Keep Your Arms and Legs Inside the Car at All Times…

…it’s going to be a wild ride.

We went over to visit Dad yesterday (while Mum was at a museum).  While we were there, we talked about some of the things Dad’s worried about; bills being paid, things getting done, that sort of thing.

Well, Dad called my husband this morning (while I was at yoga and Mum was at church) to tell him that she’d blown up at Dad when he told her what we’d talked about, declared that Mr. Chili is “trying to take over,” and wouldn’t speak to Dad for three hours.  I’ve never heard my father-in-law in such a panic (he’d called Mr. Chili’s cell phone before trying the house phone and I listened to the message he left).  I nearly burst into tears over the terror in my dying father-in-law’s voice as he begged us never to “speak of it again.”

I’m trying to take a gracious approach to this.  First of all, there was no attempted coup; we talked about consolidating some bills, seeing which bills could be put on auto-pay out of their account, and of getting Mum a more user-friendly cell phone (she truly does not know how to use her phone, and she forgets every time someone teaches her, which results in a) missed calls and b) frustration and panic on both ends of the line).  My father-in-law is (rightly) concerned about his wife’s ability to manage the day-to-day after he’s gone; he’s been doing a LOT of compensating for her memory gaps and lapses, and he’s genuinely worried that she’s going to forget to pay the taxes or the credit card bill.

I’m also aware that one of the symptoms of dementia is inappropriate responses to stimuli, so her over-the-top reaction to this isn’t a surprise, either.  I’m just angry that she’s treating her husband this way, though I don’t think she understands how much she’s upsetting him by her staunch refusal to let him do the things he wants to do for her before he dies (though, to be fair, Dad recognizes that he’s “made this bed” by doing all that compensating and gap-filling.  That recognition doesn’t minimize his panic at what’s likely to happen to his wife once he’s gone, though).

As of right now, we’ve had no contact with Mum (though I had a momentary flash of the thought that she’d come to the house today to have it out with us, that never happened).  We’ll honor Dad’s request to not bring it up, but I know – I KNOW – she’s going to say something caustic in the next little while.  I’m not sure how I’ll handle that, but I do know that I’ll likely not just let it slide.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Keep Your Arms and Legs Inside the Car at All Times…

  1. L B

    Good luck and many hugs. Keep in mind that Mom is terrified of the changes that are happening in thier lives and isn’t able to talk about them with anybody at all. Either she won’t or just can’t. It might be control issues and it might be dementia but either way, she’s lost and hurting. Do you believe that it’s well past time for hospice to be involved there? The folks may not like it, but hospice might help get Mom on track or at least help you deal with her. I’m sorry for all that is happening and I know that your heart is huge. If you are going to be on the shit list anyway, you might as well get the care and help that Dad and the family all need. Doing the next right thing is not always easy but it is part of being whole. Hang in there, sending hugs from here.

  2. Her reaction is absolutely situation normal from what I’ve seen over the years. Even if she was fully capable of taking care of everything on her own she’d be wary. As it is she probably knows full well that she’s going to be in the weeds good and deep when he passes and it’s terrifying. She knows that other people will have to help her and that there’s a better than decent chance she’ll lose her independence entirely by being moved out of the house or having an aide come in or whatever. She’s stiff arming all those possibilities at every turn. She’s living in a constant state of many-layered fears. Biting back at her will make you feel good in the short term but it won’t make getting your (likely necessary) way in the long term easier. Without knowing her personally I suspect she isn’t capable of acting any differently. She’s a cornered animal. Poking a cornered animal with a stick doesn’t help the poker or the pokee.

  3. Kagen Alexander

    Remember, Chili, you’ve done this before; you know how to do it. The players are different, but the ride is exactly the same.

    It was funny (well, not funny, but you know what I mean) that, just before I came to the computer this morning, I saw this ad during the news show I watch. As soon as I read this, I knew why. You should look this service up.

  4. Gerry

    These things are not easy, even with reasonable people.

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