family
Comments 64

She’s slipping through my fingers, and there’s nothing I can do

I’ve written before about Mum, who’s 81 and lives in the UK, most recently HERE- ‘Mother and daughter out for a walk’ , and a longer one last year about the health situation HERE- ‘Down the long lane’.

This morning I opened the late-night email I’ve been half dreading for at least 18 months:

“I need to let you know that your mum is not too well… her dementia has deteriorated.  She had not been eating well and not been taking her medication for the dementia and is in a very confused state…”

F*ck! There’s no other response. I feel sick. And kinda helpless. I’m in Australia, with a son who’s just started his final year of school, a home to run which includes a cat, a self-employed performing business to take care of, and Pilates clients to teach every week as well. Plus my interstate beloved ‘H’ to connect with regularly.

I look at my diary, flicking pages back and forth. Can I cancel everything to jump on a plane? Is that the best idea? For me, or for her? What about my younger brother- he’s much closer- why doesn’t he go?

The email goes on to reassure me somewhat: she’s staying with her cousin in-law, her doctor has requested an urgent ‘care needs assessment’ (I’d registered her for all that when I was just there in July), and there’s a room coming up in a residential facility…

But what about her rented garden flat? Stuffed full of memories, china ornaments, scruffy antique furniture, photos, paperwork, dusty jewellery I used to play with, the large-button phone I just bought her at the end of summer, and all the other symbols of independent living I so associate with her: the vintage French crockery from her life there in the 90s, bookcases piled with favourite reads from her career as a librarian, plus 2 creaky wardrobes hung with well-matched outfits in her preferred shades of magenta, forest green, and silver.

What happens to all that? They’re just ‘things’, I know. But they’re ‘Mum’s things’. And in a way, they’re ‘Mum’, especially as we live so far apart (& have done for over 30 years). When I call her every week, I picture her answering the new large-button phone standing by the smaller bookcase with those photos of me and my brother and our various cats and dogs on it, next to her magazine rack with the weekly Radio Times TV Guide in it, just like she always had…

That image of her is slipping; turning to smoke, and I can’t hold it. I’m crying, my hands are grasping, my stomach’s turning, and the email tells me someone else is feeding and looking after her, but permanent arrangements will need to be made.

For now, I’m writing this down to get some clarity, and making phone calls/sending emails.

But f*ck. I don’t know what to do for the best. For her, for me, or for my son. F*ck.

 

IMG_9412

July 2017- Mum’s first selfie

 

64 Comments

  1. Rachel McAlpine says

    Heartbreaking. And no escape. You will do what must be done, one step at a time. And weep. And survive, miraculously.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is so difficult. I dread this situation. I, too, live too far from my mother. My brother has gotten closer to her over the past year which brings me some comfort.
    Take your time, think carefully and make arrangements that will not hurt other important people, like your son.
    If you need, I’m all ears and you can reach me with the click of a (few) button (s). 💖💙

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Tough stuff G!! Hard decisions but I am sure you will make the right one when you are ready to, your Pilates clients should be the least of your worries, we will be ready and waiting for you anytime you are available, but family should always come first! Sending lots of hugs xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks S- I know people always respond so kindly to family dramas, but my clients are just one of the responsibilities I really enjoy about my life here… I wish I could move Australia closer to England! 😐

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  4. Big hugs.
    This never going to be easy, no matter what you decide to do.

    Some thoughts:
    You come first. There’s no point debating what to do for, and with, others unless you are firmly centered and grounded in your own Power.
    Who your mum is now, is a different person from who she is in your memories, and its not possible to engage with the needs of the one from your heart’s desire of the other.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Omg that’s good advice! And so so true- thanks Widds. I’ve been realizing I need to let go of who she WAS, & see the reality of Now, not our pasts… grounding myself is very important. Thank you so much for caring & commenting so wisely xx ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh my God ! It happens to so many people, I was lucky to be in the same country, not so far away. I suppose you just work it out one day at a time, one step at a time.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. To touch on lifecameos comment, you can never base a decision on what ifs. And I’m sure your Mum is very proud of the person you are and how your life has evolved. Staying or emigrating, just makes your life different, not better or worse. (That came out wrong, of course I hope it made your life better! 😉 ). I hope you find lots of support from the various agencies and organisations in the UK to help you and your Mum in the best way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Lockwood- yes, I have loved my life here, and really don’t want to go back to the UK… I am engaging with various agencies, but they all seem slow and of course ‘under funded’… it’s a little frustrating to say the least. Thank you for your support

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  7. Such a difficult time, and why they call it the sandwich years. My mom opted for a nursing home just at the time I fell ill, so my younger sister had to clean out her apartment with little help from me – a lot of guilt involved. I will say my mother has done so much better since the move, and now at 90 accredits her long life to the help she gets. My therapist says “you do what you can” and “you are not responsible for the whole piece”. Take care.

