I was talking to my mother this week and had a wake up call. It occurred to me I don’t know my parent's doctors' names, their prescription medications, or their neighbors, the only people with whom they have moderately close relationships (my parents cut off all ties with friends when dad’s mind started going because they were embarrassed).
My father has Alzheimer’s Disease. He is really not my father any more. My brother and I have discussed the ways we have mourned the loss. It’s sad and I’m being brutally honest here: my father has become a preoccupation for my mother and a problem to be solved. He can’t have a conversation. He can’t be trusted when alone. He is unpredictable and often times violent. He does not go into public places any more.
But my mom insists everything is fine. She is alone with him in Dallas. I’m in Los Angeles, my brother in New Hampshire.
My mother is in ill health and always has been. In the last five years she has become morbidly obese. They are a mess. Still, I want to believe her when she says they are ok because I don’t want to deal with it either.
So when my mom told me that she and dad couldn’t fly out to LA because he would get lost in the airplane, that shook me. My dad would get lost on a straight line? Inside a tube? Where there is no entrance or exit?
She tipped her cards. My mother finally betrayed the true level of how not ok they are. I often get angry at my mom for not being prepared for the stages, not hitting the problem head on. She limits advice to only things she wants to hear. I'll be damned if it didn't occur to me I'm doing that too. Well, not any more. Come Monday, I start developing a strategy. The day has come.