I know so many people have it so much worse than we do.
And I know I tend towards being whiny and lazy. In this case, though, I'm not being self-deprecating, just honest.
Last week has
We've learned that my husband is not getting his annual bonus, which accounts for 30% of his salary. Had we known he wouldn't be getting a bonus, we wouldn't have put $10,000 into the 107-year old money pit we lovingly call home.
I just don't know how we are going to do Christmas this year.
I've been poor before - not for a long time, and certainly not with teenagers.
My oldest two understand our situation, but the little one? Not so much. He still believes in Santa.
I don't know how we're going to pay my oldest son's college tuition for the spring semester. He's doing parallel enrollment for his senior year, and is
(he should be!)
He's almost halfway to his Associate's degree - he's only a senior in high school.
I don't know how I'm going to fix the saggy roof, that leaks into the sunroom.
I don't know what I'm going to do about the $3,500 tax bill we're still paying off; one we got hit with for paying off a credit card and taking a break on the balance.
My very best friend's father is dying.
My father-in-law, whom I adore, just found out that the reason he's having issues with his memory is because he's had two strokes in the last week.
Plus, the anniversary of my Daddy's death is ten days before Christmas.
My birthday is this weekend, and my mother isn't speaking to my sister-in-law, so she's not invited to the birthday lunch which my mother has done for the past seven years.
To make matters worse, my brother - who I didn't get along with until my father died - and mother aren't speaking.
Now, I'm stuck between the mother I love, but don't agree with about ANYTHING and my brother, who I've desperately (embarrassingly), been begging to love me for years, have finally reconnected with, through tears and apologies.
They're both wrong and I don't care.
I was stuck between my parents for years after my brother moved out.
It was a
And I don't want to do it again. Things were so bad that I moved out two days after my eighteenth birthday. This all makes me miss my father even more.
I feel like my family is a snow globe that some asshole shook to hell before slamming against a wall.
I hate my mother's new husband. He's not a bad guy, just weird. Mostly, though, he's not my dad.
It seems kinda silly that I'm upset that I can't afford to be Mrs. Claus anyone this year, but this is something I love doing.
Every year, I pick a person, usually a single mom, and I "Mrs.Claus" her - sending her an anonymous package of gift cards and little goodies. I had two such wonderful women chosen this year.
We've loaned $10,000 to family that hasn't yet been paid back. I can't stop wondering, WHY THE FUCK CAN'T THEY PAY US BACK?
If they'd paid us back on time, at least, my 11-year old son, could believe,
Then, maybe, I could get my shit together, and stop crying.
I know how lucky I am to have three reasonably healthy children. For my husband to have a job. To have been lucky enough to have my father for thirty years. To have a husband I adore who loves me right back. I know all of this. And still, I can't stop crying.
Struggling. I'd forgotten forgot how much it
Anytime I pick up the phone, and I hear, “Your mom is fine, but...”- it doesn't matter what comes after the “but...,” I immediately worry.
My mother is clearly not fine. If she were, she'd have called me herself.
This time, I'd just woken up. It took me a few minutes to catch on that it wasn't that about her dog. A few days before, the dog she's had for fourteen years had a stroke.
Later that day, my mom fought with my brothers about cutting the grass.
I thought that my aunt was calling because the dog had passed away, and my mom had had a breakdown. The dog is fine, by the way - it was a vestibular stroke.
No, my aunt called me because my mom was in the ER with chest pain, and a funky EKG. And my mom was so upset that she couldn't talk to me.
She thought she had heartburn, or that she was getting an ulcer.
She was wrong.
Today my mother had heart surgery.
They went in with a catheter to see what was going on, and discovered that one of her arteries was 95 percent blocked. They fixed it right away.
If she had had a full-on heart attack instead of just an ischemic event, she'd be dead right now.
My mom has no family history of heart disease, eats reasonably healthy, doesn't smoke or drink, and exercises regularly.
It was all stress.
I visited her today in the hospital. The doctors kept talking to me like I was some sort of responsible adult, and I ended up coordinating what she'd need once she comes home.
Apparently when I'm backed in a corner and trapped like a rat, I can tamp down the silent, shell-shock screaming, and do what needs to be done.
Once we had a plan, my aunt took my daughters and I back to my mother's house. There I sat my brothers - one turns 20 this fall, the other is 24 - down on the couch, and explained what I'd been told:
Her cardiac problems were stress-related, and they needed to stop actively stressing her out and start helping her.
I told them that before she came home, the house needed to be cleaned. That's when my brother told me that it was all my fault for moving out.
(I moved out five years ago.)
When he said that, I lost it.
I knew what he was doing, because both of them have done it many times before. They'll argue, yell. blame and threaten physical violence as they reach greater heights of emotional abuse.
If my brothers stubbornly decided not to do something, hell will freeze over before it'll be done. They were gearing up for the fight of the century, too, because cleaning the house would be tantamount to admitting they were part of the problem.
