…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.