Mom Saga


Mom is apparently becoming a little more comfortable in our house.  Though I dearly wish she would stay out of my kitchen.  I’ve offered to bring her a chair to sit on so we can visit while I am doing dishes, but she seems to prefer standing in the doorway, somewhat trapping me in the kitchen.  Sigh.  I know it isn’t much, but it takes some getting used to and I’m trying not to grind my teeth when it frustrates me.

I’m doing my best and holding my tongue as much as I can.  Now I have another one who I have to listen to as well.  And I’ve discovered she is unable to hold a conversation.  Such a huge obstacle to overcome.  But I’m treating her as I do my son, with “uh huhs” and the like.  She mostly repeats what she’s heard or read on TV.  In case we missed it, I guess.  It’s just an annoying habit, and surely one I am big enough to ignore.

When I say she can’t have a conversation, I mean that all she does do is repeat what she’s heard or seen.  If my husband tells me dinner was tastey, she’s the next one to say it.  Never first, always second.  She reminds me of a parrot.  It’s the same every day, the same comments.  Mom has always done this.  Everytime we drove down a certain street, we passed a farm with a sign “Okra $5 a barrel” or something like that.  Every time we drove past that sign Mom would ask us if we liked okra, then proceeds to tell us that she didn’t.   It became a family joke that whenever someone was beating a dead horse, we would ask, “Do you like okra?”

How do you deal with obnoxious behavior in your home?  My grandson likes to make a lot of noise.  Just noise, at all times of day.  It’s part of his hyperactivity.  He always chattered to himself, even before he was old enough to actually talk.  It can get quite annoying and the more you ask him to stop, the louder he becomes.  Sometimes I just have to jump up and yell at him to stop.  I guess its just part of who he is, and only when he gets way out of control do I yell.  I try to remember that when Mom asks me for the umpteenth time, “Do you like okra?” or reads a caption on the television that I am perfectly capable of reading myself.

I know, how can I complain, when my son and grandson have given up their bedroom for their grandma.  I feel like such a jerk, but I can’t help it if something annoys me, can I?  Well, I’m trying to control it, and finding it a little difficult.  It’s sort of like that annoying co-worker who bores you with their exciting tales in the life insurance business, or his lint ball collection, you do the bare minimum required by society.  It makes me uncomfortable, and I’m trying hard to be Buddhist and accept people exactly as they are, but I’m not the Dalai Lama and I have difficulty, as I’m sure other people do.

Her weirdest habit is her constant scratching or brushing of material, whether it’s her sweater, a blanket, or the couch cushion.  I don’t understand this little quirk, but assume it must soothe her when she is anxious, though she does it even when it would seem she is not anxious.  I try to put my chihuahua in her lap and let her scratch the dog.  It doesn’t make any noise, and they both really like it.  Though I don’t think the dog really likes the scent of cigarettes.  Trying to make the best of that as well.

Stock Photo - Open pack of cigarettes and lighter on a light ...I understand now the power of a nicotine addiction.  I also understand that people I know have been able to quit.  Non smokers see smokers as rather ignorant.  I try to be a bit more open minded, at least when it comes to some generations.  I have little sympathy for a 20-something cigarette smoker.  They enter into the habit fully knowing the odds of various health problems inherent in nicotine addiction.   Mom’s generation got hooked long before all the bans and warnings.  Still she should have quit 25 years ago when she had her first heart attack, or after she had her second open heart surgery, or maybe after she had both carotid arteries cleared, but no.  And now why should she quit?  She’s 84 years old and still kicking.  It’s like she’s immune to death.  Maybe the implanted defibrillator has something to do with it.

Outside her parrot-like behavior, Mom is likeable.  A little annoying, but perfectly harmless.  She has no opinions, no thoughts of her own, I wonder why.  Is it a level of intelligence, or merely her personality, it’s still something I try to deal with. I firmly believe she has come me like this at this time in my life to teach me patience.  I need to learn a meditation of patience. 

On the plus side, since she’s moved in I have been more diligent about getting out and running errands or walking.  Now if I can get her to give me the papers I requested from the VA and social security, life would be improved.  She had no idea what the papers were for, and, while I don’t want to take her mail from her, she needs to give the forms to me to fill out or she won’t get anything.  I explained to her several times that the VA would be sending us paperwork to see about her getting R’s navy pension.  When it arrived today, she opened the envelope and studied it for a long while, then put everything back into the envelope and put it away in her room.  I’m betting that she won’t remember where she put it by tomorrow.

10 thoughts on “Mom Saga

  1. I can’t comment on what to do about your grandson because I know he does have the hyperactivity .. But the issue with your Mom I can relate to. My mother lived with us for about 4-5 years after she had brain surgery for an aneurysm and her personality changed gradually at first and then it progressed.

    She would nit pick at our children where before they could do no wrong…she had very irritating habits and ways but remembering she couldn’t help what was happening I tried so hard to be patient and often had to be going to my children to explain ‘Nana’ didn’t mean to be the way she was and then sometimes having to defend them in front of her she would get upset and I would then have to go and console her…. In any case that was probably what was the kick-start to the worst episode of depression I had …and I was in hospital with ECT. For the next 2 years some of my sisters took turns then in caring for her in their home for a couple of months each before she needed care of a nursing home.

    Your Mom, while she is functioning physically, at 84 she is most probably having maybe early symptoms of old age type of dementia…forgetting things or not recognizing the importance of things like the papers she needs to fill out etc. And not really speaking a lot of times with anything meaningful.

    It is such a stressful time and my thoughts are with you. If I was to give you some advice (unasked for) I would say pick the right moment and talk to her. Don’t shy away from telling her that these papers must be done! The longer you wait the more difficult it will be. And ‘suggest’ that you don’t mind looking after this and her other affairs but that she would need to give you authority….eg power of attorney….I know that you don’t want to do this but should she be unable at some point that would leave the gov’t. (at least in Canada) for making these decisions for her and other things also….like medical directive….

    I know you’re likely reaching the end of your rope with all that’s on your mind….and wondering how much more stress you can take….Diane

    1. Diane,

      Thanks as always for your valuable insight. You’re absolutely correct. I need to just sit down with her over the papers. I’ll try to be as gentle as I can and try to let her know that in my past work experience I dealt with survivor’s benefits.

      She is definitely showing signs of her age. Sometimes I think she thinks my son is my husband (her son), other times looking a photos of my husband’s dad, she insists it’s her brother. It’s hard to be patient, but I do my best to let some things just pass by unnoted. Like everything else, it’s a process. I’ll finally be used to having her around about the time she dies, I suppose. (Years hence, I hope.)

  2. for you let me recommend a night guard for the teeth grinding and ear plugs for the day time:) all joking aside i know this has to be stressful for all concerned. she is probably experiencing some degree of dementia, add to that she is losing control of everything in her life. she is no longer in her own home where she can stand wherever she wants and not bother someone. no one wanted to read her mail which we consider very personal and private. not to mention she lost her life partner. at the age of 84 i doubt she is going to stop smoking. yes some people do quit. nicotine is actually as addictive as heroin and i don’t see to many heroin addicts kicking the habit easily.

    maybe the ear plugs and night guard are not a bad idea after all? lol

    1. Thanks for the suggestion. I’m reading Shogun right now, and trying to be very Japanese and not hear things I don’t want to.

      I’m sure it’s been very hard on her, and I’m doing my best to be patient and understanding. I am very thankful I have not had to give up my room where I can escape from time to time and recoup.

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