My Mother is 85 years old and lives with my younger brother in Pennsylvania at the old family homestead outside of Downingtown, Pennsylvania. She has lived there sine 1958, when she and my father built their one bathroom, three bedroom, 1,100 square foot ranch house on three acres of a former cornfield.
In Early 2006 I decided to move from my home one road away from my Mother's house in Pennsylvania because I could no longer afford to pay the high school property tax on my property. My Mother has never forgiven me for moving. Over thirty years ago my youngest brother moved to Greenville, South Carolina to pursue his calling to the ministry. She has never forgiven him for moving either.
My Father died of lung cancer August 22, 2000. My parents were married sixty years. My Mother has never been the same since he died. She lost a lot of weight and is beset with any number of ailments, real and imagined. Perhaps her worst affliction though is her single minded devotion to the Fox News channel and hatred of anything or anybody associated with the Democrats or the Democratic Party.
For many years she would rant and rail against Bill and Hilary Clinton. These days her new enemies are Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama. She takes her marching orders from Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity. It is impossible to have a reasonable discussion with her. She will scream and put both of her hands over her ears so she doesn't have to listen to any views that differ from hers.
My Mother is convinced that she is dying. Whenever I talk to her she says "Ronnie, I'm dying." I tell her, "We're all dying. We just don't know when." Her life is a series of doctor's visits. She is convinced she is at Death's Door. One time she got very angry when a doctor told her that she "was doing much better than her mother who died when she was only 27 years old." Mom did not like the comparison at all and is still get angry when reminded of the doctor's comment.
My Mother and I were always very close, especially when I was growing up. I guess I can lay claim to being her favorite child. My youngest brother John was my father's pet. Poor Isaac, the middle child, probably neglected by both parents. Perhaps the word "neglect" is too strong of a word but Isaac suffered the usual fate of the middle child, taken for granted although loved just the same.
For many years I could talk to my Mother more as a friend or a big sister than a Mother. I enjoyed those talks. However, since my father died, I find it very difficult to talk to my Mother. Even though she is hard of hearing, she doesn't seem to hear what I'm saying. She is more focused on herself and her endless complaints about her health and life in general. Her paranoia has gotten worse over the years. She thinks everyone is out to get her from the Democrats to the people who are always calling her on the phone and hanging up just as she picks up the phone.
Since I've moved to Delaware I haven't been able to visit her like I did when I lived only a road away. I used to stop in almost every day and have a talk with her. My talking seem to sooth and relax her. Now that I don't see her as often, I fear I have become one of Them. An outsider. Which is a shame.
I love my Mother very much. She has always been very kind and more than generous to me and my brothers over the years. As I mentioned earlier, my brother Isaac lives with her and takes care of her now at her home. I have a place for her if she wants to move in with me. My youngest brother also has a place for her in his home in Greenville, South Carolina. We leave the decision up to my Mother where she wants to live as long as she is able to get around.
Recently I've been trying to call her but I haven't been able to get through. She doesn't answer the phone. She used to get on her computer and check her e-mails but she doesn't do that now because she thinks the computer is out to get her with all the reminders for upgrades. I have a hunch she is upset because I didn't send her an Easter card. I forgot. When I lived near her I always took over an Easter flower and a card. This year I had the worst cold of my life and making an Easter trip didn't enter my mind.
Last year I made several quick trips to visit her when I sensed that she was upset with me for some reason unknown to me. My youngest brother, who is a care pastor, offered me some good advice. He said "Don't let her manipulate you. Once you do that, then you'll be running back and forth all the time, never pleasing her." As harsh as it sounds, my baby brother gave me sound advice.
I'm planning on making a day trip to Pennsylvania the next clear Sunday (I don't travel in the rain.) I have to return some family genealogical items to a second cousin in Pennsylvania. I'll stop by and visit my Mother. I'll give her a hug. Things will go back to normal, at least during my visit. Then I'll make the 2 1/2 drive back home to Delaware and I will be an outsider again.
The slow inevitable march of dementia is taking my best friend Big Bob away from me. Now I fear that something much worse is taking my Mother away from me.