Thank you to every blogger who has kept Courting in better condition than I do, and will continue to for the next week and a half. I owe you much, and you all have my heart and gratitude.
Here is a link to a page that I wrote about Courting. It’s probably a lot better than this post. Just had to write it
And back to a guest tomorrow.
I don’t mean for this post to be depressing. But let me be real. Ten years ago few people wanted to hear about the problems of old age, if they didn’t fit into an exact box. Even fewer people wanted to hear about the problems between a parent and an adult child.
Not every parent is “compliant” and will use the services of a geriatric care manager or an aide—and if you force one or the other on a competent person you can be construed as abusive because you are. But not every adult child is perfect and able to be there for her parent at all or most times.
This isn’t my problem anymore. I tried for years, even years after my Mom’s death to talk about it. My parents were older than the average baby boomers. Now people want to talk about it. Now people want my expertise.
For my own sanity, I want a respite from it. Most of the time my Mom felt incredibly guilty about being so needy. I had access to many of the best resources in New York. But my mother didn’t fit into any box. Too competent, too feisty, too able to take care of herself.
She mostly needed people to shop for her, go over her very extensive wardrobe for spots and stains, and take her to activities in her NORC–naturally occurring retirement community. She didn’t want the stigma of an aide. To her that was giving up. To be an adult child and not to be able properly help hurt.
While I am over it, I am angry, at all the experts who were so busy categorizing older people that they couldn’t see individuals.
Had my mother been Medicaid eligible she would have received more services, and yes even more empathy. Apparently many so called experts think poverty in old age makes an older person more worthy. Or at least they could fall into the Medicaid pigeon holes. Had she been very rich, well it didn’t help Brook Astor….
She could have afforded an assisted living facility. She didn’t want to live in one. There were people who thought that I wanted her money. Wanted her to spend every cent of it. Other people thought my sister and I were crazy for not making her have trusts. We couldn’t and wouldn’t make her do anything.
I hope that people take these problems seriously. I’m not looking for sympathy or pity. There is nothing cute or noble about old age. To my mother it was dehumanizing. Too me it was guilt and horror inducing.
I felt like I was entering my old age at 45–worked in a nursing home, lived in a building with many old people, and visited my mother.
I was single. Though I lived several hours away by public transport and worked long hours, it was assumed by many that I would want to give up my life for my mother. She didn’t want me to.
We all want to feel that we are living up to our responsibilities but how far do they go? Because I was single was I supposed to give up my social life for decades maybe? This sounds trite and selfish. It’s not. It’s reality. And I had nobody that I could discuss this all with though I was surrounded by national experts on aging.
My mother was more baby boomer in her attitudes than “greatest generation.” Get ready children of baby boomers. There are going to be many people with debilatating conditions that are going to refuse the old “rules.”
My Mom had a great sense of humor. Much of the time so did I. We could laugh through the distress. Not really true on my part. Had I the blogger support that I have now, it would have been. Things would have been very different.
Blogging is wonderful for that. There is always somebody who can see things just a bit differently. There is always somebody to cry to. There is always somebody to laugh with.
Back to thinking that blogging is a miracle of the millenium. Feel truly blessed.
It was during the Days of Awe, or the period between the Jewish New Year and Yom Kippur, the day of repentance, that I first spoke to my birth mother eighteen years ago.
It felt like a sign. Oh how foolish we can be when we want something so badly. While I had never had a burning desire to meet her, I so wanted to like and respect her. And I respect her very much.
We just didn’t like each other. It was the 80’s. I had big hair, big make up, designer clothes.
I looked like uptown bohemian with Marcasite on everything including my hair. My best power suit was fuchsia and sexy. It opened every door.
Women were impressed because I wasn’t afraid to be myself. I didn’t know how not to be. I was finally beginning to come to terms with the affect that I had on people.
At work, and I worked for a paralegal recruitment agency for the “best paralegal school” where we had to look great, my boss called me “the movie star.” Others really thought that I was a soap star
I was all about appearance. This week I have confronted my inner Paris Hilton. While I focused on my life rather than my blog, I have confronted much.
Eighteen years ago, I had two healthy though eccentric parents who loved me more than there are stars in the sky. Not that they would have said things like that.
Eighteen years ago, I was sure that I was going to meet somebody super special and get married. Yes I had read the infamous Time Magazine study about having more of a chance of being blown up in a terrorist attack. As I had near encounters I found that in horrible taste. I also didn’t believe it.
I had been married. I had lived with other men. I probably passed many true princes in search of the baddest most vile toad.
My friends were just beginning to have kids. I thought it a distinct possibility, and it’s a good thing that blogs didn’t exist then as I spent too much time at the gyn, and would have treated you…to be short and discrete, I attempted to ensure my fertility.
