Monday, March 31, 2008

Frustration, and the Family Legacy

Well, Mom's door has now been repaired. It's a new and improved door, and meets the latest hurricane-resistant standards. Of course, that leaves the other two wooden doors from 1960 and a couple of glass doors in the back that have no additional reinforcement against either home invaders or hurricanes. So it goes, as a friend likes to say.

My sister and her husband were down over the weekend for a non-burglary related event. The subject of moving came up briefly, only to be shot down in a blaze of verbal gunfire. What it comes down to is this: Mom refuses to move. She has several reasons, depending on the occasion, a favorite being that "it's unsafe everywhere!" "Yes, but it's more unsafe where you live now!" is not an adequate response, despite the fact that it's patently true.

But the real reasons, I believe, that Mom refuses to move are fear of change and sheer God damned meanness. I know that I'm a (far to) casual curser, and an atheist to boot. But the cursing two sentences back means precisely what it says this time. Meanness is the family legacy, both on Mom's side of the family and on Dad's side. (And on Mom's side it comes from the families of both of her parents, as well.) Family lore includes some truly heart-wrenching stories of cruelty, the worst of it verbal in nature.

(As an aside, that dab of Latin at the top is what I've adopted as the family motto. It's a rough translation of something Mom said while telling of yet another incredible story about some relatives. After recounting this bizarre tale (Reader, you know the one!), she mentioned that she couldn't understand such insanity. I said, "Mom, this doesn't sound that out of character for anyone in the family." She replied with the now classic, "We'd never do that! We're not crazy, we're just mean!" My brother-in-law and I collapsed in laughter.)

But Mom is afraid of the change, and she's too mean to give anyone the chance to tell her she was wrong to hold out so long.

The frustration isn't just that she persists in living in a dangerous neighborhood - it's that she's practically refusing to live. Essentially, she's waiting to die. She doesn't leave the house except when she has to do some shopping or go to the doctor, and she doesn't do more in the house besides watch TV and play hand-held video games. There's no reason for this! Yes, she's had some health issues, but she has recovered from those. She's agile and strong for her age. Financially she's in the best shape of her life. And while she's not as mentally sharp as she used to be, she's far from senile.

But yet she refuses to get off her ass and do anything. The best for her would be to leave Orlando (which she hasn't liked in 20 years because it's too big) and move to Columbus, GA. Columbus is where my sister lives with her husband. My niece and her family (husband and two small children) also live there. But she won't move.

This is just a waste of life. Kim's grandmother, who's roughly two years older than Mom, had a stroke about two years ago. She went from being a rather energetic and involved person to being a victim of paralysis and dementia. If given the choice, I'm sure she'd be happy to switch places with Mom. I'm pretty sure that Amba would love it if Jacques had my mother's level of lucidity and mobility. Another friend is dealing with a parent falling into the fog of Alzheimer's Disease - that person doesn't have a choice about what's happening to her. And although Pastor Jeff's mother sounds lucid enough, I'm sure she would appreciate joints that weren't inflamed.

No, what bothers me most about Mom's current situation isn't even so much that she's insisting on living in a dangerous situation, but that she's refusing to live, period. That kind of waste is criminal.


[Note: Thanks to everyone for the concern you've expressed. I do appreciate it. And to Jeff and another friend, I hope everything works out as well as possible with your parents. Finally I need to give credit where credit is due: Kim actually provided the translation for the motto at the top.]

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