Gathering around mamma, Thanksgiving 2011

Wow!  I cannot believe that October has flown by and we’re now into the month of November.  Christmas is just weeks away around the corner and I am just not ready, emotionally or financially!    For the past 10 years we have traveled to Arizona for Christmas to be with my mother.  In fact, for almost eight of those years we’ve traveled to Arizona for Thanksgiving and Christmas.   This year, we are not going, for either holiday.  I’m really torn.  In the early years of this ritual, it was a trip to eagerly anticipate.  I knew there would be wonderful food and interesting conversation and the novelty of Arizona and all the beauty of the desert was fresh and exciting (it still is).  But mamma has gone downhill in a variety of ways–much of which, in my humble opinion, is self-imposed.  I truly am not trying to pass judgement here.  Yes….I realize that mamma isn’t a spring chicken anymore, but at 76, I don’t think she is ancient either!  I’ve cycled and ran–long distances– with people older than her and they are amazing both physically and intellectually.  While I have not walked completely in her shoes (as the saying goes) I have come pretty darned close.  After all, I am her daughter!  Let there me no misunderstanding, I love my mamma with all my heart!  And yes, I have seen her through some very awful times.

Its been a couple of years now; I’ve sort of given up.  Way too  much to pour out in this entry (I’ll need lots of time for that!)….I find that I have absolutely no power in changing the situation (no power to change mamma’s situation, that is…and it’s spotty at best when it comes to me!).  Moreover, I am not 20 anymore.  I’m getting older too…. I tire more easily, my knees are trashed and make me crankier on some days, and it’s simply harder to be chief cook and bottle-washer for anyone…mamma included.  You see, mamma wants to be taken care 150% which is one of the reasons she has succumbed to being a virtual shut-in in her home.  Yes, she has had a couple of health set-backs but nothing that would account for her current state of being…nearly an invalid.  Her muscles have turned to mush from inactivity.  She doesn’t want to read anymore or do any of the things that once brought her a measure of contentment. Her depression is dark and dreary and all-consuming.  Again, I’m not being completely judgmental here….really.  I’ve been in a dark place before and probably will again –though I fight it harder than ever the older I get.  And, wouldn’t we all like to be catered too in the manner of a queen?  Massages, personal shopping, house keeping, errands galore, preparing daily meals….etc., etc., etc.  I’d love to have that kind of life just for a day….well, OK….maybe a week or two….tops.

I’m not living close to mamma for reasons  mostly out of my control (“we go where the job takes us mamma.”) so I am not able to take care of my mother’s day-to-day needs and certainly, I cannot care for her in the manner of old Italian tradition where the adult kids still live at home or virtually next door and care for their aging parents until the end of life.  I do what I can; I call her nearly every day–I have for years– and I’ve traveled to be with her for all the important holidays every year, for years.  Still, I will admit to feeling the catholic and mamma guilt quite strongly though I am trying to fight it tooth and nail.  You see, mamma could have always come my way for a holiday (or any day of the year for that matter).  For a variety of reasons (both known and unknown) she has made the choice not to visit me (her oldest daughter) even when I lived less than an hour away by a Southwest Airlines flight.

Yes, it makes me sad…OK….resentful and sometimes even downright angry. Our relationship could have been so much richer.  She is missing out on so much of life with her daughters and her grandchildren…or with anyone!  My  heart breaks for all of us.   I mourn what could have been…what should have been.  And yes, I cannot do much about it except accept……

Yep…for all those naysayers out there, for the most part I do accept what is (and isn’t) when it comes to my mamma but again…if I haven’t said it before….I will now, again…..I am only human.  I have not evolved to that state of detached being; the one where I should release all emotions and “let it go” as any of the popular psycho-babblers suggest I must to do in order to be happy and at peace with  my life.  We all have emotional baggage to some degree or another….so folks…cast not one stone if you please!

So…with a heavy sigh (or “cleansing” breath as I like to think of it) I put one foot in front of the other each day on this journey to find more of a balance with all this emotional baggage that I’m schlepping around.  I try to shed an ounce or two of that emotional weight…even though it seems the scales tip too far in the heavier direction on some days more than others.   When I do have a moment of feeling a lightened load, I treasure it….It’s usually when I am out doing something physical and my mind is able to focus on the moment instead of the past or future.  Or, it’s when I do have a good conversation with my mamma and she seems more like her former self (at least over the phone).  After such a call, I feel that everything is going to be alright. I’m buoyed by the positivity in mamma’s voice and it makes me feel so…well…relieved.   But then I realize this kind of sea-saw relationship with my mamma has been the foundation of our lives together.  Up and down…back and forth, tumultuous….dramatic…..

My heart feels heavy when I think of it all.  So I must give it up now….now I yell in my head!

So…..

How about a walk with my dog?!  Yes!  He’s wearing his GOP “Shirt” that my sis coaxed me into purchasing during one of my visits to Washington D.C.  At the time I just couldn’t think when my poodle would wear such a shirt.  But again, my sis was brilliant!  Now IS the perfect time and I cannot believe I nearly didn’t follow through with her suggestion.

Brando in his GOP shirt….

makes me smile…makes me laugh… and has gotten my head in a better place as the sun starts to warm up this chilly November morning.  And after that?

….well a mountain of leaves to rake in the back yard and getting myself pretty again to welcome hubby home for one day before he takes off again.