You know… that Blog?

Living my mother’s life

Written By: Jenn - May• 20•09

What to blog about today… hrm.

Well, my folks went on a casino trip with friends today (my father went kicking and screaming…[not really, but in his mind I’m sure he was trying to find a way out]) and of course, who gets to look after my 97½ year old, incontinent, immobile, incoherent grandmother? Me. Natch. Of course I can just not work today, and drag my 4 year old with me while I fetch and do other things that don’t bear chronicling in here. Why not?

Go, go. Have a good time. Don’t worry about a thing.

It’s actually not all that much work, because once her morning routines (Liz, a wonderful PSW who cleans and dresses her, and Wendy, the wound care nurse who changes and dresses the gaping hole in her derriere that will never heal, courtesy of the nursing staff at the hospital who allowed her to develop a massive bed sore when she was in with a broken hip 3+ years ago) are taken care of, she has her breakfast and then is moved into the family room, where she sits in front of the massive TV perched on the wall and watches reruns of game shows from the 70s. You know the one, Match Game, where most of the people on the panel have been dead for years? All day. At top volume. The walls actually vibrate when a modern commercial comes on. She takes in none of this, because almost the minute she is settled into her chair, it’s lights out until lunch.

Her lunch is (well, will be) served to her in her comfy leather reclining chair, because she doesn’t have the strength to get out of the chair again so soon. It’s a sad life, and sadder still for my mother, who has to do this day in and day out, and watch this once-feisty lady degenerate and regress into infancy. Putting her in a home is out of the question; my mother would never let it happen. Yet having her there, and being her sole caregiver means my mother is a veritable prisoner in her own home, because she can’t leave her alone. Not that grandma would go anywhere, of course, but she has been known to faint and/or tip over to the point where it’s possible she’d tip herself right out of the chair. Mom does get a reprieve twice a week, when Liz comes and spends 3 hours in the house, caring for grandma while Mom escapes for a bit. But what can you do with 3 hours? She shops, wanders around, and then heads home. It’s a farce, but for now it’s all she has, and she’s grateful for it.

I have come to dread the words: “Jenn, we’ve booked our vacation.” My father makes a concerted effort to get Mom out of town at least twice a year. They enjoy cruising (who doesn’t? It’s my favourite vacation!) and do one every year. They are now planning for a vacation to Italy in September for my father’s 65th birthday, and I was horrified to overhear the word “extended” whispered recently.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t begrudge my mother any time away. She deserves it considering what she’s going through on a daily basis. But I am the only one they can count on to be there when they go, and heaping their household on top of me (considering I own 2 businesses and run 2 others, all at the same time, plus my children, plus my rehearsals, plus a few other miscellaneous things in my own household) is really tough on me. I can’t expect my husband or my kids to help me with certain things that need to be done for my grandmother throughout the day, even if they were here and not at work or school. They can’t help with the nurse or the PSW. There are things that they just do not need to see.

My grandmother's hand
I know my grandmother can’t help the way she is now. That she has lived so long and had the life she has had is a grand thing. I am sad that this is the way I will remember her though, when her time finally does arrive.

Go, go. Have a good time. Don’t worry about a thing.

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