As you know my mom is on her way next week to visit my grandma. At the moment, Uncle is in Spain for 4 days having a break....and my other uncle is looking after my grandmother. She seems to be doing well, but still in and out of these crying spells. Uncle #2 also does not talk to any of the 3 sisters anymore. I think he's tired of being the only one to help Uncle #1 and he's fed up with them.
Anyways, tonight when my mom got home there was a message from one of the sisters on her answering machine. First in probably about 8 months lets say. She left the message actually for my father, not my mom.....asking him to "please" ask my mom, to call my uncle, to find out how their mother is because she is just so worried. Can you believe this??????
At first I asked my mom....does she think that her sister is having regrets? That maybe she needs to try make amends......if that is the case, no matter what, for my grandmas sake, she should see her if that's what she wants. I hate the idea of my grandma leaving this earth thinking her 3 daughters hate her. I could care less about my aunt, but I would give her the information she's looking for if it helped my grandma. I encouraged my mom to call her back, and keep the conversation "civil".
She listened to the message again, but before that one, was one from my uncle last week, at 3 in the morning their time......just sounding so exhausted.....and of course with the sound of my grandma crying in the background. His message said he was so very tired....and it was 3AM, very dark and cold out and he felt so lonely and miserable, again this is with grandma crying in the background. So my mom says " when I listened to his message, I thought of the 3 sisters, all living 5 minutes away, sleeping peacefully in their beds?" What right do they have to know how she is now? What right at all? They've put her and my uncles and my mom for that matter through hell.....and now they come asking how my grandma is? They live 5 minutes away. Walk into the house and see for yourself. They are like children blaming all this bitterness on my uncle. They can say what they want, but even if they wanted to hate him, for whatever reason, they could still find a way to see her. They've created this....they walked away.......
Ladies...what do you think of this? My mom is going to call Uncle #2 and ask his opinion in the morning, and then decide whether or not to call her back. This sister that called actually is the one who is classic for twisting peoples words, and causing more anxiety within the family. She's caused alot of trouble telling tales.....personally she told lies about me, and caused a break up of my relationship with my cousin. She's also my "godmother".
What a mess!
What does she want? If they dont care about her, why is she asking? They just want to visit once in a blue moon, and bring some fruit. Dont want any part in giving the woman any kind of care, or love.....why should we give them information about her?
First you have to know that your Grandmother is not going to remember. She cries for the little babies that she had.... not the adults that are in conflict. Even if all of the siblings showed up together she would still grieve for the loss of her little babies. So the family situation is is not the cause of your grandmother's grief.
My mother cries regularly. She get angry frequently. She rants and raves with occassionally. I have been there, sister 2 is there now, sisters 3 and 4 have been there as well. Yet she still rants and raves and cries and gets angry. It makes not difference if we sisters are squabbling or not. She still rants and raves and cries and gets angry. She is where she is in her mind. She doesn't have a clue what is going on in our reality because she is stuck in her own planet alzheimer reality.
As for the siblings...... YOU CAN"T FIX THEIR PROBLEMS!!!!! Your uncle is getting a break. Uncle 2 is with your grandmother. Your mother is going there next week. Your mother has to make her choice as to what to do about the phone call. If she wants to consult with Uncle 2 then that's fine. Then it is their decision to make. They are adults. Let them handle their own messes. My best advice to you is stay out of it! Take care of yourself and that precious cargo you are carrying. Refer back to paragraph one. Your grandmother is where she is in her mind and family relationships are a sideline of chaos rather than the reason. If they feel the need to fight.. let them. You don't have to be a part of it.
Now take a deep breath, wrap it all up in your towel, and hide it somewhere for a while. They will figure it out
Caroline - a thought struck me when you described the behavior of that sister who called.
Is it possible that SHE, like her aged mother, has Alzheimer's Disease? The fact that she twists people's words and makes trouble sounds like 'something' is mentally wrong with her. Maybe she has been telling lies and untruths to the other nearby sisters for years, and they have believed her, and that is at the root of all the family's drama.
