Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Grownup.....

I hate being The Grownup. Every family has at least one.  I mean, I understand that families generally have lots of people over the age of twenty-one who take responsibility for themselves.  But each family seems to have a limited number of people who are willing to supervise the whole shebang:  Plan vacations, oversee the budget, make the doctor's appointments, select the nursing home, write the obituary. 

While Hubby is an awesome life partner, much of the above falls to me.  The main reason is that most of the people I feel responsible for are related to me, not him.  He took care of his mom when she was dying (before I met him), was Boy Scout leader for his little brother because his dad was too old, and so on.  He generously gave of his time and support when my Aunt Mary lived (and died) with us. 

But my Mom is a different thing altogether.  She was an awesome mom when I was a kid. She was THE Grownup. She planned camping vacations. She allowed a bajillion sleepovers, made creative Halloween costumes (my brother's Cub Scout den once ended up as a swarm of bees!), and happily hosted as many as 30 teens for Bible studies and sing-alongs.    She took care of her mother and father in their home until they died.  As she's aged, however, she's changed.  She has become more anxious, less welcoming, more judgemental.  It's very difficult for those who have married her children to feel accepted. 

The dementia accentuates all of these problems.  I watched my Mom and my Uncle struggle to find creative ways to keep my Grandfather safe as he declined - turning off the gas line to his stove, setting door alarms so the upstairs tenant could hear if he tried to wander off, and so on.  I am trying to imagine how extremely long the years between my grandparents' deaths must have seemed.  Seven years.  My mom has the same type of dementia.  We are about two years into it.  Eternity.  And more to come.

I joke that I know that I am part of the Sandwich Generation because my minivan has both a car seat and a walker in it.  It makes people laugh, but.....

Today I took away my Mom's checkbook and debit card.

I can't let her keep them any more.  Her budget is extremely tight, and although she might be able to eat lunch out with a friend or order a pizza once or twice a month, she can't do those things as often as she does, especially since she forgets to record them in her checkbook and thinks she has plenty of money left.  This month she decided that her Social Security must have come in, so she added that to her balance.  It did come.  I already recorded it.  We already spent it and can't afford to spend it twice.  She's $260 overdrawn, or will be when the last of her automatic withdrawals occurs.  I can't afford to cover it for her, so next month is going to be very interesting.

I explained why it was necessary.  And she agreed, sort of.  As she was handing me her card she was asking me what she should do about buying cigarettes (apparently she forgot she quit and started again). Taking her card will help keep her from burning the house down.  I can't wait until she calls the police to report her stuff missing - I can kind of see that coming.

The car keys will be next.  Lord help me.



  1. Oh my........I can relate first hand! Last Monday I had to sign paperwork for the nursing home (Mom had been there almost 5 years)for palliative care now. I am now the Mom and she is the child. I remember the days of the "checkbook issues" and what a hard time she gave me. Always wanting money at the nursing home...for what I don't know!! Is you Mom local? I have my Mom at Susquehanna on Riverside Drive and she gets great care.

    I remember when she first got there and they wanted to give her a shot....all hell broke loose and they had to call me at 11:30 PM to come over and calm her down. She talked about it for weeks that someone came into her house (uninvited) and tried giving her a shot. I could go on and on and if you need to talk about that phase of your know where to find me.

    She still keeps asking for a stove and where is her husband..."out running around?" Dad died last November!!

    1. She is local, thanks be to God. I pray we don't have to go the nursing home route but I'm thinking that unless her heart gets her first, it's inevitable.