Thursday, July 14, 2005

House Hunting & Worry & Radiation

Mom and Dad bicker. They have much displaced anger. Dad is still sleeping for hour and hours during the day and Mom gets angry with him for this. They are both angry about the way in which their lives have changed. I wish, in hindsight, we could have had therapy for them. My daughter suggested marriage therapy. Therapy will do much to help them understand the normal process of aging. They cannot come to terms with the aches and pains of old age. They were such active members of the community until now. They spent hours serving at the church bazarre, singing in the choir or working at the Bala Cranberry Festival. Now they are limited by how far Mom can drive and how long Dad can stand up with a shopping cart. It is incredibly frustrating for them, but they take it out on each other.

Mom always has issues with things being ‘just so’. In some ways it is bordering on obsessive-compulsive disorder; everything has to be just so. It is what gives her colitis, and her worries are based on keeping up with this notion of perfection. Obsessed with cleanliness, the house has to be immaculate. There are complicated rules around entertaining, how the house should look, where everything should go and how the table should be set. When we visit, anything we brought in from the cottage into the house has to be set by the door in order to be returned promptly to the other building. This obsession is obvious for all of her life, until her last month, but I digress.

Mom is to have radiation treatments since a tumour has come back. She tells me not to worry and that she is confident that this will do it. She has a lymph node taken out at the same time as the last lump. They wanted to prevent the cancer cells from metastasizing in her body. I cannot stay due to my other commitments. They managed, somehow, with neighbours picking up the slack. I do not know how they kept it up other than determination to stay in their own home. They cannot walk down to the lakeshore anymore. Dad cannot drive.

They call in all of their favours from neighbours. Neither of them can manage to take the garbage up the hill to where it has to be placed. Our neighbour does this chore for them every week. There is no way to repay such kindness. It is a difficult life and I find it rough watching them. If only they will accept help or move to a retirement home. The Cancer Society volunteer drivers continued to get them to and from Toronto appointments – we cannot have managed it otherwise.

What I would have liked to have known is how ill they really were. The neighbours enabled them to remain here, when it was well past their ability to manage the property emotionally, psychologically, and physically. Neighbours need to communicate with family members and let them know what is going on.

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