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    • Wow, thanks VJ, I never heard it called that before, but it totally makes sense! I’m SURE my Mum would do better in a nursing home, but she has an incredible resistance to anything like that, so it’s very tricky to negotiate… Her Mum lived to 92 in a similar situation and state though…

      Good advice from your therapist, thanks, I definitely have to remind myself of that. Thank you for this kind & helpful comment

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Having been there with my mother in law, and yes we too lived in different countries, I really feel for you. There is no easy answer to this, what my husband do isn’t necessarily what you need to do. The only advice I can give is to do what will give you peace now and will after your mother has passed on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Yvonne for commenting with your experience, that is so helpful. The answer is indeed not easy… no matter what it is… Now or Later…

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  9. So sorry to hear about this! I can’t imagine having to go through it, but it sounds like you have a really good support system to help you (both in the UK and at home). Sending lots of positive vibes for you! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Having endured this situation myself, I can only hold your heart as you walk this path. I hope you can find comfort in knowing you are not alone. It’s a new chapter on this journey of life for you and for her. Luckily you have your cousin-in-law there to help facilitate and your brother (who needs to step up) to do what needs to be done. If you can facilitate things from your end by phone, that’s the best way for now. Save the trip for when things are more dire (even though the feeling is that things are dire now). A move to a facility where she has 24 hr care is good. She can bring a few treasured momentos with her. The rest, at some point, you will need to be there to distribute or put away for now. I have done this twice myself with loved family members, putting them into facilities, cleaning out their homes and selling them and it’s very hard. I understand. Sending you big hugs xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh Janie, thank you for commenting with such practical advice, thank you! It’s made me a bit teary; everyone is so sweet here. My brother DEFINITELY needs to step up, so I’ve enlisted my other cousin in London to help get that happening. I think you’re right to try and sort stuff from here rather than jump on a plane- I was just there with her in late July- my other awesome cousin is going to visit her today and report back to me tomorrow… so I’m doing what I can. I really want her to get 24hr care if possible, but she is VERY resistant to moving. Thank you so much once again xo

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  11. I am so so very sorry, I know exactly how you are feeling as I am going through the same thing with my Mum. I made a mad dash to Australia in June because we thought my Mum was not going to make it. Luckily she pulled through. I also have the benefit that she lives with my Sister so I know she is in good hands.
    I am sending you huge cyber hugs and I hope some clarity comes to you on what direction you feel is best for you to take. It is never easy when there is so much distance and so many things to take into consideration

    Liked by 1 person

    • How crazy that we are in a similar situation! How I WISH I had a sister that my Mum was living with- that would ease my mind so much. It helps to know that others are thinking of me, and sending good vibes and hugs, thanks Jad xO

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  12. The truth is there are no simple answers. I took care of my Dad by myself for nearly 10 years. I gave my Dad all of me some days and it still wasn’t enough. I wish someone had convinced me earlier to place him in an environment where he was with healthcare pros around the clock. He was always there for my family. I didn’t want to let him down by not being there for him. Love is a verb. It is found in the things we do for others. Listen to what your heart tells you. If you feel a deep burn in your soul that says go to her, find a way. There is nothing worse than trying to sleep on a bed of regrets. I wish I could help you but I live way too far away from you both. I will keep you in my (positive) thoughts. {{{hug}}}

    Liked by 1 person

    • Trish, THANK you so much for sharing your experience, and taking the time to try and support me. Your words are invaluable, believe me. And I must admit I couldn’t take care of my Mum like that; my priority is definitely my son and his future. But I can do as best I can within those parameters, and my younger brother needs to take responsibility too… but that’s a whole other blog post. Thanks again, and hug returned {{ }}

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  13. Sorry to hear. Hard year too. Our son is also doing VCE this year . Even last year we didn’t attend my sister’s wedding in Ireland.
    The year is nearly over. May be once he’s done his exams?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good advice, thank you.It’s hard isn’t it, feeling caught between the past and the present/future somehow? Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment, it’s much appreciated, G

      Liked by 1 person

      • My grandma had dementia. She absolutely hated the nursing home. Every time I visited her she would ask me get me out of here. When am I going home ? She lived quite a few years before she passed . It was heartbreaking. We couldn’t afford 24 hours care at home. Going rate is like $30 an hour day time not sure about night time.

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  14. I feel your emotion, later this week is the 3 year anniversary of my Moms passing. My dad was 91 when she passed away and they were married more than 60 years he is now 94 and very dependent of myself and my husband, my brother and his fulltime caregiver. Since her death my hubby and I have been there every other night, I shop for him and make him dinner and spent time with him. This has put a strain on my life and my marriage but it has to be done. I am very glad he is still with us, but being the dedicated daughter gets old.

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    • Oh dear, what a difficult time it is, as our parents age. I must admit, my Mum and I were never that close… and yes, it’s tiring feeling the extended family pressure to be the one to ‘solve’ this situation; my younger brother and she were waaay closer in our childhoods, and I am very disappointed at his lack of involvement or support. But that’s another post : (
      Thank you so much for reading & commenting

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  15. Trace-Blogs says

    I have no sage advice but just wanted to send you a huge hug. I attempt to live on opposite sides of the country. I have one foot east and one foot west. It feels impossible. Maybe you could wait until the end of the term and then go over there for Christmas so you can make a better assessment ad tell your brother face to face he must step up? Take your son with you? Much love x

    Liked by 1 person

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