To Control Or Not to Control ?

July 7, 2010

The aging of a parent is a remarkable chance to look at ourselves…deeply, honestly, authentically; take an inventory of who we are, and for god sakes who we want to be down the road.

Navigating this time in my mom’s life has had me promising my o kids that i will  be different; less stubborn, less critical, more open minded when I am considered ELDERLY.  And I have promised to listen when they tell me I am none of those things and in fact am exactly like my mother…wanting what I want, when I want it, regardless of who is effects.

I have developed a plan for the ELDERLY stage in my own life. I will invite all of my loved ones over for a nice dinner. We will chat and reminisce and talk of their futures. I will tell each one how much I love them and kiss them eternally as I say good-bye. As soon as they are out of sight, I hobble to my car that has been packed with just what I need and a few treasures I couldn’t leave behind. Then I drive until I find a place that suits me. I figure the middle of the country, maybe Kansas. Hey, it was good enough for Dorothy. Then I would open my dream pie shop: The Slice of Life. I would bake and chat and eat all of the pie I wanted. I would welcome what came and not fight the inevitable.

In other words I want to go out on my terms, hurting those I love as little as possible. I think this makes great sense. It doesn’t impact my children with their young families; doesn’t drain anyones resources, doesn’t ceaselessly fight the forces of nature; causes less difficult decisions to be made and in a way sets my children free.

Now comes the tricky part…my mother wants nearly the same thing. She wants to stay in her home; die in her home; drive until the police tell her she can’t and eat Udderly Chocolate Ice Cream 3 times a day for as long as she is able(she is a diabetic, but has thrown caution to the wind). The daughter in me has not tolerated letting go and not trying to save her, or insure she has a better quality of life. She looks at me time and time again and just says…’please, just let me be. This is what I want… to be in control of myself, for as long as I can and for however that turns out. Please! I am as safe here as any where, but here I am content.’

I resist, I plot, I plan, I get second opinions; I grocery shop for her bringing home healthy frozen yogurt (which she won’t eat) and  leaving the Udderly Chocolate in Safeway’s freezer. She is asking, but I am not listening. I am controlling. I am controlling cause I am not ready yet. I am not ready to be in the world with out her. SELFISH, fuck yes. But a lifetime of answering  to Krissy (she is the only person in the world who calls me that), and having her stand in the driveway waving until I am out of sight: bad Norwegian jokes and story after story of how much she has loved my father. Has she been a perfect mom? OMG No…but I know once she is gone, I will not be loved like that again, as imperfect as it has been.

So I am on the verge of baking a chocolate cream pie, my favorite…swinging by Safeway for the Udderly Chocolate that is her favorite and celebrating what we love together  and  throw caution/control  to the wind together.

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10 Responses to “To Control Or Not to Control ?”

  1. melody Says:

    Being strictly selfish her but …Please keep writing. I always hesitate to read your blogs..I approach them like I would a root canal…dreading the pain..the raw open pain I always feel..but knowing that in the end it will be good for me..something I need to hear..need to think about..need to roll around in my mind my heart and my soul. Please …please keep writing..and thank you ..so very very much.

  2. Gail Says:

    Do that. Bake the chocolate cream pie. Swing by Safeway for the Udderly Chocolate. Throw caution to the wind – for her. It doesn’t have to be easy for you. God knows, it won’t be. But this isn’t about you. It’s about her. It’s about loving her enough to let her go, her way.

    My best friend’s mother did something similar a few years ago. This woman had never leaned to drive. She was blind from Diabetes, and hadn’t had sweets in years. She’d nearly died from open heart surgery several years before. Basically, she was totally dependent on my friend and her husband. But she’d made the two of them promise her something. When she decided it was time, my friend’s husband was to go to the store and buy a particular type of cookie for her. And my best friend was to call her brother and sisters, and have them all come home. That’s exactly what they did. Everyone came. And they sat around the kitchen eating sweet treats and telling stories – loving each other – till she was too tired to continue. She said her goodbyes, and she went to bed. She was gone by morning.

    The thing is: Everyone who was there, has wonderful memories of their last day together – of the laughter and the love. They don’t regret a bit of it. That doesn’t mean they don’t miss her. But they don’t blame themselves, or her. I don’t know about you, but I can think of far worse ways to go. Just a thought.

  3. Cheryl Says:

    Such difficult decisions we have when the roles are reversed…it is so heart breaking to let them make their own choices. You know what is best for her, but do we really know what is the “best choice” for someone we love? Wish there were some magic that could cure all the aches of the body and soul…we need it in life for not only ourselves but our precious loved ones. Bake the chocolate creme pie and buy the udderly chocolate ice cream and celebrate your love.

  4. Kerstin Says:

    My dad just moved from independent living to assisted living. I want the rest of his life to be filled with grace and bravery – on his side and on my side. So far, so good.
    Now, about that pie…..squirt some of that whipped cream out a can (the kind we NEVER were allowed to have) on top of that pie. Live large.

  5. Julie Mihaly Says:

    When my brother & I learned last spring that our mother, (an 87-yr-old diabetic who’s since been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s), had a 50% chance of surviving a year without undergoing triple by-pass & heart valve replacement surgery, my brother decided immediately that she should have the operation. We’d known for the last several years that it would take something catastrophic to get our mom out of her Charlottesville, VA townhouse into the assisted living she should have been in long ago. But somewhere deep down I wondered if I wouldn’t prefer to stay in my own home with all of my things around me, eating whatever I wanted, and being blissfully oblivious until my ticker gave out. That’s not what we chose for my mom, and though I believe she’s relatively happy in the assisted living facility we moved her to up here in NY, and I know my brother would have pushed for the surgery so hard that I’d have had to give in anyway, and my mom and I have had some wonderful, unforgettable times together over this last year. But in my heart I wish we’d let her stay in the place she loved- with her jars of jam, overly buttered toast, antiques, photos and garden. It’s hard when you can paint the sweet selfish love of someone as selflessness, isn’t it?

  6. Sandy Says:

    What a good and loving choice. I applaud you for embrassing the chocolate. And surely when it’s time for your kids to let you drive off to Kansas, they will remember and will find it easier let embrase your journey.

  7. Hollye Dexter Says:

    Kristine,
    Sometimes letting go is the hardest part of loving. I agree with your decision to let your mom live her life out the way she wants, chocolate ice cream and all. She’s undoubtedly lived through so much at this point, she should be able to do whatever she damn well pleases. Hell- I already feel that way at 46!
    I can’t wait till I’m old enough to eat chocolate ice cream three times a day and not care about the calories!
    Kristine, maybe one day you’ll write an anthology about this, letting go of our mother’s hands…A lot of women need to read that.

    Love you.

  8. Carol Bernal Says:

    Bravo, baby. There will be lots of advice, now and when our time comes as well, with well-meaning freinds and bloggers, offering advice and ruthlessly uncompassionate answers.
    Together, you and Mother will arrive each day at your own path. Remember that what we worry about is ALWAYS about things that have not yet happened, many will NEVER happen. Save your energy for the joy you can find, photograph her hands in black and white, get some stories from her- (if possible on video), learn from her and enjoy this time.

  9. Lisa Kaser Says:

    I liked your idea of Kansas. That is definitely a good plan!

    Easy does it and let her be. I don’t think it is at all about the correct decisions.

    Wishing you well and maybe someday I’ll get your cream pie recipe!?


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