Well, she wasn’t so out of it this year, but she’s skin and bone (Brian said when we left and he hugged her goodbye, it gave him the willies). She’s just not eating (“nothing tastes good”). And her home needs a good cleaning.
I think she might be depressed. I think she just sits on her sofa in front of the television all day long. Earlier this month when I’d gone over, her drapes were all pulled and the place was like a mausoleum. Not only that, she still smokes, which doesn’t surprise me at all, but she had all of these air fresheners and candles going to make the place smell better. They really didn’t help at all.
Earlier this year, she let me know she didn’t want to do Christmas dinner. Just do a small gift exchange and that would be it. Not a problem. But after I told her how good our Thanksgiving dinner was from Sprouts, she said maybe we could do that and she’d pay for it. Okay, we’ll do that. And since it has to be heated up, that we’ll come over earlier in the day and Brian can wash her front windows. She’s been complaining about how dirty they are for months, but the only person she asked if they’d do it, they told her it would be $150.00. The windows stayed dirty. Brian said he’d do it while we waited for dinner to heat up. We went over armed with cleaning supplies.
I ordered the meal on the 20th. We went to the store about 2:30 on Monday to pick it up and corporate had not passed the information on to the store. There was no dinner waiting for us. Fortunately, they had enough to put one together for us. We took it over and I asked where the pots and pans were and this started the thing “I don’t have enough pots and pans for all of that food!” Everything was a big issue. I found the stuff I’d need and because it was all pretty dirty (mostly from just sitting in the cupboards and not being used) and started cooking. One thing I had to do was to wash the utensils I needed because they’d been put away with food on them.
And I couldn’t see out of the kitchen window, so I got paper towels and cleaner and cleaned it. When I went on the patio, mom comes up to the inside of the window, with a self-satisfied smirk “you can’t clean it, the screen doesn’t come off”. I just looked at her, and pulled the necessary tabs up on the screen and it popped right out. I smiled at her. She said “oh” and went back to her corner of the sofa. Just staring at the television. And I finished cleaning the window. I also noticed some old drops of something on the little hallway floor and stuff in the kitchen. I used paper towels to clean this mess up. The towels came up black. Her home is in desperate need of a decent cleaning and she can’t clean it. Okay, I understand the floors, she’s always cleaned floors on her hands and knees and because of her osteoporosis, it’s impossible for her. But that doesn’t explain the bathroom counter not being wiped down, the spotting on her bathroom mirror. It doesn’t explain the dishes in the dish drainer, dishes that are supposed to be clean, sitting there with old food caked on them. All of this is alarming to me because my mom was always took care of her house.
I remember as a kid, when dad would be gone for the day, that mom would throw open all of the doors and windows, put on her favorite music, and spend the day cleaning. It was cathartic for her and when done, she was very satisfied with her day’s work, relaxing with a beer and a ciggie. What I was seeing now, wasn’t my mom.
And she showed some confusion. Not much, but enough to catch my attention.
By the end of the evening, I’d told her I wanted her to see a doctor and I wanted to be there with her. And also that I’d be coming over at least once a month to clean her home. There wasn’t much she could say at that point, just agreed.
So, when I talked to her Wednesday morning, she told me I didn’t have to clean, she’d made arrangements with the person who cleaned one of her neighbor’s homes.
Now, one of the things that’s finally gotten through to me is that my mom lies to me. If she thinks it will keep me off of her back, she’ll lie to me. About what she’s eating. For example, back in October, after we got back from Disneyland, I took mom with me to CostCo, where she bought a case of Ensure; she tells me how much she likes it, how she’s been drinking two of them a day - when I ask her if she needs more when Brian and I are going, she tells me “oh, I’ve still got some”. When we went over there Monday, I found a six pack of them and two out of the pack…eight drinks….she wasn’t drinking them like she’d told me. She lies about who’s she’s visiting, who’s calling her, who’s bringing her food, just overall what she’s been doing. You might remember that on Christmas 2006, it came out that she’d been lying to me ever since she’d been diagnosed with breast cancer back in 1999 about not smoking. She promised she’d quit and always gave me good reports about how well she was doing, when I’d talk to her on the phone. But when we dropped in on her last March, bringing her Sharp’s near beer and muffins, on our way home from CostCo, it was obvious she’d been smoking. She was “depressed” since the mechanic who usually worked on her old car, wouldn’t smog check her new one. She bought beer and cigarettes (“they’re just the cheap kind!”) when she left.
