Friday, March 07, 2008

The First Accident

Mom peed her pants today for the first time. Not very much, and she was with the aide watching television when it happened, so the aide helped her to the bathroom and got her fresh clothes. The aide told me later that mother was really embarrassed, crying about it, and hoped I didn't know what happened.

Fear of other's knowing things was a theme today. At sundown, we went through the "when am I going home" routine. It's a circular conversation. One question leads to another, and another, and eventually ends right back at "when am I going home?" I do it about five times before I get frustrated and make an excuse to leave the room.

She is aware that there is something really wrong with her head. "Why don't they take x-rays or something?" I remind her she's been through all sorts of tests and that's why she takes so much medicine. "What medicine," she demands with an unbelieving tone like I'm lying to her. "Ummm, you know, all the pills you bitch about taking every morning when I give them to you. Yep, those pills," I said to myself.

Then she asks if everyone knows that she's like this. I say everyone that knows her knows. That bothers her. Then she asks if her parents know. I tell her they died before this came on. "Good," she says with some satisfaction, and I know it comes from a place of not wanting to disappoint her family and add to their worries. We are a family of keeping things to ourselves. Push it down, way down, and keep your mouth shut.

She grew up very poor on a farm and there was no allowance for complaining...keep it to yourself because there's work to do. When you hear the stories of walking miles in the snow to school, she isn't kidding. I've driven the distance she had to walk and I can't imagine it. And when she says they did it with cardboard in their shoes to cover the holes in the soles, she isn't kidding. And when she says she had to get up at 4 a.m. to help milk the cows and do other chores before she had to walk those miles in freezing weather and snow on a rural dirt road, she isn't kidding then either.

My mom has had a rough life and it pains me greatly to think about it.


Anonymous said...

ah , my heart is breaking or cracking a wee bit. Take comfort my friend, for what you are doing now..and your empathy for her. Your love. Well its your walk for miles to school in the snow, this time you are holding her hand. She is not alone , even if she forgets that..from time to time. You are her comfort. She is not in a nursing home, she is in the warm glow of her sons..her family who love her.Its the best possible world for an unbearably heartbreaking circumstance. YOY - hang in there brother.

Lacey said...

It pains me greatly to read about it. My eyes are burning. Some of my most treasured memories are of the times that my mother actually admitted that she needed me to help her. Why do I torture myself all these years later. One weekend when she was very sick, she asked me to give her a perm. A Toni. This is so significant to me. First, for her to admit that she had a thirty year old son who KNEW how to give a permanent...and second, because she was so sick, and I knew why she wanted a perm. She wanted her hair to look nice for the funeral. Oh god. Crying at work, and it's so early in the day.

Buck up son. You are a REALLY good man. I know you are.

ArichNY said...

Now I'm crying too. My Mother died in 1993. It's hard to believe that it's almost 15 years (Easter week this year). I guess I am lucky in that she didn't suffer for a long time. She was in intensive care for 2 weeks before she passed away. I will always miss her. I admire you, G. You are doing a good thing. I know that you also need to take care of yourself, and that's the hard part. Hugs and good wishes to you. R

A Single Man said...

I'm so sorry that you have to deal with all this. It's hard enough to support someone through an illness and embarassing stuff (peeing oneself), but it makes it harder when aren't cogent or can't remember or make leaps of logic. You want to help them feel better, but they can't reven remember why they don't feel well sometime.

You are doing God's work and there is a special place in heaven for folks like you...well, like us.

I remember once having to clean up H's diarrhea and how embarassed he was that he not only lost control, but that he was too sick to help clean it up. He cried and cried. I told him that I loved him no matter what and that his secret was safe with me. He stopped crying almost immediately.

By now, he's forgotten the incident. But I use the "your secret is safe with me" and "I'll make sure it's OK" as I need to when he's embarassed about something. It seems to work most of the time.