Cubby Holes

I’m sitting here, staring at the cluttered computer screen, as a project awaits completion. I feel like I’m letting down the people to whom I owe this project. I’ve been struggling with it. Normally, it’s not that hard to complete, but for some reason, this month has had its challenges. Personal issues have gotten in the way. I’m not someone who can compartmentalize easily. I wish I was. I’d like to just stick whatever’s bothering me into a cubby hole and let it rot there. Unfortunately, any cubby holes that I have in my brain are more hole than cubby. If I do manage to put a problem in a compartment, it falls right through the hole in the bottom, tripping me whenever I “take a stroll down memory lane.” In other words, I can’t keep things compartmentalized. They stay in my mind, no matter what I’m doing.

Right now, the thing that is stuck there is my mother. I love my mom, but I also live almost 700 miles away from her. I don’t see her much, even though we talk on the phone when she’s feeling up to it. Even if I did make the trip back, there’s simply no place for me to stay at her small house. If she were healthy, I’d either be able to stay on an air mattress in the living room or in her bed with her since my daddy has passed. However, healthy she is not. She has a hospital bed set up in the living room. A good bit of her living room furniture is now in her bedroom on the bed. There is, quite frankly, no room for me at her house.

In some metaphoric way, there’s no room for me in her life anymore, and that about kills me.  She loves me and I love her, but she is no longer concerned about me. Her life revolves around the nurses and care workers from Hospice that come in. I listen patiently. But only on a good day, do I get to share with her what is happening in my life. Am I selfish to want this again? Maybe. Am I realistic enough to know that, for the most part, those days of happy conversations are gone? Yes. Mentally, she is all there, but her world is small now, and I’m on the periphery. Perhaps I’ve started grieving already.

I’ve caught grief from people who see her once and think that they have a handle on the situation. Because I’m not there, I guess in their eyes that makes me not a good daughter, doesn’t it? They don’t understand that I’m well aware of what is happening with her. I’m in frequent contact with my brother, who is her main caregiver. While I get conflicting reports, depending on whether I’m talking to him or my mother, I know and care deeply about her condition and about her. She was the best mother a girl could have. We have always been close.

Perhaps that why this hurts so much. She had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. I found out only recently that this was THE diagnosis. I had heard it bandied around for a while, but my brother confirmed it this week. It makes sense. This diagnosis answers a lot of questions, but it also presents a new dilemma for me. How do I keep it in its place without obsessing?

If you ask my mother, she doesn’t believe it. According to her, she will walk again, drive again and resume her normal life after she gets over this little hiccup in her life. Parkinson’s took my wonderful father-in-law. I’ve seen what it can do. I don’t have her optimism, as misguided as it may be, but I can’t take away her vision of her future either. I’m not that cruel to say, “Sorry, Mum, it’s not going to happen,” when maybe it’s that very thought of a normal future that makes her okay with how she is living. So I have to wonder why I’m obsessing over things I can’t change. I do know that I’m not good at hurting; I bleed all over my cubby holes.

I guess it’s time to clean up the mess and get back to work on today’s project. I can at least do something about what’s in front of me, even when I’m feeling so helpless about my mother. I’m having to relearn some lessons from the past about how to deal with this. It’s taken me a while to get there, but thank God for God and keeping my problems where they belong. I’m better for now, at least until the next refresher course.

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