December 15th, 2002



The phone rings. It's 5:21 in the morning. The answering machine clicks on (it's right beside my bed). "Mumble mumble" Hang up. The phone rings. It's still 5:21 in the morning. The answering machine picks right up. "I need Margaret" I hear my mother's voice say. I start to stumble out of bed to find the phone (which is out in the living room). The phone rings a third time. It's 5:22. I grab it. "How soon can you be down here? I fell and I have to go to the bathroom." Responding to the first part (see we were planning on going down for lunch today) "Mom, it's 5 a.m., what's wrong?" Click. She hung up on me before I can process the second part.

I think for a minute, "should I be caling 911?". and call her back. After half a dozen rings, she answers "What?".

ME: "Are you okay? Do you need help getting up? I couldn't tell whether you passed out or hung up on me" (even though I knew good and well she'd hung up on me because I didn't do what she thought I *should*.

MOM: "No, I fell around midnight, but I have to go to the bathroom and I don't think I'm strong enough to get up on my own."

ME:. "Mom, holler for Kelli, that's what they're there for.". Silence. "Mom, do you want me to call Kelli to wake her up and help you.".
MOM: "No, she got to bed late last night, and I don't want to wake the kids up.".

ME: "Mom, Kelli can wake up, help you and be back asleep in bed before we have the car warmed up....that's why, right now you need to be somewhere where there's someone around, so if you need help.......I'm happy to call Kelli and wake her up to help you...besides, I'm sure she went to bed before we did." Then have to explain why we (as adults) might stay up late.

MOM: "I have her phone here, there's some button I'm supposed to push, but I can't tell which one it is. So, how soon can you be down?".

I flat out tell her that if she's not willing to wake up people in the house she lives in, I'm not going to haul ass to get down there.....and besides, it would be over an hour before we were there--we'll be down later in the morning.

And get treated to the Big-Sigh-Long-Suffering treatment. My mother is 84. Right now, she's acting like a 4 year old. She spend several hours at the hospital on Thursday, and has early stages of pneumonia. The doctor gave her an antibiotic, some vicodin and sent her home, with instructions that it doesn't appear she's been following (i.e. take the vicodin and drink lots and lots and lots of fluid). She's pouting because she's not getting her way with everything.

I've tried to be clear with her that, for the time being at least, my concern for her HEALTH is stronger than my concern for her HAPPINESS. It's so hard, because she's been "dying" for as long as I can remember, and that card gets trotted out whenever she's not happy that she's getting her own way. It doesn't carry nearly as much weight with me as it used too.

Situations like this are exactly why they can't live on their own right now. Mom complains that she wants oatmeal for breakfast and Kelli doesn't have any (and probably wouldn't know how to cook it if she did). I offer to bring some down, so she could cook it when she wants it. "No. ". "So you'd rather complain about it.".

Truth be told, she's probably not strong enough to stand and cook it, yet she says, every other day, that "I'm going home" (to Walla Walla, to live by herself--and take care of my failing father).

And then I get frustrated, because I feel guilty and feel manipulated into feeling guilty because I'm not "helping as much as I could" or "not seeing things from her perspective". And now, I'm wide awake at 6:23 in the morning, tired because we stayed up until 2, just enjoying ourselves on a Saturday night.

Argh. I'm frustrated beyond belief. But I think I'm going to try to go back to bed.

It's like dealing with a 4 year old. I know that if I dropped everything and went down there right now, it would just start a precedent of getting these phone calls whenever she's unhappy, or needs help and doesn't want to ask someone else for it. (for that matter, my sister lives in Puyallup, 10 minutes away...why didn't she call her instead of me, if she had to pee?).

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