As Deb said - you can't fix it. But you can ignore it. You can advise your Mom (who also seems unable to leave you out of these dilemmas) to see what she can do while she is there, not by phone. I'm glad the one uncle is helping the other one.
Let us be kind and call them a ''dysfunctional family!" You are not a psychiatrist and even if you were, a family member is not advised to treat another. Let them figure out their own grievances. As Deb said, your Granny won't really know the difference, not any more. I doubt if she believes her daughters hate her. More likely she doesn't remember having any daughters. As you said, if they want to know how she is, they can go and see!
Thanks for the dose of reality, I needed it......and you're right, I always get pulled into this. My mom really has no one else to talk to, other than myself or my dad....she has no friends, the only ones she had were her sisters, and they are out of reach now. So that's why I hear all the "details". I think you're all right, and she should not even acknowledge this call.
I'm not sure my aunt has ALZ, but I know she's certainly got some control issues....if I"m being honest, my mother is a lesser version of her (did I say that?), not as bad though.
It makes sense that grandma calls out for her babies.....not for the fighting siblings....but there are still times, when she calls their names. She's fighting a battle within herself......one moment she'll say "Oh Jesus, why do they hate me, - please someone go and get them".....and then a minute later, she'll say "to hell with them all, if they dont want me, they can stay away". I still think she has some semblance of what they've done to her.
In reading your reactions....I am glad my mom didnt call......and maybe her instinct was right not to call.......I'll advise her to leave it at that, and then I'll let it go. Deb, you are right, I cant fix their problems!
Ladies, thanks for the towel, and for being there for me......."again".......
Love to you all,
P.S. Actually Martha, you are right about that aunt....I do believe 100% her lies and stretched truths are at the root of our family drama, as I firsthand know what she did to my relationship with my cousin. I had a conversation with her, I was upset and asked her for help as I was worried about some test results with my mom, and she told my cousin I yelled at her. I didnt, I was just emotional.....he got upset with me, told me I was out of line, and we went from there. The words between us still play in my head to this day. We havent spoken in two years, and he was like a brother to me.
She's also always a "victim".....when she came for her brothers funeral here in Canada, she tells us she has 6 tumors in her back. Meanwhile, we have just buried my uncle from a brain tumor, and my mom has just undergone radiation for the second occurence of breast cancer. Of course my aunt had no tumors in her back, but she just has to always be the "worst off", or the most to be pitied.........yes, as I keep writing this, she doesnt deserve a return phone call........
How difficult this has to be that you are so far away! This horrendous disease is notorious for splitting up families. It certainly has done this with mine.
Soon after Mom's diagnosis, and placing her in the Alzheimer's facility, the youngest of my 4 brothers started a "family webpage" with the purpose of helping all 6 of us (plus the grandchildren) keep track of how she was doing. For the first couple years, this (free!) page proved a wonderful tool for us all! Each of us posted often...every visit we made was shared so all could keep track. Splitting up Mom's possessions split up the 6 of us...and before long...I was the only poster. Of course...I am her only visitor also. For the last 8 years, it has been unusual for someone besides me to add to the page.........but I DO do it! Somehow, I find it healing to go home from a visit and write down how Mom is. I see the little counter at the bottom of the page go up...so I know my siblings check each week. There is absolutely no way they can be unaware of her condition.
Thank goodness for my sister (who lives across the country)...she and I keep in constant contact...and, because she knows what brought about my family's situation...each challenge can be shared.
Perhaps if your family could use an idea like this....where each person has the opportunity to be involved...(whether they wanted to or not...their choice)...communication might easily improve.
If I were your Mom...I'd probably call the Sister back and play her the recording with Uncle trying to talk over Grandma's cries. There is no way that any of us can truly know what is going on in each other's lives...and perhaps Martha is right that your Aunt is suffering from more than you know.
