Finding Peace — Manuscript Post #37
I had decided that I would travel the seven-hundred miles to visit my mother. At this point, she had been in the hospital for some time. Snap was living in her apartment. He had lived with her all his life. Pop lived in the same city but had no contact with them. Crackle was thousands of miles away.
In keeping with my decision to not be manipulated and to communicate everything I knew to all my siblings, I kept notes of my trip. I also reviewed these notes when I returned home and wrote up another more detailed record of my trip.
I emailed my siblings my travel plans. I arranged to meet Snap at the hospital to visit my mother. Since Pop was living in the same city, I asked him in my email if he wanted to visit her with me. Pop replied that he did not want to see our mother. His response seemed aloof to me as if he was unaffected, above it all. He told me that Snap “does this every so often”, meaning that Snap had often times reported that my mother was near death. Since I had been contacted by Crackle as well, I was convinced this was more serious than the usual drama.
On the way to the airport to leave on my trip, I felt relieved because I had made the decision that I would participate in this process. I felt relieved to no longer be debating whether I would go or not. Once the decision to go had been made I could focus on what needed to be done once I got there.
I visited for three days. During the first day, I met Snap at the hospital and saw my mother. He and I talked with the doctors, a social worker and a case worker. I learned more details of her condition which was serious. We were told she might get better, but I was convinced they didn’t think this was likely. They offered several options for her care after she leaves the hospital. They discussed hospice care and a skilled nursing facility. The mention of hospice care was not received well. It was clear to me that Snap was not ready to accept that our mother might be close to the end of her life.
They asked about advanced directives, in other words, how much effort do we want to keep our mother alive. I told them that I would support whatever decisions Snap made. He had been living with her for many years so I assumed he knew better than I what my mother would have wanted. It was clear from the paperwork I was shown that he did indeed have power of attorney for health care decisions for my mother. I was relieved to see this had been formally established. It made things much simpler to have one person that was legally empowered to make these needed decisions. They also discussed which care options would be covered by Medicare, Medicaid and which were not.
When I first saw my mother I was surprised that I wasn’t shocked by her appearance. She looker smaller and very frail. She didn’t really know where she was. Some moments she seemed to know who I was but then she would fade away. I was very glad I had travelled to see her. I was surprised how good it felt when she told me she was glad I came.
She wasn’t eating enough so a feeding tube had been put in place. She pulled it out and they have to put gloves on her hands so she couldn’t pull it out again. Because of the gloves she was having trouble eating and I helped her. It felt good to help her.
It was clear she was having some level of dementia. She told me that she was convinced the Broadway was accusing her of shoplifting the gloves. The Broadway was a department store I went to with her when I was very young. I remember riding the bus with her to downtown Los Angeles, through the smog that was so much worse back then. She bought me my first calculator there when I was about to leave for college.
I started the second day of my trip visiting Pop. He knew I was in town to visit our mother. He hadn’t seen or spoken to our mother for a number of years. He was also not speaking to Crackle or Snap. I had sent email to all of my siblings describing what was happening and what my travel plans were. Pop told me that as far as seeing my mother, or being involved with whatever care she might need, he felt it was “best for everyone that he not be involved”.
I thought this was an interesting way to put it. Instead of simply saying he didn’t want to be involved, he made it sound like he was doing what was best for all of us. It also left some wiggle room. If he had told me he simply wouldn’t be involved, I would have been fine with that, and I would have moved on without him. It would have been simpler for me if he had removed himself completely.
I had also decided to not be manipulated anymore. I could see this manipulation coming. If I had not told him what was going on, he could claim he had wanted to be involved but I didn’t allow him to be. He would blame me for excluding him. Since I had already been telling everyone everything, this manipulation was cut off. His statement that it was best that he not be involved was suitably vague. He didn’t really say he wouldn’t be involved, but he made no commitment to help either. I knew that if I reacted to his statement, that would be used later to create drama. If I had said he ‘should’ be involved in his mother’s end-of-life care, then I was telling him what to do and I am certainly not the ‘boss of him’. I simply let him say whatever he had to say and I didn’t react to it. I would continue to tell everyone everything I knew. No one would be able to claim I didn’t let them participate.
I found it interesting, after he told me it would be best that he not be involved, he wanted to know all the details of what was happening. He wanted to be involved, but he didn’t want to be expected to actually help.
He wanted to talk about our mother, how she and our father met and how his family didn’t like her. He said he told me this because it shows how little we know about our own family. During one of my sessions Elsie and I discussed how little I know about my own family, how I never met my father’s parents. I decided to tell him that I was in therapy. I was curious how he would react. He wanted to know when and why I started therapy. I told him I had started about six months ago and I was going because I was so affected by my sons leaving for college.
He told me that he had been to therapy but quit because he didn’t need someone to tell him how he would react to things. He was very clear that he already understood all the things the therapist brought up. He asked me if it was “the law” that I had to talk to a therapist to get drugs. He sounded frustrated that he couldn’t get ‘drugs’ without actually interacting with a therapist.
It became clear that he had been prescribed drugs while in therapy but he stopped taking them. I wonder if the people living with him would prefer he was still doing both, the therapy and the drugs prescribed. This also meant that in addition to my mother, Pop had also been medicated as part of therapy. I wondered if this meant I would end up on medication as well.