My mother is in the hospital again. She just moved back to her home after being with me for about six weeks following hip replacement surgery. Three days after being home she fell and fractured her pelvis in two places. According to her, she was just hanging up her coat when she lost her balance.
Of course, it’s obvious to me, and to my siblings, that her townhouse isn’t the place for an 82-year-old woman with limited mobility. The sunken living room and the many stairs going up to the bedrooms and full bathrooms are more falls waiting to happen.
It’s also obvious to my siblings and me that her companion is…well, in the interest of avoiding slander and/or bad language; suffice it to say that we’re not fans.
But today Mom made it clear to my brother and sister that she doesn’t care what we feel, worry about, want – she’s going to do what she’s going to do and if we don’t like it, well, so what?
So where does that leave me? Angry, to be sure, and hurt. But what about the bigger picture? It’s easier for my siblings – they don’t live here, so they don’t have to decide on a day-to-day basis if they’re going to check on Mom, go to the store for her, make sure she has her prescriptions, etc. And when Mom was at my house right after her surgery, she told me she didn’t know what she would do without me. I promised her she’d never have to find out.
Now she’s making a decision that maybe shuts me out. She doesn’t want my opinion, and I can’t just be silent if I think she’s unsafe. And to be honest, I don’t want to be manipulated. Do I jump every time she needs something that her good-for-nothing “boyfriend” won’t get for her because he doesn’t like the ethnicity of the customers at Kroger, or doesn’t want to use the gas to go to the pharmacy? Am I allowed to say something then or am I just supposed to swoop in, save the day, and then shut up again? Am I allowed to point out that if she falls and breaks something doing a normal thing like hanging up a piece of clothing, maybe that means it’s time to make some hard decisions before she hurts herself more? Apparently not.
That makes this relationship something different than I thought it was. That means that Mom wants something different than maybe I’m able to offer. That means that maybe I won’t be able to keep my promise. And I don’t know what to do with that.