But now, when she tells me something, after fifty-four years of believing what she says, I no longer do. I suspect every word out of her mouth, especially when I think she’s trying to not disappoint me. The past year has been a definite learning experience for me.
Anyway, I tell her I’d like to come over when this woman is there to clean her house. “Why?” Oh, just to make sure she does a good job. “Well, I don’t know when she’ll be here.” Okay, then call me when she leaves and I’ll come over to check out the job she’s done. Aha! I’ve hit a nerve. The liar’s nerve. She gets defensive. She thinks this is a prelude to her being put in a home, about losing her independence. She says “I might as well put my head in the oven!” I think to myself “nah, just go on the way you’re going, it’s slower, but you’ll have the same end”. Of course, I’d never say such a thing out loud to her.
I think I am able to explain that I’m just concerned about her, that I never in a million years expected my house to be cleaner than hers. And that it’s more than the floor, it’s the house. We end the conversation.
A couple of hours later, the phone rings. It’s mom. She says “okay, you can clean my house. I just tried to wash the floor and I was down there with a bucket of water and I couldn’t get up. But you have to let me pay you.” Fine, if she pays me, I’m sure she’ll feel a little more independent, like she’s doing me a favor. Twenty bucks. “But don’t be coming over here everyday!” Yeah, like I’d clean house everyday just hoping to get rich. Not me, I’m not a real gung ho housekeeper.
Thursday on our morning conversation, she’s ready to make the doctor’s appointment. She wants to come over and have me make it because she gets frustrated with punching in numbers according to the menu. She’ll be here around ten. Okay with me. She calls again before nine. “I’m on my way!” Okay.
She gets here and I come back to the office to get a pen and paper. I tell her to just take a seat at the table. “Which one?” (She’s standing in the dining room.)
“How many do you see?”
“Then sit at that one, okay?”
Anyway, I get the appointment made (for January 3rd) and give her all of the information. I tell her I’ll be picking her up around 7:30 in the morning. And when she leaves, I start making a list of things I want to discuss with her physician.
Thursday afternoon, someone tells me I should think about talking to her doctor before we go. I think this is a good idea, so I call. I find out there might be a problem because of the HIPPA laws and the fact that I don’t have Power of Attorney. I leave the message for a call back. If there is none, at least I tried. But I got to thinking about the POA and did a little net research. I can fill out the form online and print it out and take it to a notary. And I read about the living will. My only concern is that my mother will think I’m trying to off her, that I’m after her money. Which I’m not, but unless she has a major change in thinking about her life (and eating habits), POA and the LW are a definite good thing to have.
I bring that up to her yesterday morning and she’s okay with it. This morning (because of how frail she looked Monday, I’ll be calling her seven days a week, not just during the week; like Brian said if something happened to her on Friday night, she could very well just be laying there over the weekend, in pain or worse), she says “now these papers you want me to sign, is this so you can put me in a home?”
Anyway, I’m hoping to have a resolution with her health by the end of the month. I’m hoping (praying) that her lack of appetite can be cured with medication. It’s possible that she’s just depressed. This morning, she mentioned the onset of dementia. That scares me. I tell her that’s one of the reasons that we’re going to the doctor, that maybe there’s some physical cause for what’s been going on with her.
She did sound good this morning. Said she’d had a great night’s sleep. Told me about being invited to a neighbor’s house for New Year’s Eve. That at first, she hadn’t thought about going, but she changed her mind. I like hearing this, being out around people is good for her. I just hope she’s not lying.