“Why can’t you give me the respect that I’m entitled to?” (from Mommie Dearest)
“Yeah, I’m here at mom’s. She fell and has been laying here for one or two days.”
It’s the call no one wants to receive—to hear your 78-year-old disabled mother injured herself, couldn’t get up, couldn’t call for help and was being rushed to the emergency room. The call from my brother, who with the maintenance man’s help, was able to gain entry to our mother’s apartment was a jolt. She was in pretty bad shape.
How could this be happening? Usually you only hear about elderly people falling and being left for a sustained amount of time on the news.
You know you have mommy issues when you wish for a Mother’s Day card that reflects your dysfunctional upbringing rather than the typical mushiness. When I was growing up I was scared of my mother’s explosive temper and it seemed there was nothing I could do to please her.
Most of my life I’ve volleyed between a deep hatred and nonchalance for my mother. Her attempts to ‘make things right’ in my adulthood were annoying and what really got under my skin was the way she rewrote history as if we lived like Leave It To Beaver vs. an episode straight out of the Jerry Springer Show.
My mother could be mean as a snake but to outsiders she came across as the sweetest person you’d ever want to meet. It’s unfortunate we’ve been unable to become close because as I’ve come to realize over the past few days I really don’t know her full story probably because of that nonchalant thing.
When I was little and knew my mother resented me, watching her dote on my baby brother was tough. Even so, after I began having children, and she became disabled, whenever she needed anything I was there. I remember one occasion when she was hospitalized for internal bleeding and at the end of visitor’s hours was that awkward moment where I felt I should give her a hug, kiss, and say “I love you” but it just felt so icky.
So when my brother called to tell me the condition he found our mother in, all I could think of was if God would give me one more chance, I would bring her home with me and make it work somehow. I didn’t want her life to end with her thinking things were still uncopasetic.
It used to drive me up the wall the number of times my mother wouldn’t let me take her out, even if it was just for a drive in the country. Instead she lived alone with very few visitors with the exception of me and my three boys as my brother resided out of state at the time.
I know she was self-conscious of her disability related deformity but I would get so ticked off at the number of “nos” I received for whatever excuse she could pull out of a hat. She insisted on remaining in solitude yet she’d get upset because life was continuing on outside of her apartment.
For many years I was ashamed of my dysfunctional background, ashamed of my mother and ashamed because I couldn’t feel for her what I felt I should feel, if that makes sense. But my mother has come through some stuff and though it wasn’t right, were it not for some of the things I endured early on I might not have become the person I am today.
My mother is a survivor! She overcame addiction, she’s lived with Dystonia, a painful neurological movement disorder, for over 25 years. She’s managed to live independently with her disability and for years she’s done her penance in solitude. Does this one small bit of enlightenment mean that our relationship will become miraculously mended? I doubt it, but who knows.
Once mom comes through this episode I’m sure she’s gonna say or do something to irk me, I’ll be angry and then as per usual, I’ll get over it. Afterall our family wouldn’t be dysfunctional if we didn’t go through these bouts but I hope I can always remember the reason I am a survivor today is because of my mom.
Note: My mom was severely dehydrated and diagnosed with pneumonia. She is still recovering in the hospital and will be released to a skilled nursing facility for further recuperation and therapy. As I need to take care of business for my mom, I will post when possible.
Have a nice weekend!