On my way to posting, I wanted to share this fabulous word in Spanish: desahogar. It means, to vent or relieve or unburden oneself. If taken literally, you might say it means to un-drown oneself - "des"(un) "ahogar" (drown). So, when I feel like I'm drowning in stress or worries or difficulties caring for my mother, I can "desahogar", either here or with my sister or a friend, and it helps.
I booked the flight when I'll take my mother to stay with my brother. It gives me an end date for my time with her, creating both sadness but a tremendous amount of relief. The sadness is that it may well be the last time I talk with her, since not long thereafter, we will retire out of the country. And, the sadness is seeing her being cared for by my brother instead of by me. He will be fine, and while there will be some advantages (she will live in his home - I think), but some disadvantages (it sounds like he will hire someone to 'watch her' many many hours). And, it's not me. The the plus side is that I will have the freedom to start this next phase of my life, a true treasure.
Meantime, my sister has written me of her reactions. In fairness to her, since this is not her blog, I will just leave it that she is feeling sad that she is not more part of this transfer. I feel guilty, like I did something wrong, though I know we have been talking about this (including her) for months ... and my pulling the trigger on the airplane ride just represents the final act of removing her from the Midwest where both of us life. But all these old family dramas play out, even in a way competing to be the 'best child', overtly or covertly or unknowingly or inadvertently.
I have been getting emails from my brother and his wife, and some seem to smack of a bit of self-righteousness and superiority. Maybe my emails to them have seemed that way over the last years, but I don't think so. I'm trying not to be hypersensitive. And, if that's the price I pay to have my freedom, then, fine. Brother, you may have the blue ribbon now, Best Child, 2012-20??.
But I'm sad that my sister is troubled and feels excluded.
I visited Mom yesterday, and some conversation shook me to the bone. Somehow I was talking about my grandchildren, 9 and 11, and about their growing-up years. She mentioned something vague about when I was that age, and as we sat quietly, I began to reflect on how horribly unhappy I was in my teen years. Though I have rarely done so, I shared with her how miserable I was in those years, and told about a time when I was doing dishes at the sink, looking outside, and desperately wanting to shatter a glass and cut open my veins to kill myself. When I finished telling her that, the room was quiet. She turned to me and said, "Where was I?" I said, "Mom, I don't know. You were 45 and had your own life to lead." (Not the greatest response, but she was just not someone I could have gone to.) We sat quietly some more. Then she said, "You always kept things to yourself, closed off". (Yes true, out of survival.) More quiet. Then she said, "Well, I tried" referring to her efforts back then. (No, she didn't, not much if at all.)
She didn't see my tears - not back then, nor yesterday.
As I was cleaning the wineglasses we used last evening, I broke one. It was the next-to-last wineglass of a set that she really liked. I apologized, and cleaned it up. I swear I could almost hear her bring up Kazuki, as she has before. Kazuki was a prized porcelain Japanese doll/statue, maybe 15", that she received as a young child in about 1925 from an aunt who had traveled to Japan. It was a treasure, and when I was maybe 3 years old, it was on the hearth of a fireplace, and apparently I broke it. Mom has brought it up now for six decades, off and on. I am 61, and I swear that wineglass was Kazuki all over again. Those unspoken words, those old resentments. Feeling ashamed for being human. Finally, Mom's words were, "It was inevitable".
So, I have been drowning in sadness since last night. I'm trying to work through it. To allow myself to be human, to support her in these last weeks here while also supporting and shielding myself. But it's good to vent, to unburden myself, to "un-drown" myself, to "desahogar" from what has choked me.