In November I promised myself I would get a jump on the holiday season this year. When I was wrapping the apple tree trunks against rabbit damage and was digging around in our junk to find my tree wrap, I found the fake Christmas tree in the barn. I placed it on the gazebo and was thrilled when I plugged it in and the lights actually worked, though it was crooked and needed some reinforcement on its perch on top of one of the white tables. I left it plugged in as I worked around the yard that day, but it was before Thanksgiving and too early to have a lit Christmas tree, so I never got around to hooking up the extension cords. A few days later Carl needed a cord for some reason or another and now my leaning, unlit tree sits forlornly listing back and forth in the wind. Yeah, that's festive.
Below is a picture of what the gazebo looked like a few years back. If I find another extension cord (and it snows) it might happen again.
Speaking of Mom, she had another bad night on Wednesday, her stomach is still hurting and she wasn't able to sleep very well. I was all dressed for my exercise class at church when I called her this morning. She didn't answer the phone until the sixth ring and I was getting nervous.
"Hello? Did I ever tell you that you have a knack for catching me when I'm making my bed or in the bathroom almost every time you call me?" Mom asked.
She makes her bed without fail every day, the day I go there and that bed isn't made, then I know the end is near.
"I'm sorry, I guess it's just one of my many talents, Mom. How are you feeling today?"
"Do I have to answer that? I think you know, I don't feel good. Are you going to exercise class this morning?"
(Apparently the blood pressure pill is not the cause of her stomach problem since she didn't take it on Wednesday night.)
"Yes, that's the plan," I said as I found my wallet and car keys.
"I'm going to wash clothes this morning," she said. "My stomach hurts, but I've got to have clean clothes."
Oh, no. Not laundry, not today....."Can you let it wait until I get home from exercise class so I can help you?" But then I remembered my friend Nancy was going to give me a long overdue haircut this morning too, and I knew I wouldn't be able to hold her back from her Laundry Quest if I was gone more than an hour.
"No, I don't need any help. Why would I need help with laundry? I can do it myself, I'm capable," she protested.
"I know you're capable, but you don't feel good, so let me help you, please," I begged.
"Well, all right, I'll wait until you get home from town, if that's what you want," she said. But I could tell that was a lie.
Again, let's back up the truck here; Mom (and ok, yes, Yours Truly----me) use wringer washers for our laundry. Mom has a Speed Queen that is half her age and I have a Maytag that's five years older than I am, so indeed, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. We're both Stubborn Like That, we never moved into the modern era of washers and dryers and all them there fancy gizmos the rest of the planet uses. No sirree, we don't get our undies in a bundle unless they get wrapped around the wringer. ( And we do our best to keep our, ahem, 'bosoms' out of aforementioned wringers, too. I actually never could figure out how a woman could get that part of her anatomy in a wringer; fingers yes, but bosoms? No. I like my wringer washer, but I don't get THAT close to it.)
Anyhow, Mom was feisty, she did not need any help, why am I trying to insinuate she isn't capable after all of these years, I have a lot of work of my own to do, I don't need to do hers.
I said, "Remember the other day you said you were sorry you were giving me a hard time? And you promised not to anymore? You're giving me a hard time right now. Let me help you so I don't have to worry, ok? I'd much rather help you with your work than be driven to distraction wondering if you took a header going down the basement stairs. I can't go to exercise class and wonder if you're safe while I'm gone. It's fine, I'll do your laundry for my exercise today we'll get something accomplished together."
For the last few years I'd volunteered to take her laundry home with me and add it to my washing; the boys have grown up and gone, so Mom's few articles of clothing and towels wouldn't be a burden, but she's been extremely stubborn, nope, ain't gonna happen. To avoid a fight, I gave up, but when I knew she was washing clothes I did my best to be there to at least haul everything up the steps and out to the washlines in the summer, anyway. However, she is sneaky and wouldn't tell me until I saw the first load on the line from here. And then I'd have a Battle Royale with her when I arrived to 'help'. I know it's her independent spirit and sense of autonomy at stake, where many elderly (and not-so-elderly) people become helpless, she is determined not to. I admire that, I really do, but there are limits to what a 95 year old woman should be doing on her own.
The washing machine is in the basement. The electrical plug for power is on the ceiling. Yes, the very high ceiling, which means barely 5' tall Mom flips a five gallon pail upside down, climbs up on top of it and still has to strain to reach the outlet. That situation alone gives me nightmares, the farm house is almost 100 years old, everything needs updating, and we never got around to doing it. Shame on us, I know. And after she washes all the clothes, she has to haul the wet laundry baskets up a flight of stairs and outside to the washline, except in the winter, when she hangs them in the basement to dry. (This is also my weekly routine, too, except I have lower outlets and I'm nine inches taller than she is.)
I got out of my exercise attire, tossed on my jeans and walked up to Mom's who indeed wasn't going to wait for me until the afternoon; she was rounding up her laundry and heading down the stairs when I caught her red-handed.
"OH! You scared the living daylights out of me!"
"Glad to see you waited until this afternoon," I said, rolling my eyes at her.
"Well, I was only going to sort out the clothes," she said angrily.
"Uh-huh. I bet that's all you were going to do."
Mom calmed down and we set to work together, she had to give me a refresher course on her Speed Queen's controls, and in just over an hour we were done with one month's worth of washing. The power cord on her washer needs replacing, so a perfect way to put a stop to this nonsense would be to remove the cord 'until we can get it fixed'. I know that's rather mean of me, but desperate times call for desperate measures. She'll be very hurt, but better mentally pained than physically injured.
I got her back upstairs and she promised me she was going to eat some dinner when I left for my haircut. I guess that was wishful thinking on my part, because when Carl stopped in to visit with her at 3:30, she hadn't eaten anything since breakfast because of her stomach pain. This can't go on. I sure hope the doctor can give us some help tomorrow, but even he seems stumped.
Today I had a wonderful visit with our friends, Nancy and Bill, and a fantastic new haircut, too. I have so much gratitude for my dear friends near and far who put up with me whining in person and in blogland about my misadventures with caretaking. I know I'm a broken record and I apologize. It has been a relief to get it out, though, and many of my friends have been or are currently in, the same situation. I know I'm not alone in this struggle, many have traveled the same road.
As I learned in Al-Anon years ago, it helps to envision wrapping our suffering loved ones in a warm blanket and handing them to our Higher Power, because at the end of the day, what more can we do?
I have to let go and let God.And trust in His will.