May 27, 2006
I'm in a foul mood to begin with, one that cannot be rescued by any amount of sunshine and holiday weekend barbeque sauce.
So if you want happy, go here, or for those of you who need something stronger/toxic, try this.

"We should go out today," my mother said. "Your father doesn't really want to leave the house anymore, and that worries me."

I'm not so sure I would want to go out if I was always strapped to an oxygen tank, but truth be told, Mom's recent reports of an increase in naps also worries the sheer hell out of me, too. I remember being about 10 the last time I saw my father sleep during the day, and that was part and parcel of a flu that knocked him off of his capable feet for the better part of a week.

But a second phone call reduced today's outing to a Saturday afternoon spent inside. She is tired from a busy Friday made worse by two shoulders that needed surgery - she didn't have - two months ago. It isn't just Dad who doesn't want to leave the house anymore.

I have vowed in the past (incredibly selfish) year to make more of an effort to spend time with my parents, two people who have devoted so much of who they are to me. But recently this has become increasingly difficult, and although I'm embarassed to say it, a more depressing endeavor than I ever imagined it would be in my early 30s. A confusing drive and a full flight of stairs have resulted in them visiting my apartment no more than twice. We seldom eat out at a variety of restaurants like we once did, and when we do, dessert is never on our menus. Netflix provides our entertainment, because our lives require just too much effort. Activities involve warning and seven phone calls and more strategic planning than the junior prom.

Little by little there is less content to our conversations, save the ever-present drama either myself or my sister is creating. We have resigned ourselves to the fact that pretty soon the weekly Safeway and mall outings, those that suck all remaining energy out of both of them, will be replaced by Peapod and UPS deliveries.

And I'm mad as hell at the universe for this. I want so badly for them to have spunk and life and breath so as a family we can enjoy what adulthood has to offer the four of us. It isn't enough for me to have my father view the newborn osprey from his bedroom window; I want him to be able to smell the waterfront, to hear their mother's squawking, to feel the sun on his face. I want my mother to plant flowers and see movies and walk through college towns because she loves how vibrant they are. And although I know I had my chance when I was younger, why can't it be my father who shows me at age 32 the right way to bat for this stupid freaking softball team?

My mother called just now and left a message saying I should bring cards to the house. And I will: Taco Bell and playing cards. And this afternoon I will cut their cat's nails and we'll talk about the day and how breezy it's gotten. And I'm not sure they'll leave home for the rest of the weekend. Or that I'll want to.

My sadness is overwhelming.

And as I'm sure they do, I just wish things were so different.



Blogger Brookelina said...

I wish things were different too. Please don't be so hard on yourself, but understand that what you want for them is not really an option now. Enjoy the time you have with them for what it is, otherwise every visit will be spoiled by what you wish it could be, and not what it actually is. They are still here with you, they still know you and love you, and they still want to spend time with you. That's more than many of us have.

Big hugs to you.

Blogger Kim said...
Anonymous Jurgen Nation said...

Oh, Boo Bear. ((HUG))

Blogger twobuyfour said...

What Brooke says is true. You can't make your parents young or healthy or vibrant. But you CAN share their lives with them. Movies are great, but they are no substitute for interaction. They may not have a lot of upbeat things to say, but TALK to them. Ask them questions. Get them talking to you. About anything. Otherwise ten years from now you'll wish you had seized the day today.

Blogger Paige Jennifer said...

From a complete stranger who can relate... When I slip into a WTF-is-going-on funk specific to my ailing dad, I repeat one simple sentence over and over.

You can't control what you can't control.

Just try to find smiles in the memories. And when that doesn't work, let it go. Whether unstoppable tears or a crazy Turrets-esque rush of poetic cursing, open up and let it out. Better than keeping it in. And more importantly, it's a lot less damaging than a pint of Ben & Jerry's.

Hang in there...

Anonymous Maliavale said...

My heart goes out to you and your parents. I'm sorry, Kris.

Blogger Jessica said...

I send a cyber-hug: *hug*. All that I can say is that the entire time my grandfather was ill and dying after my mom passed I just kept repeating "One day at a time". Sounds cliche, but really it is all we day at a time. Sometimes it makes it a little more bearable to break it into that smaller chunk. Anyway, spend time while you can, understand that you can't do everything, and talk to them when you can as much as possible. *hug*

It sounds like you already know what to do, you're just not happy with it. You must be feeling so sad and frustrated.

Blogger Megarita said...

Oh whoa that's rough. Are your parents older? I went through something similar with my grandparents, who basically raised me, and it was devastating. You know their younger selves are still in there somewhere, but the illness, the weariness, the frustration, and maybe even the depression is pinning them down. Good luck with this -- your visits now have a great deal more meaning than before!

Anonymous Jorge said...

You know, it's probably very obvious of me to say this.

But you are their sunshine.


And it's okay for the sunshine to hide behind a could once in a while.

But you cannot deny them the joy that you are, no matter how miserable you might feel.

Time marches on, and things change for everyone. Some get older, some get sick. But everyone means something to someone.

I'm not going to tell you to cheer up. But just remember that you are the sun to at least 4 people that you know. :)

Happy Sunday. I hope you have a good visit. Quagmire/Cleveland are on Standby...


