Friday, August 15, 2008

Friday Update, The Sequel

The good news is that she's not nearly as blind as we were expecting. The bad news is that, as I feared, we ran out of things to say about the kids and were forced to talk about other things on the way home. It'll take me another 6 or 8 hours to massage loose the hard, fibrous knot of filial frustration* lodged in my chest. I wonder if I can call in to work with the excuse that I spent the day with my mother and now I have to stay home and drink?

On the way home, my mother dismissed her cataract by saying, "I always say if it ain't broke, don't fix it." And I replied, "But it is broke. Just because you've managed to find some way to live with only seeing out of one eye doesn't mean that this is the best it can be. If you have an option to see out of both eyes but are only seeing out of's broke."

And then a little further down the road, the subject of a handyman came up. We both agree that an impartial handyman is the way to go. She has numerous small and not-so-small things that need to be repaired around the house but she won't let me fix them because she thinks I'll be judgmental. She's right; I would. So we've agreed to a handyman. However, she doesn't want the handyman to come to the house until she has the money for him to do the work. I want him to come out, assess the situation and give us an estimate for each problem. That way we can start picking away at them one at a time. But no...she doesn't see the sense in it, unless she can afford the work.

My position is this: molehills become mountains one grain at a time. It took her 10 years to create this mess and it's going to take time to fix it. If you can knock a few bucketfuls of dirt off the mountain...a Medicare card here, a new pair of glasses there...then your mountain is moving in the right direction. If a handyman can look at her stuff and tell her which could be quick fixes and which would be major projects, we could do the quick stuff.

But no. It ain't broke anymore. If you've figured out where to put the buckets under the leaking roof, the problem is no longer a problem and therefore it no longer needs fixing. When the roof collapses, says I between my clenched teeth, does it get elevated back up to "problem" status? Yes. At the point it qualifies as a problem again. So wouldn't it be wiser to handle it now?'s not a problem now.

Similarly, the cataract is not a problem now. It will be, when the other eye can't see either. At that point it will officially qualify as a problem.

So I didn't reach across the seat and throttle her. Instead I took her home, told her I'd call Medicare for her and take her in to have her glasses prescription filled. Then I came home and made some lunch without throwing the dishes around or kicking a cat or sticking a steak knife in my eye. Which would have been, by the way, a problem for me. For her? Not so much.

*When I looked up the spelling of "filial" I found an alternate usage that was extra appropriate in our case:
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Filial is an adjective used to describe sons and daughters. It may also mean:
Filial cannibalism - Where a parent eats its own offspring.

Give it some thought.


xup said...

Hey, that mule-headed, god-fearin', one-eyed shrunken little old broad spent umpteen hours in labour trying to squeeze you out of her cha-cha and then probably fed you and stuff for a few years on top of that. Did you mention that it would cost three times as much to fix something totally broken than to fix something on the verge of broken?

Angie said...

Thank god there is a name for what I want to do to my children....often. Filial. Hmmm, I'm gonna have to use that one.


Laura Belle said...

I know we're not speaking and all, but...
wanted to say thanks for the courage to blog about this. My aged mother thought an ice chest was a good replacement for a fridge that needed freon, so I can painfully relate to the tightrope you are walking. But on the other side of her death I can say I do not regret the times I intervened. I am sure giving voice to this helps others Ev.

Laura Belle

Anonymous said...

It sounds like you are doing everything right, by introducing her to community services and such. The most important thing to remember is that she needs that independence. I would stay away from giving her advice. That could make her resentful, after all, you are her kid. Encourage her to come to her own common sense decisions. Maybe get a third party involved, I bet she would listen better to Kwachie. There is no way that you can take care of her property and yours, the stress and worry will drive you into an early grave. Have you thought about combining? Move her to the compound? 3 and 4 generation families are quite common these days. As long as she has her own space. I'm living with my sons right now and it's working out really well. I never thought in a million years that I could live with them, but I take care of them and they take care of me. We all have our own space and we respect each other's privacy. It's working. Just think, some day you will be going through this very thing with your own kids. :)


Sharon said...

So I had to nod my head in sympathy when you started talking about how the cataract wasn't a problem until she couldn't see at all. Last week Miss A's mom "developed" a problem with her tooth.

She'd been complaining about it for a month and we'd told her to go to the dentist every time she complained, but she waited until after hours and then panicked calling the house a dozen times wanting us to fix it for her (right now). Sigh...

We're keeping you in our thoughts.

Cedar said...

My money is still on the old woman. I like her, she reminds me of someone. Hmmm stubborn, had her mind set on things a certain way, independent. Now who could that be?

Anonymous said...

Tell her to do what my old neighbor Bill did w/his leaky roof - remember? Just drill holes in the floor for the water to drain out. And maybe introduce them - they're neighbors, they're both toothless, they make very creative house-repair choices, etc. You might ask her first tho if she eats that hard-as-rock, Ezekiel bread. Robin

Kwach said...

Robin, you have no idea how many times your old neighbor has come up in our conversations over the past few weeks! Every time we come across some new evidence of her "creativity" in developing work-arounds for things we say, "just drill a hole in the floor."

Were your ears burning yesterday? Rob was here and we were looking at old pictures. After he left Ev said, "I never have to worry about senility. Between Rob and you and Robin, all of my stories are in safe keeping!"

Jazz said...

Denial they say, is not just a river in Egypt.

Good luck, and really, don't kick the cat...