Last Friday found me moping along, feeling physically well, but frustrated over my lack of influence over the same people/places/things various 12 step programs tell us we’re powerless over. I was mad enough at someone I work with to start dragging out the black candles and myrrh, and just couldn’t let go of the anger, as silly as I knew this obsessing to be. To improve my mindset, my plan was to bury myself in the whirl of social activities planned for the weekend. Then I noticed a voice mail that had just come in on my iPhone. The message was semi-coherent and difficult to understand. I knew it was my mother, and she sounded frightened and weak. She has resisted medical care for years, and also refused moving closer to either of her two daughters, of which I am the elder. My nearly 81 year old mother lives 350 miles away from me, in San Jose. She has cherished her independence, even while she has lost the ability to care for herself and her home. Finally, she was asking for help.
It’s interesting how quickly one can drop all the ‘urgent’ plans one makes when there is a real emergency. Social obligations? POOF, gone! Work-related deadlines of doom? I’d already delegated them mentally before I finished listening to my mother’s phone message. All previous plans dropped, we boarded the parrot, packed up the car and got ready for an early morning drive up to the Bay Area. Luckily, my mother had managed to contact paramedics and was taken to the emergency room. Her leg wound was so infected it caused her heart to go into atrial fibrillation; which could have led to a stroke or heart failure. At the very least, her leg was so bad they were considering amputation. We made it to Santa Clara by 11am, Saturday morning.
My mother is probably the stubbornest person I know. It made me sad, but relieved, to hear her admit that she needed help. After trying to get her to see a doctor for over a year, she was finally agreeing; there was hope!
My sister, Kathleen, rented a car and drove down from Oakland Saturday afternoon to visit and begin working on cleaning the house up. We were able to have a pleasant belated-birthday dinner for her, and it feels like we’re working on the same team. Tah dah– the Croker sisters: united again! With my mother agreeing to stay put in the hospital, Joan and I felt it safe to drive home on Sunday afternoon.
Mom was released to an acute nursing facility Wednesday afternoon. Thanks to the folks at Kaiser-Permanente Hospital in Santa Clara, she left with a normal heart rate AND her leg, which is healing. After a month or so, we hope to move her back home, which will probably involve engaging a home health care worker. Meanwhile, Kathleen has been dealing with plumbers and repair people and applying much elbow grease towards getting Mom’s house livable again. We’ll figure out the rest as we go. The plan is now to spring my mother from the nursing home for Thanksgiving and have the first family Thanksgiving in years at my sister’s.
So, besides the obvious, what am I grateful for this Friday? I’m grateful that life sometimes comes along and kicks some much-needed clarity into one’s obsessive little head. The process of caring for my mom won’t be easy for my sister or me, but it’s worth the energy expended. I’ve saved the black candles for a future, less trivial cause.