Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Has it been a month already?

The last month has been a jumbled mess of trotting after my mother's bipolar needs in the wake of her widowed status. I haven't had time to miss my dad, much less, mourn him. There was one moment, at the supermarket, when I thought I saw him out of the corner of my eye, pushing a cart in the organic produce section. And then a few days later, I dreamed he was laying in bed, waiting to die, but he looked better than his final hours. Somehow I felt very conscious in my dream, knowing I was dreaming, and that he wasn't really there. He didn't have anything to say to me, nor I to him. And then the dream was gone.

When I go to my mom's house, I don't feel Dad's presence lingering. Mom says she still feels him, like he's in the other room, or he's coming down the hall to see her, but he never arrives. The first few days she didn't know how to stop worrying that he'd fall out of bed. Then she didn't know what to cook for herself. I told her that she probably forgot what she really likes to eat, that now was the time to get to know herself all over again.

After a week, Mom had people out to the house moving the huge collection of junk at the side of the house that Dad had collected over the last 20 years. We know it's a 20-year-old collection because that's the last time, according to Mom, that side of the house was painted. It's a different color than the rest of the house. Three truck-loads. Some very nice men came to haul it all away. Then Mom had the last of Dad's caregivers stay for another week or so, and Anna brought her sons over to do a little yard work. Actually, a lot of yard work, and the front yard looks really nice again. The old fence is gone in the front yard. I designed that fence when I was in high school, drew up the plans in my mechanical drawing class and Dad built it. It hadn't been maintained so it slowly rotted and fell apart. Damn! That fence was 32 years old! Damn!

Next Mom started taking things out of the closets. All evidence of Dad's infirmity is gone. No pills, no hospital paraphernalia, no paperwork, no pamphlets from Hospice...like it never happened. And this last week, his clothes have been removed from the closets and drawers and are ready for Goodwill. Quinn kept my dad's socks, of all things! Plus, since he's mad for coats, Quinn's got Dad's raincoat. A really nice one too. Plus a wool sports coat that will need a little altering to fit properly, but it's nice. Rhyan got Dad's red plaid flannel shirt jacket. He wears it everyday when he takes Chloe for a walk. He tried to use his charms on my mother to make off with Dad's leather recliner, but Mom's not ready to let that one go just yet. He thinks it'll look nice in his bedroom.

So, after some really vigorous work and a lot of people buzzing about the house, Mom's decided to let everyone go. I had to spend nights with her for a week, but then I eased out of that because my kids were really missing me...or that's what I told her. The first night alone was rough, but she's fine now. I started taking her to get a regular weekly massage with Joanne at Perfect Balance Day Spa. Mom never got a regular massage before, but she's now seeing the benefit in it. I get a treatment at the same time, so it's not a complete waste of time for me. My nails are looking pretty good these days!

Mom's grateful for all the time I spend with her, but I have to say, I'm not getting much benefit from it. Her house is looking pretty damn nice, and mine is absolute bedlam. All her bills are paid and her life is in order, and I can't seem to get any of my school work done, I'm not spending enough time with Rhyan on his school work, and I am way behind on my paperwork for my business. I have two clients who's work I am so grateful to have because when I tell her I have to get to work, she refrains from calling me more than once a day. I still see her three times a week, and we talk at least once a day. And I have to keep reminding myself that we are NOT BFFs.

In 10 days, the traditional Greek mourning period of 40 days will be up. I'm thinking that's when Mom is going to start venturing out to meet new people at the senior center. If I can get her to be brave enough to use the local public transportation, she'll be able to get herself to where she wants to go. But then I should probably start expecting surprise inspections.

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