But the house where they learned how to fight, terrorize, and bully - I was there, too. I learned right along with them.
When they tested how far they could push me, I threw it back in their faces. I've knocked each of them to the ground, and pulled a knife out of their hands more than once.
Hence sitting on the couch and not at the kitchen table.
When I say I lost it, I don't mean I yelled or cried or threatened or lashed out physically. I simply used the one thing they have no defense against. I didn't care about their fragile egos or their crappy childhoods or whatever excuses they've pulled out.
I gave them the plain truth.
I told them that if she had cut the grass like she had planned to, she'd have had a heart attack and died.
I told them they needed to grow up and start helping. I told them that all this bickering, immaturity, and being unhelpful was what landed her in the hospital.
I told them that they nearly killed their mother, and now they were going to clean the house.
I expected - backed in a corner like that - that they'd, at least, clean up after themselves.
I fully intended to do as much work as they did. Since I plainly laid out the importance of not having our mother come home from heart surgery to a germ-infested pit, I thought that maybe - just maybe - they'd pitch in.
Twenty minutes into it - the second I turned my back - they fled. I ended up cleaning the house by myself. It took two hours.
The grass hasn't been cut in five weeks.
And now I don't know what to do.
I feel like my brothers would rather kill my mother by stress, than do their own damn laundry.
I was born two months early.
I was born with hydrocephalus and a hole in my heart. At nine months old, I had a stroke, at the hospital in Norway.
They'd never seen any one as young as me ever have a stroke. The doctors left me for three days before they did anything. By then I was in and out of consciousness. They didn't think that I would survive the stroke.
The stroke changed my hydrocephalus so that the ventricles in my brain don't change size - they've stayed small. The small ventricles in my brain make it challenging for my doctors to figure out what is going on with me as the brain scans show nothing wrong.
Problem is, my brain scans look normal even when there's something wrong. In my life, I've had nine brain surgeries and the longest I've gone with the same shunt was twenty-one years.
Over the last few months, I've been having some pain near my heart, so I've had some different tests run on my heart. One test doesn't show my whole heart clearly enough, so the doctors aren't exactly sure what's going on with my heart. They think some of the pain is due to acid reflux.
At the same time the pain in the my heart began, I noticed a bit of pain in my shoulders as well as some pain in my abdomen. The doctors suspect I tore the rotator cuff in both of my shoulders.
The Medical Mystery Tour continues.
Over 5% of Americans are living with Alzheimer's Disease.
This is her story.
Alzheimer's is one crazy bitch, just like my mom.
Don’t worry; I’m not an evil daughter, I just decided to take the more, shall we say "optimistic" approach to my mom’s disease than some people would. Also, I have a very warped sense of humor, which has helped me get through quite a bit throughout my 40 years on this planet.
I’ve already been through my dad’s stroke in my 20’s, Mom’s stroke right after, followed by the death of my first husband when I was 27, my dad’s death when I was 28, my mom’s slow decline into Alzheimer’s Disease, and so much more.
Humor has been my savior and my go-to tool for as long as I can remember. So, please keep that in mind as you read what I’m sharing. Because believe me, my heart breaks into thousands of tiny shards of broken glass when I really allow myself to think of the shell of a person my mom has become.
I miss my mom terribly.
It pains me to talk to her now; our weekly phone calls have drifted into bi-weekly and crossed over into monthly conversations, simply and selfishly because it hurts me to hear her so confused. There is nothing more that I miss than being able to talk to her – really have a normal conversation with her – one that I know she was comprehending what I am saying to her.
Even when I was at war with her in my teen years, I’d take that over what I have with her now. I wish I could have those times back, but I can’t, so instead of being hurt and mortified by mom’s words and actions, I try to find humor instead. Although there are times that I hang up the phone and just allow myself to cry for her, for me, for us.
I have decided to blog various stories about mom that have made me chuckle over the years. It’s okay to laugh, I do.
I should have known Mom was drifting towards Alzheimer’s when we went out to eat one night. While the cashier was ringing up our check, mom grabbed a peppermint from the large bowl of candy on the counter. She must have really loved those peppermints because she grabbed another one and shoved it quickly into her mouth while the cashier handed me my change.
I unzipped my pocketbook and Mom unzipped hers. I put my wallet back in to my pocketbook; Mom dumped the whole bowl of candy into her pocketbook and walked out the door.
I was mortified! I asked the cashier “How much for candy?” She just looked at me, shocked, and said “Don’t worry about."
One day I was lounging around, soaking up the sun, half watching my children swim in our pool and half daydreaming. The phone rang, bringing me out of my semi-comatose state.
“Hello,” I mumbled into the mouthpiece.
“Ma’am,” a Southern gentleman drawled, “is your mom named OCB?”
“Yes, who’s this?” I asked, my suspicion aroused. Who the hell was this guy asking about my mom? How did he get my unlisted number?