Blogger Thérèse said...

Not to get all echoey, but I also think Brooke is right. And Jorge. And... I don't know what else to say, except


Anonymous gorillabuns said...

it is quite depressing to wake up and realize that your parents are the extra children you didn't realize you were going to have to raise. even in your 30's you still feel like the child and when the roles are reversed, it's scary and sad.

hopefully, you will find the peace needed in this phase of life and cherish these times, however hard.

Blogger Bill said...

I wouldn't be too concerned about the content of conversations. Communication is often less about what is communicated and more about the act of communicating. Activities are similar - it's less about what you do than who you are doing it with, even if it's sitting on your ass watching crappy TV.

My parents are long gone so in my case there is no option. But as I recall, when there wasn't much gas left in the tank we often fell back on nostalgia (which does have its upside). You know, "Do you remember when ...?" kinds of things.

Anyway, while it sounds like one of those harsh, stoic kinds of bullshit attitudes, you really can't roll back time so there is nothing to do but accept what is and enjoy what's there. And sometimes banal and boring are interrupted by unexpected moments and lives, as we remember them, are not a continuum but moments.

Interestingly, I remember with my mother that we often had "moments" recalling other moments and killing ourselves laughing. Like a night sky, there are a pinpricks of light. (My God ... that sounds like a freaking Hallmark card. I can't believe I wrote that.)

Anonymous nabbalicious said...

Kris, I'm so sorry. I'll be thinking about you.

Anonymous Eileen said...

Man I feel your pain. I just got home from a visit back to see family.

Blogger Bridget Jones said...

What Brooke and Jorge said. I love my Mom to pieces. Although she isn't who she was, she is still her. Would not trade the minutes/hours I have with her for anything, even if it's just watching TV. It's hard to accept change. As a fellow daughter, all I can offer is that comparing your experience to what it could be in any situation usually brings unhappiness/pain--it sure doesn't make you feel good normally (salaries, jobs, boyfriend relationships, weight, looks).

Accepting what is (the half loaf is better than no loaf) is hard but only at first. It gets much easier with time.

Hope that helps. Regret is a poison...Hate to sound preachy but if there's one thing to look out for, it's that one.

((((((hugs)))))) Bridg

Anonymous mrs. jorge said...

I don't know if I know exactly what you're going through. But I do know how hard it can be to feel loving thoughts of my mother sometimes because I just want her to be who she used to be a very long time ago.... And then I feel guilty for the way I feel about her. The joys of being a daughter.

Others have far better words of advice (i.e. my husband!) so I'll just send you a hug instead.


Blogger mysterygirl! said...

Everyone here has already said it better, but I wanted to add my concern to the mix. Hugs to you-- hang in there.

Blogger Sizzle said...

oh kris, i am so sorry. i have been in a similar situation when my dad was alive. it isn't selfish to wish for it to be different. no one wants to see their parents age or give up.

Blogger Amy said...

Someone said it earlier in the posts, but it's worth repeating: you are their sunshine. I think the same thing when I visit my grandparents. He's in a nursing home, she won't leave the house. Bring them Hardee's sandwiches, some new clothes from Walmart and just sit and talk.

If there are stories to tell, ask. If there is history you don't know, now is the time. The present may not seem very exciting but all that has been is still very alive.

Blogger Della said...

OK,I've lurked long enough.

I understand your feelings about your parents. I had the same with my Grandma & Grandpa, both sets. I did whatever made them happy with them and I only have the memories left. My Daddy died suddenly and the woman who gave birth to me is mentally ill and my family is all safer away from her. My GParents were happy just to have me around, even if it was just idle chatter.

You are lucky to be able to visit them when you want.


Guess who taught me how to play all the classic card games?


Blogger Aimée said...

I love you, my dear friend. I'm sorry you have to experience this and I'm so sorry they have to, tool, I know they want the same things you do. But what joy your mere presence brings them :-)

Blogger Aimée said...

too. too, not tool. too. I am a tool.

Blogger Needtsza said...

I'm a DC blogger. How come no love on your site?

Congrats on your 201st post =)

Blogger randy said...

Doesn't matter what age you are. I'm 52 and the situation still sucks. Just a couple years ago, I took my parents to Europe, then Alaska. We had the BEST time. I'm so sorry I didn't travel with them ealier. Now, a trip to Costco sets my dad back two days. And yet, I feel fortunate, because both have always had the most positive outlooks. I can tell that they're adjusting to their new shut-in lives and making the best of it. Watching Seinfeld over dinner is the highlight of their day, and dammit, nothing better interrupt it!

Sounds like you love your parents, and that's all you can do--keep on loving them and (shudder!) be the child they're proud of.

And for yourself, pay heed to the lesson (I'm probably preaching to the choir here) that life is meant to be lived today, not tomorrow.

Blogger Needtsza said...

Ok. I'm a jackass.

I'm sorry. I read something about a 201st post and I'm just stupid enough to post on that.

I'm actually quite a sensitive person so for my previous post, I couldn't be more sorry.

And I'm sorry for what you're going through. I can relate to your sadness, but this isn't about me.


Blogger N said...

hello, i hate everyone
im in a foul mood
i h8 u too
i hate
im known as the hater

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