37-41 TIME TO OPEN THE ATTIC DOOR
WHEN IS IT MY TURN?
Occasionally, I wanted it to be my turn to do what I wanted. I had an opportunity to go away to a lake on Mother’s Day and I didn’t want to tell my mother where I was going. I was over at their house several times before the weekend. “why can’t you come over here on Mother’s Day?” she asked. “I’m a mother too!” I responded. I just didn’t want her to know that I was going to be with Michael’s family on a lake. We would be with his mother and she would be jealous.
Michael and I got up early, and without a call to my mother, headed out. I had a fantastic day. We had a great carry-in and stayed for most of the day. When I came home, I saw my answering machine blinking. It said I had 7 messages. The first message I listened to was from my brother Bill. He said “Lana, do not listen to the messages on your machine. Call me immediately!”.
I called Bill and he told me that my father had passed away. My mother had been calling my house all morning to say that my father was hanging off the edge of his bed and she couldn’t wake him and didn’t know what to do. If it hadn’t been for my son coming home, my dad might have laid there until I came home. Jeff told his grandmother to call 911.
I cried; I was in shock! I never went anywhere! But the one time I did? My father passes away. I rushed over to my mother’s house to find her walking in circles. She had finally called my brother who had contacted a funeral home, planned the funeral and arranged to have my father buried in Milwaukee Wisconsin; all while I was having a good time at the lake. Now, what would I do with my mother?
Life without my dad was a nightmare for my mother, and it was no picnic for me. She had never been on her own. She hadn’t paid a bill, filed her own taxes or even knew which bank her money was in. My dad had liked it that way. Whenever he got upset with her, he would take all the money from one bank and put it in another, without her being any the wiser. I had my job cut out for me.
The first time I did her taxes, I found out that my father had claimed she was “legally blind” so that he wouldn’t need her there to sign the paperwork. I took her to an eye doctor only to find out she had at one time suffered a stroke in her eye. Mother had gone so long without proper fitting dentures she could no longer wear them at all. I bought her clothes, purchased her groceries and came over every day.
Everywhere I looked I saw my father. They had lived in two separate living rooms. and watching two separate TV’s. They each had a bedroom on opposite ends of the house, yet everywhere we would look there were memories of him. My mother had sat in her chair for so long, she could barely stand, so I took charge or removing all his personal effects.
Mother was getting handy with infomercial shopping. One day I intercepted a box as I was walking up her driveway to mow the lawn. Something prompted me to open it. It contained a diet pill. As a diabetic, this pill would have really messed with her body. I came up with a scathingly brilliant idea. I took the box home, opened the bottle and replaced the diet powder with gelatin capsules. I also made a fake information sheet. It said: “This pill should not be taken by anyone with diabetes. It could cause death or worse!” I brought the box back the next day and handed it to her. She wasn’t interested in opening it then, but I did notice her nails looked amazing after a few weeks.
Mother also wanted to drive. THAT could not happen, so I confiscated her van the day my father passed away. She was not happy with me! I told her I did not want her to get lost again.
For the first few weeks I shopped for her, paid her bills, took her to the doctor, made up her pills, cleaned her house and did anything else she could or would not do for herself, but then a neighbor called me. She told me that my mother was trying to get her to purchase OTC medication for her. It was clear; she would not be able to live alone. I was going to have to get her to live with me.
WHAT HAVE I DONE?
It took a lot of convincing, but I persuaded my mother to allow me to sell her home and move into my back bedroom. She would have her own bathroom and I would hook up cable in her room, put in a phone, make her meals etc. I would get her a home health aide to help her with showering.
Mother finally consented, but not before I told her how much it would help me if she bought the groceries for the house. That seemed to do the trick and she reluctantly moved in. Her only assigned job was to wash her clothing.
After my father passed, I naïvely looked forward to my mother’s new life! I was certain that finally, after nearly 60 years of mental abuse and emotional trauma, my mother would feel free! She would find peace in her heart and life and begin to live her remaining years here on this earth. I had no way of knowing that our relationship was about to change completely and not in a positive way.
My mother had been a victim for so many years that she knew no other way to live. She now resented me and fought me at every step. I believe her old life had somehow excused her from all responsibility, and now she missed it and the attention it brought.
I would come home after a long day at work and make supper. I asked her to come sit with me. She wouldn’t. no matter how much I tried to coax her. I asked her to watch TV with us in the living room. She refused. Mother basically stayed in her room every day, all day and slept. She would only begrudgingly walk out of her room to retrieve her medication that I put together for her each week. Mother said she didn’t want to eat my meals and get as fat as me, so I attempted to make her food she would eat. I know that she was in deep depression, mourning the man she could not live with. And now she needed to find a new abuser in order to retain her victim status, and that person was me.
Mother would call her sister and my sister-in-law to tell her tale of woe. She now was angry and upset that I controlled her pills and she told them she no longer wanted to live. I was beginning to dislike her. A LOT.
I now was her abuser She was the victim. My father was the reason for her unhappiness before, but when he died, she had no one to blame for all her problems. She decided that person could be me! I was now the reason for her pain. And this nearly sent me over the edge.
I NOW HAD A STORY TO TELL
While listening to podcasts on the internet I came across one that caught my interest. GNC (Geek News Central) The ease in which the podcast was produced; the interesting subject matter captivated me. One day Todd introduced his mother Cherie, who shared her own personal story, and I was hooked. An idea formed in my mind and next thing I knew? I put up my own website and decided to tell “my story”. I wanted to produce my own podcast!
I wanted to do this. I needed to do this, in order to escape the frustrations of having my mother live with me. I would sit on my bed and shut the door while I talked into the microphone. It took me nearly a week to produce one podcast because I wrote every word I said. But I loved every minute of it.
It helps to talk about what we are going through. And boy did I talk! I am still talking about my life. And believe it or not, it still helps.
CHRISTMAS TREE, OH CHRISTMAS TREE
While I could not get my mother to enter my world, I could on occasion, enter hers. For whatever reason I would not sit in her room with her. She would invite, me but because of my stubbornness, and the fact that I worked all day and wanted to sit in my chair, I refused. I was more of a maid then I was a daughter. On the occasion I would sit down with her, she would upset me. I took good care of her. I just did not want to spend more time with her then necessary.
We found one area that was neutral ground. Shopping. My mother loved the Christmas decorations and so she would go with me to Walmart just to look around. One day she decided to purchase her own little tree and decorate it. We made many trips to Walmart and bought everything from tinsel to tiny “socks”, bells and glass hummingbirds. It made her happy and it made me happy as well. I still remember those shopping trips fondly.