Then everything changed. I was planning to go to law school, but took a federal government test on a whim. Was besieged with offers. Went to work for SSI in its first external, not from within, Claims Rep class in eight years. Reagan had tried to dismantle Social Security. The first Bush understood that it was needed. My Dad, of course wanted me to work for the SSA side. So much more civilized.
I wasn’t used to poverty. Oh, I had lived in tenements but I was young. I had worked on a block off an Avenue filled with welfare hotels, and will never forget the kids running around, unsupervised at night. They would try to climb onto the top of cars and not always succeed.
I worked long hours. I was engaged to a co-worker who made his own hours, had private clients who paid a lot and he loved to spend his money on me. It didn’t occur to me to do something.
We would stay at work late, smoke a joint, sit on the fire escape and watch The Avenue and the city. We worked for a computer company, and the computers bright lights filled the room almost as if they were neon.
Our other life was spent at good restaurants and clubs. My fiance had a special love for Windows on the World. When we didn’t eat there, we hung at the jazz bar. Couldn’t get him to go to the new trendy restaurants in Soho. Reserved that for my friends.
The 80’s were like that. It was a very self-indulgent decade. I could afford to spend money on me and I did. I traveled a lot. It was the perfect decade despite so many friends deaths from AIDS, and forgive me for saying that. I miss them every day.
Then came the 90’s. The Gay friends who had survived the 80’s didn’t survive past 93.
My Dad suddenly died, during Passover in 1991, his favorite holiday. My Mom had Macular Degeneration. Little was known about it then. She had always been ahead of her time. Nobody knew that a treatment wouldn’t be available. Nobody knew that you could lose all your sight.
My Mom had always been one of the most popular people I knew. She was funny, bright, and self assured on the outside. She would lose all self assurance. She was sure people thought that she was demented, and too many did. No person her age or ten years younger as most people thought that she was as blind as she was. If you knew my mother, you knew that she would downplay terminal cancer. She did when I was a teenager and it was thought that she was dying.
My Mom had a condition we knew nothing about. No other animal gets it. None live long enough.
People began to avoid her. She began to avoid other people. It was very difficult for me. Yes it was very difficult for her. She complained to me constantly, and I complained back. It wasn’t my finest time. I was scared. I felt alone and as if nobody understood. I became needy, and I had always been the easy friend, the go to friend in an emergency. Now I was begging. But people were going through divorces, child custody suits, hard times at work. There was always another reason, and I tried to understand.
I had been planning to leave New York. Was going to take a job transfer to San Diego. It was drive by shooting/crack days and I worked in the Bronx.
Back in the East 60’s I was the only legitimate tenant on the first floor. My landlord filled the apartment next to me with girls that were called “models” but were either the quickest whores in an actual apartment, drug dealers or both.
People would let homeless people stay in the lobby. I was the first to leave in the morning and would wake them up. It dawned on me this might not be a good thing. New York had been hit hard by the 87 recession and hadn’t begun to recover.
I moved to Riverdale, a place that I didn’t belong in. I couldn’t help my mom though I went to grad school so that I could learn about aging.
My Mom was still independent and vain. She went from being the perfect mother to somebody that I had a hard time seeing and speaking to though I spoke to her five times a day. Was an early cell adapter.
I was selfish. I wanted my life back. My therapist told me that I deserved it, but what did she know? She was ten years older than me, her mother was my mother’s age and healthy.
I felt much internal and external pressure. I knew how to deal with older people with other problems, I didn’t know what to do with somebody who wasn’t demented, had Parkinson’s, Pulmonary Disease, cancer, and much else.
I turned inward and away from my friends who didn’t understand anyway. At the nursing home I was told that I was crazy to let my mother live alone. Didn’t have a choice. She was capable, could tell all her meds apart, and wouldn’t move to an assisted living facility.
Five horrible years ago, the High Holy Days, were the last time I was too see my real mother. I could tell something was off since The Trade Center.
I chose to look the other way. I have written before that I was complicit in my Mom’s death and of the guilt I felt. Really weren’t we all a bit off?
I haven’t written about the times that I hated her during the last five or seven years of her life. I haven’t written about how I felt like a fraud writing about my earlier life, when the 90’s which ended in 2003, for me, when war was declared, was so horrible.
How could I be that person I was writing about when I was a wreck?
Because I was never the wreck that I was in my imagination, I am myself again, and does it really matter?
Life happens. Maybe being a different person in different decades is a sign of an active and healthy life. I have no idea.
I know that we don’t live in the best of times. But damn, I’m beginning to enjoy myself again. I feel personal success and happiness coming my way. I don’t define success as most people do, but being at peace and content with my life.
Once more I must thank bloggers.
When I talk about my Mom and Dad, I mean my adoptive parents, of course. The word adoption doesn’t mean much to me other than as an understanding of my genetic background. If I sound harsh, I don’t mean to be, but this is my truth.
If this is disjointed, fragmented, or redundant, I’m sorry sort of. When I blog, I get to reframe experiences so that I can see them through all lights.