Wow,this piece really hit home.After my mother's stroke in 2002,my life changed dramatically. I am an only child so all the decisions fell on my shoulders. I couldn't walk away and I was forced to face everything with little time to research options.My mother had always been totally in charge of her life and had trusts set up and health care proxy in order, but didn't trust me enough to start funding a revocable trust in my name that I would now have to fund so I could manage her affairs which involved long term care for her. Right away I was hurt that she didn't feel I could have done these important things-that she had to be in charge no matter what. She was always sort of critical and caused a rift in our life by making subtle remarks that could irritate us. After the stroke she became a "sweet old lady", not the mother I knew. Our whole world reversed as I became " mother" to her. It was hard for her to let go,but she was paralyzed on the left side and lost her left side perception-nothing was visible to her that was on her left side-not even her arm was there in her field of vision or feeling-books and paintings were only half there. She could no long read, push buttons on a phone or operate mechanical things, let alone pay bills. She had her mind though!She could still do the NY Times crossword puzzle the Sunday after her stroke if I read her the clues. She still knew what day it was and where her grand daughter was in India. Her curious mind was there, but managing her life was not an option. Rehab and recovery was the goal and she went at it with a vengeance. Pulmonary edema got in the way and she ended up in a nursing home and I had to find a good one quickly in my home town, three hours from where I lived and spent the next six months traveling between those places until she could be stabilized and moved nearer my home. That meant selling her home, dispersing her things, finding a place for her near me, which would do more rehab and deal with my own life which had just received another shock via my husband(I won't get into those details). To get her to Massachusetts meant hiring an ambulance at the cost of a thousand dollars plus, but I found a luxury car I could rent for a day ($99)and a nurse friend to come with us and we drove her here-a much more comfy ride than flat on her back or in a wheelchair for 4 hours in a bumpy ambulance. This was the beginning of my "creative ways to save money and make my mother more comfortable" and seem less like a paraplegic and keep her out of institutions. My goal was now to do this for what was the next six years until her money ran out or she passed away. I eventually found a wonderful, mature, educated Kenyan woman who I hired away from an agency to be her full time aid. She lived with her at an assisted living until that got too expensive and I ended up building a handicapped house next door to mine, which turned out to be less expensive with a full time aid than any other possibility. I have never been in a management situation or trained that way-always an at home mother with part time teaching or landscaping jobs.Now I had actually built a house and managed a difficult situation with no training. It pushed me to the edge and now I have a beautiful handicapped accessible house for sale in this wonderful housing market, no inheritance, a difficult marriage (husband is diagnosed with Parkinson's)and the diagnosis of breast cancer this week. I feel angry sometimes that the stress of dealing with all this came at a time when I should have been enhancing my own life's goals. I feel guilty that on my mother's death I was some what relieved and yet because I was now on antidepressants, I did not fully mourn her passing-that had happened earlier I guess over time when I realized she was different from my original mother and that I had become"her mother". This seems to be happening a lot to other women and I will now read this book and hopefully find some insight that I can share with others.
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