Finding my guilt

It has become clear now that I visit Mom once per week. At the most. I sometimes find myself pretending, out loud or to myself, that I still visit her twice a week. But that hasn’t been the case for awhile, beginning this past winter. And I mostly think that is OK – the weekly visit, not the denial. If Mom’s behavior were bad, or if she otherwise indicated she really needs me around, I would visit more often, as I did when she was in assisted living.

That said, I have just let a beautiful spring Sunday go by without visiting her. And I feel guilty about it. I had planned to visit her. I got an early start on laundry and read all of my favorite parts of the newspaper without interruption. Patrick and I had a nice breakfast, and ate outside on our little patio. I wasn’t going to take a shower before visiting Mom, because there was some gardening I wanted to do later. So that would save me some time. But by the time I was nearly dressed, it was 11:33. Too late to make a visit long enough to be meaningful before lunch. I declared to Patrick that I wouldn’t be going after all. “Good for you,” he said.

Well, maybe. I did the gardening instead. I love the results of yard work, but I am not a fan of doing the work itself most of the time. But it took my mind off of Mom for awhile. And then I showered, and I rested on the couch with a book for a little while. I helped Patrick with some transcription because I am a fast typist. We spent time together in the back yard reading our books. And then I made spaghetti sauce early so it could cook for a long time.

All the while, I thought about possibly visiting Mom later in the day. Trying a visit before dinner might be interesting, I thought. I wondered if she had a chance to go outside today, in the warm sun. I assumed she was spending time with her boyfriend. But I didn’t do it. I didn’t go. What I did do was put her warm-weather shirts in the wash so I can take them to her this week when I do finally visit and pack up her winter clothes to bring home with me.

I have said a number of times at support group, and here, I believe, that I do not feel guilty about placing Mom in a nursing home, or in assisted living before that. I have many regrets about my behavior in the early days of her illness. But I can’t have that time back to do things differently, so I try not to dwell on my impatience, and anger, and dread, and how those emotions influenced what I said to Mom, and how I said it, before I realized she was sick. I wish things had not been the way they were. But that’s about all I can do. And as for Mom’s life in institutions – well, I would say the quality of her life in assisted living was better than it was when she lived alone in a second-floor apartment in a crappy old building. And I know that the quality of her life now, at the Alz center, is simply as good as it could possibly be. She is not lonely, or scared, or sad, and she is kept busy all day long. And she has a companion.

I do feel guilty about the frequency – or lack thereof – of my visits with her these days. It is all self-imposed. I sense no judgment from anyone else. So why do I feel guilt? I don’t know. And why don’t I visit more frequently to make myself feel better? I don’t know. I guess I just don’t want to. And that makes me feel guilty, too.

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3 comments so far

  1. Suzanne on

    Emily, your care of your mother is inspiring. If she could, I bet she would say to you, “Emily, on this beautiful April day, spend time outside, spend time relaxing, spend time enjoying your husband and your home.” As you were enjoying simple pleasures, I bet she was too.

    Hope this doesn’t sound preachy — I totally get the guilt thing. I just want to reinforce what you already know, that you don’t need to feel guilty. 🙂

  2. Tom on

    I sincerely hope that the guilt passes. You should feel incredibly proud that you were instrumental in getting your Mom to a place where she is fairly independent and has friends and activities. The fact that she doesn’t seem to need you as much is a testament to your success and hard work. I’d like to think that the fact that you’re less inclined to go is an indication that you need to take some time for yourself. As someone once told me, if you’re not taking good care of yourself, you can’t take care of anyone else. Enjoy the sun and your book. As always, you rock!

  3. momsbrain on

    Suzanne and Tom, thanks very much! I know guilt is a wasted emotion. It’s just there sometimes, nagging me…


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