Gentle Shackles

My second mother is 92 years old, that is a lot of years to live. For most of the past twenty-five years she and I have been estranged, or maybe a better description of our relationship is distant. I acknowledge she exists, at Christmas and on her Birthday I send a card, flowers and a $100 gift certificate to Nordstroms; she rarely ever remembers to thank me and I have long since stopped caring.

My second mother has spent the better part of the past forty years telling anyone who would listen what a miserable daughter I am. I have never defended myself nor attempted to correct her version of the truth, except with her. Ultimately I stopped trying to correct her and stopped looking for an apology.

I have covered all this before, I apologize if some of that seemed redundant.

As the day grows closer to her move to Assisted Living,  I realize I will have to get on a plane and take on the role of ‘caretaker’ to a woman I have, at best, a difficult relationship with and conflicted feelings for. I am still dancing around some very difficult and delicate realities. Initially I thought I could just deal with the checkboxes of what needs to be done; you know make a list of what it will take to move this woman from one place to the other. As anyone knows who has had to undertake moving an elderly parent it isn’t easy, there is a ton, a lifetime of emotional baggage. You can’t just swoop in and say to them, ‘come on old woman time to pack it in, we’re heading over to this strange new place where the nice people will take care of you.

This is especially true when you are talking about me and my second mother, we barely speak, barely know each other and I am not at all certain she trusts me.

But this doesn’t change the what has to be done or the reality of our situation, I am still left with the hard part. It also doesn’t change that underneath my somewhat tough exterior I am mushy, I have compassion and I am even likely a kind person (please don’t tell). My second mother is old, she has a touch of dementia and from all reports she isn’t doing all that well mentally. I feel sorry for her. My brother left this too long, he should have insisted she make this move two years ago but he didn’t. Now it is left to me because he can’t get home from Korea soon enough. At the end of the day I suspect I will wind up the bad guy, the one with the hard job. Funny I have always been the ‘bad’ daughter and her biggest disappointment, now I will be the ‘evil’ daughter the one who packs her off to assisted living potentially ‘against her will’. He will swoop in a few weeks later and pacify her and listen to her complaints, commiserate even; but it will all be done. Everything will be as it always has been.

I know this is the right thing for her. She cannot continue to live alone, she is not safe. I think there is something I am supposed to learn from this, perhaps some forgiveness I am supposed to achieve in this process, some softening of my hard-heart. Some peace I can gain, I hope so. Two weeks ago I was very angry and had a very difficult time with the situation I was left in. The more time I have the more I am able to find some peace in myself, though I haven’t yet figured out why this is left to me.

My brother hopes I will finally stop hating my second mother, he doesn’t understand I haven’t hated her in decades, I simply find a relationship with her to be toxic and not in my best interest.

My brother also doesn’t understand if I didn’t love him I would not do this. My true compassion is for him. I think I know in my heart, he left this so long because he couldn’t do this it is too hard. My big tough Special Forces Iron Man brother can’t do a little thing like move an old lady for her own good.

So one more time I am going to go be the bad daughter, the evil one. I think I am actually okay this time. Maybe my chains are finally falling away gently.

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