My mother had both her knees replaced in early June. I was expected for a “call of duty” to go home to help her get acclimated and to manage the house since my father is incapable. So as a good daughter, I requested time off from work, booked an overpriced flight, and flew home over the 4th of July to play “nanny” for my parents and elderly grandmother.
Quick overview of my dysfunctional family… My mother has an undiagnosed emotional imbalance and behaves more like a child than an adult. My father has a logical mind, but due to my mother’s poor behavior he tends to act demoralized or over-dramatic to gain attention. Both my parents are only-children, dated since high school, and have pretty sheltered experiences in the 50+ years they have been alive. They both seem miserable, they argue all the time with each other, and if something isn’t done to their liking… they react with an emotional outburst. My grandmother is almost 90 and is house-bound due to her progressive Alzheimer’s disease. She lives next door to my parents and it has always been that way…which seemed nice when I was a kid, but now I think its strange. My mother resents my grandmother and seems to be looking forward to the day that she doesn’t have to be burdened with my grandmother’s ongoing care and disillusioned behavior.
Therefore, going home to visit the 3 of them is emotionally taxing. On a daily basis during my visit, I called Cletus for a sanity check and called DireMole just to tell him I love him because I was scared of my emotional wellbeing. I love my parents and they have good merits… but after caring for them over a long-weekend, I needed a tranquilizer.
I treat my parents like spoiled-brat children. I try to stay patient and maintain the peace when they have their outbursts. Since my mother is temporarily handicapped, my father has been the head-housekeeper. He has never had to regularly cook, do the dishes, or laundry. Therefore, I flew home do manage the house and clean up whatever hasn’t been getting done. And what did I realize? My parents live in a self-generated screwed-up reality and that this is only the beginning of the ongoing care they will require as they age. FML… For example, my father who is a miser, refuses to run the dishwasher more than once a week. That gets a little outrageous when you consider they eat 3 meals a day at home. So what has my dad been doing with the dirty dishes in-between the weekly dishwasher run? He’s been hand-washing them, which seems almost acceptable, except it’s not. I walked in on him “hand-washing” AND apparently “hand-washing” has taken on many forms in my parent’s house. One of which includes rinsing the dishes with water, squirting them half-a-dozen times with Windex or another cleaner, and then rinsing them (AGAIN) with water. Schizzam! Clean! I was shocked and at a loss of words to witness this behavior. I walked over to my father and asked him what he was doing. He knew he was caught and gave me a weird smile. I grabbed the dish out of his hand and proceeded to run whatever I could find through the dishwasher. I realized that most of the glasses and dishes in the cabinets had a weird gleam to them…the remainder of my time home I ran the dishwasher daily.
Did other upsetting events occur over the weekend? Yes! Of course! How about the 4th of July when my mother made my grandmother cry and told her she couldn’t come over to eat dinner with us? This is after I went out and bought the groceries and spent the rest of the day cooking a nice meal for the 4th celebration… Or how about the time I forgot to switch the nozzle head in the shower and my mother apparently “scorched” herself with hot water? I’m not sure how these two are related, but apparently they are when you live in a psych ward for 4 days. Or how about my parent’s daily arguments that included my mother slamming doors to add more dramatic effect to the irrational circumstances? I felt like I had been there for a week after one night. The last morning I was there, my parents took me to the local diner for breakfast before they dropped me off at the airport. Instead of reminiscing on all the exciting experiences from the weekend (most of the highlights I mentioned above excluding an ill-fated early birthday celebration) they proceeded to discuss all their health problems. I was left with the impression that both of them are going to hell in a hand basket in a relatively fast manner. Nothing says “Happy Birthday” like your parents telling you about your genetic health problems that are looming in the near future.
Once I got back home I felt physically and emotionally drained. The only thing I could do was lay in bed, feel sorry for myself and cry. Honestly, that was a shitty weekend. I know my parents appreciated my efforts (ie: making about 2 weeks of food, cleaning, gardening, setting up streaming on their TV, and keeping them company) but at what expense? I couldn’t get out of bed this morning to make it to work on time. The longer I sat in traffic, the more I wanted to turnaround and go home to have an emotional-cleansing day. But this time… without the Windex.