This disease robs us all.......................Pam
Thanks Pam for your reply......your website idea sounds great. Sadly, I dont believe it would work for us, mostly because my aunts dont own computers, but even if they did, we are past the point of being able to communicate. They live 5 minutes from my grandma, and they have only themselves to blame for not knowing how she is. They know she's ill, and that's the bottom line. One time my uncle was so desperate for sleep that he took my grandmother to her house and wanted to leave her there, it was around 11 at night. She wouldnt answer the door, and so my uncle got really upset and started yelling. She was mortified that he did this for her neighbours to hear, but never once let her mother through her door, although she sat sobbing in the car. The next morning she went to the police station and tried to charge my uncle with harassment. The man was so desperately exhausted, he was at his wits end, and she's trying to "charge" him for demanding help from someone who is her daughter as much as he is her son. This is only one incident.
What I've learned is that yes, my uncle has lost his temper on many occasions with them.....but they created what he is. They created it by leaving him 24/7 with this illness. With no sleep....with no help. He was never the way he is today. He was fine at first, but then he started to get angry, and instead of realizing he needed help, and the anger was coming from pure frustration and exhaustion, they now accuse him of keeping them away from their mother. He has begged them to help.....and they were willing to give an hour a day of their time to "visit", and not to care. Anyone who knows a dementia patient knows that if they need help, it is at night time which is when all hell can break loose.......
The one thing I am angry at this aunt for, is that her husband for the last two years, was ill with a stroke, and she cared for him. What little help from the family she got came from my grandma and uncle. The rest of them abandoned her.....and now she is in all tight with them again. She of all should know what it is like to be alone with someone, caring for them, having no life of your own. Yet she has left my uncle to do this........
I am really glad that my mom hasnt called her back........whatever she decides today, will be up to her, but my opinion, she deserves nothing..........she made her bed.......as the saying goes.....
Ahhhhhh....how true, how true! None of us are how we "used" to be!
When my Mom was first diagnosed, 3 brothers an hour away decided to move her from the town we grew up in...where I still live. Of 6 kids, I'm the only one who remained in this area. Living here made me and my family much closer to Mom than the other siblings...and also put responsibility on me they didn't realize. Their thought was that they would be able to see her daily...one lives 1/4 mile away...one 10 min...one 15 min. This idea worked fine for almost a year...then what still remains difficult for ME to do each week (visit her) became too hard for all of them. Even the "far-away" siblings make no attempt to visit her........ever.
What this disease has done physically and mentally to me is very different than my siblings! Every one of us have had challenges during Mom's 10 years in the Alzheimer's facility........but WHEW! One brother in particular has caused such difficulties that our family has little contact with each other. It used to be me who hosted every holiday dinner and summer picnics...and how I miss them!
STRESS!! My body's reaction to life's circumstances sometimes seem overwelming.......posting and reading here makes me realize I'm sure not alone! Each of us have stories of health issues this has caused...and I resent the time it has taken from us..............but those of us who have made the choice to stay near our loved one have been made strong in many ways we don't even realize just yet!!!
Hang in there...and hold on!.....................Pam
I agree with Pam... none of us are like we were. We have internalize all that has happened and we change. It is what makes us grow or become angry and bitter.
My close knit family is fraying around the edges. One sister doesn't talk to another and only argues with another. Another sister wants to stay out of it. Some are trying fix it and some are just clueless. Family get togethers are strained. Right now it is all balanced on a thin line and could go either way. It's all about the choices each makes in how they react to the situation.
STRESS!!! WOW.... It was in the process of wrecking my health.
I have found it beneficial to realize that I can not fix it!! I can not make Mom and Dad better. I can not make my sisters think or act the way I want them to. I can not fix the dissention between them. I can only do what I think is best. I can do all I can for Mom and Dad with or without my sister's blessings. It is not about them... it is about Mom and Dad. I can deal with each sister by accepting who and what they are..... and not get involved in their squabbles.
I haven't perfected it yet and at times I do get sucked into the vortex but I don't give up.