So my Mom can be a bit exasperating. For instance, she phones me just after I've been hooked up to the IV to tell me she can't get the TV to work. The Shaw remote confuses her: there's a "TV" button and a "Cable" button and instead of turning the TV on, she'll sometimes turn the cable OFF, then not understand what's happened. The TV will be on, but she won't get a picture. I try to leave it set up properly for her but she is kind of unskilled with it: she will grab it, for instance, to turn up the volume, instead turn it all the way down, curse "shit!" and then fumble to get her thumb into the right place, often turning the volume down lower in the process. Stroke stuff - a lot of her know-how went out the window with her language functions. And, you know, she lived her whole life with two remote-hogging men, grew up in a time when women being handy was discouraged and dependency encouraged, etc. (My father did pretty much everything for her, and then, when she had her stroke and became even more dependent, played a bit of a cruel prank on me by dying. Thanks, Dad!).
Anyhow, I spent half an hour, hooked to an IV, surrounded by an audience of other people hooked to IV's, trying to help her find the "cable" button on the remote control by phone. "Is the yellow light on the cable box on?" No. "Okay, do you see the big red power button on the top right corner of the remote?" After some prompting and rephrasings, "yes." "Do you see just below that that there's a button marked CBL? Find that, point it at the cable box, wait til the light turns on, then press the TV button BESIDE the CBL button to turn the power on on the TV."
We never got to the point that she could even find the cable button. And she's done this many, many times before, over the phone, calling me at work, calling me in bed, calling me as I'm walkin' down the street somewhere. Usually we get'er done soon enough, but not today. Someone at the hospital eventually suggested, "maybe she could read a book?"
When I reminded her that I was in the hospital and that she could maybe ask a neighbour, her reaction was, literally, "I forgot."
I mean, I'm sleeping on her couch this week, while being treated. She sees me leaving for the hospital every day, and coming home all bandaged up. That wouldn't necessarily stop her, though: because she broke her salt shaker the other day, and asked me to pick her up a new one, as I was limping out the door.
Maybe she could do that herself, I suggested? There's a loonie store not two blocks from here. She's been to it with me on a dozen occasions, because it's where we get her cookies (the cheapest Fudgee-o's and Oreos and Chips Ahoy in Maple Ridge, usually, at $2.65 a bag). I'm really not doing that well right now, maybe she could be a little... independent?
Anyhow, one of many dark thoughts that went through my head yesterday, as I went through codeine withdrawal and IV therapy and suffered my reactive arthritis, was that maybe it's time Mom goes into a home. If she can't remember her son is in the hospital, if she can no longer even find the three buttons she needs on the remote to operate her TV, maybe it's no longer okay for her to live independently. At times like this, when I'm half-incapacitated, she's kind of helpless, it seems.
But guess what? I got home and a) she had fixed the TV all by herself and b) she had gone out and got a salt and pepper set, and not even at the store I recommended, but by a thrift store I sometimes take her to, when we go for coffee. It's a pretty nice set, too! She hasn't made an independent go-shopping-and-buy-something venture into the world for months, so this is pretty affirming.
Oh: and she did my laundry! She's still my Mom, bless her.