**Side note: even in the depths of her Alzheimer’s, she's never forgotten my home phone number.**
“I’m Clyde, from the Pottery Mart? Over here on Airline Lane? You know it?” he asked.
I could see the big red building clearly forming within my brain. It was located in the town where my mom lived, about fifteen minutes away. They had a large statue of a rearing horse on top of their sign and I often wondered how they had gotten it up there. “Yes, I know it. What’s going on? Is my mom alright?” My suspicion had now turned to concern
“I reckon ma’am. We don’t want to call the police. . ."
Police! What the hell is this guy talking about?
". . .but it seems your mom has gotten into someone’s car, and she won’t get out. The owner of the car has been real nice and all, but your mom insists it’s her car, but it clearly ain’t; her keys just won’t fit into the ignition. She told us to call you. Can you come down? She seems pretty scared and, well, pretty mad.”
I was dressed and out the door with the kids in record time. On the drive over, never once did it occur to me that my mom had Alzheimer’s. I figured she was merely having an 'off day' which happened from time to time since her stroke several years prior.
I arrived to find my mom sitting in a white vehicle (hers was red), with a gentleman standing alongside and another gentleman sitting on the ground looking a wee bit pissed. I thanked both men profusely, apologized countless times, and sent several thankful prayers up to God that they didn’t call the police or the EMT’s. I was even thankful that we lived in the South at the time and not NY. I managed to talk my mom out of the man’s car (I don’t recall what I told her), and I drove her home. My friend drove her car, and that was the last time my mom ever drove her car, or any other vehicle, at least that I know of, anyway.
This event led me to take her to the doctor for a full work up and her first official diagnosis of Stage One Alzheimer Disease.
Now that I've brought you full circle, this fun phone call I had with mom the other day prompted me to write this novella in the first place:
After going round and round with Mom about my weather on the east coast versus her weather in the central United States and having that same conversation several times, she asked how things were with my family. She always remembers my boys’ names, but has trouble remembering Peanut’s name because she came along further into Mom’s illness; we talked about the kids for a few minutes, then I shared with her that I bought myself a car.
Out of the blue Mom remarks, “A car? It must be nice to have a car to drive wherever you want. I wouldn’t know since you took mine away. You know you did. I remember. It was red and I loved it and I shopped in it and I went to the VFW in it. I danced at the VFW on Saturday night. You took it away. Why did you take my car? I went to the craft store in it. I used to go. . ."
I could sense she was building up steam so I cut her off at the pass and said, “As a matter of fact, I do remember that car, Mom. I gave it to my brother. Aren’t you going to see him at lunch today? You should ask him what he did with it!” I snickered into the phone. I could see my brother now, sitting across the table from my mom and getting blindsided by this conversation. It would be a classic! He gave that car to his son almost ten years ago; who knows how long it’s been out of the family now.
“Really?” Mom replied, “He’s coming up here for lunch. I’m going to ask him about my car!”
My ex-husband's wife had a stroke yesterday. She's a year younger than I am. Mid-thirties is too young for a stroke.
I'm angry for her. I know what is happening to her right now. She's in the hospital, she's scared. Scared isn't the word - she's terrified.
I know what he's doing. He's sauntering around acting like things aren't a big deal. He's showing up and being caustic and sarcastic. He's making comments about how much it's going to cost him and how much of a fuss she's causing. He's acting like he doesn't mean it, but she's hurting because she's JUST HAD A STROKE AND HE'S MAKING JOKES ABOUT IT!
He took a stranger up to her room today. She was crying because she didn't know him and it scared her. He didn't ask the guy to leave, he just let him hang around. Then he went to smoke with the guy for forty-five minutes.
Then while I'm having a nice rant about this, my mother told me that I shouldn't tell my boyfriend things that would cause him to dislike my ex-husband.
She turned around and said, "I remember that time you cried all weekend because he took off and left you to go visit his old friends in his hometown right after y'all got married and wouldn't wait for you to get off work."
I really wanted to say, "Right, and then there was the time I was in the hospital because an ovarian cyst had ruptured, and he wouldn't come see me because he said I WAS FAKING MY OVARY EXPLODING!
Then there were the times he forced me to have sex with him because I lived in 'his house.' Oh, and the time I said I was depressed and felt like dying, and he said I should go ahead and get that over with because he had things to do."
All I really said was, "You know, he has to know what happened to me or he's never going to understand why I'm COMPLETELY PSYCHO some times."
Now I'm hanging out, not telling my boyfriend any of these things because apparently, I can't use my mouth to tell him things - I get a mental block with words because I'll cry.
I'm so ashamed of myself for putting up with it, too. Plus, how do you tell the person you love that the person they accidentally introduced you to nearly fifteen years ago did all these things to you? Yep, my boyfriend introduced me to my ex-husband.
And there's the part where someone I know just had a stroke, and I'm feeling sorry for myself. Oh, I'm feeling bad for her too; I have enough guilt and pity for the both of us!
I'm just going to lay here for a while and determine what feeling to feel next.
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