALWAYS wanted me to be the mom. Our "split" came when I started refusing about twenty-something years ago. She's been pissed at me ever since. But now, well, I guess I have to. At least at this point, it's a more natural thing.

    Rachel- Thank-you. It's very hard, isn't it?

    Elizabeth- I think I need stone-cutters. Or something.

    Birdie- Yep. Just showing up. Sometimes that really is all I need to do.

    Steve- Yeah. She recovered pretty nicely. Don't feel guilty- you've got a life and I'm sure your parents are proud of you and glad for that. I would be. But I would miss you.

  11. Hello my love. Lon and I appreciated you and Glen coming out to party on Wednesday night more than we can say. May I say you looked incredible? A vision of beautiful blonde holiday loveliness and velvet sparkle alongside your handsome husband.

    May I also say that those cookies were gone by the time we were in Greenville. And that bread is insane. You are so amazingly thoughtful and generous.

    I finished the save-the-date thingie and sent it up to Jessie this morning. Yay!

    I miss you more than ever.

    All my love,


    xo xo

  12. I also felt bad for having my mother in a home and now my FIL is in one. But I simply do not want to care take them. It is too much for either of us. And my mother was happy, I do know that. My FIL is not happy at all.


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