Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Getting Even

The question is, who needs care? What kind of care? Who decides what care to give?

Mark, the caregiver from Options for Elders, was supposed to come on Wednesday last week. Through a series of crossed wires – and the absence of an answering machine on my parents’ telephone – we didn’t get the message that he had a Wednesday conflict and would not be here until Friday. That set a sour tone for my mother. On Friday Mark arrived exactly on time – and right on the heels of Glenn, who mows the lawns. It’s a good thing Glenn works unsupervised!

Afterward Mother commented, “I agreed to this because I thought he was going to help me. Apparently he thinks he is supposed to help your father. Seems to me your father can get along just fine. He can get outside, sit on the lanai, look at the yard. He doesn’t need someone to take him out. I need help with things like heavy cleaning. I asked him to clean the counters in the kitchen. He wiped them down, but there are stained spots that need to be scrubbed and the stains are still there.” But he also scrubbed down the woodwork and diagnosed the problem with the overhead kitchen light.

Meanwhile, Daddy still needs to feel useful, even if he really is creating more work for someone else in the process. He is entitled to some quality of life. If I think about it, I can appreciate the thought process going on. He’s spent most of the last 70 years – probably most of the last 94 year – considering only his pleasures, not the consequences of his decisions. While he’s been enjoying life, she has been hurting. Are we playing “get evensies”?

We are seeing obvious signs that Mother is slipping, too. There was the charge on her credit card – the one for which she remembered writing the order, but not putting it in the mail. At dinner last night she asked about her “meat pounder” – one of those hammer-looking devices used to tenderize meat. Said she looked everywhere for it, but it was not to be found. I found it right where it was supposed to be. Yes, it was buried under a spatula, but still in the box. Took the box out to show her. She was chagrinned. He quietly said, “Thank you.”

What about me? I am getting restless. I think I need to find a friend or two, someone to have coffee or lunch with occasionally, someone who is interested in craft fairs or special exhibitions or just exploring, or someone who would enjoy an occasion afternoon movie. Now what?

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