Sunday, January 23, 2011

No calls = a lot of guilt!

I feel awful.  I have not talked with my Mom since December 26 - that's nearly a full month - and I feel terribly guilty because I've not tried harder to reach her.  I have called but when I don't get her on the phone, it's almost a relief - then I feel guilt over the sense of relief.

My mom's not terrible to talk with but talking with her for more then a few minutes is a lot of work. She can't hear the phone ring so to reach her I must call the nurses station and ask that they transfer the call then send someone down to answer the phone for her.  Once I get her on the phone, she's excited and wants to tell me all kinds of things - usually it's the same 3-4 things that she says again and again.   She tries to ask about me but she can't hear my replies so then she begins telling me how much she dislikes "this place" and she asks to return to assisted living.  She's also started saying, "I wish I could be home but...." and she trails off.   At least she realizes that she's in no shape to live  in her little house.  After about 10 minutes on the phone her voice sounds a little farther away - it's my cue that she's let the phone slip down to her cheek or neck and doesn't realize it.   She just keeps talking and I try to yell - literally SCREAM - to put the phone to her ear, that I must go, that she can't hear me... anything to try to get her attention so I can say good bye. 

She has a pattern - I have to tell her in 3's that I need to get off the phone.  Usually she's willing to let go in the first 3 attempts but lately, it's harder to get off the phone politely.   I have to say, I've got to go now, over an dover..  She hears me each time but asks just one more question.. so I hang in there and keep talking.   I don't want to be rude and I don't want her to think that I've hung up on her. 

I have all kinds of "reasons" why I can't  call - I can't call from work, the boss will get mad and I can't yell at her from my cubicle.   I can't call too late or too early from  home because my yelling will disturb the neighbors. I can't call in the morning because the staff is too busy getting everyone up and to breakfast then back again.  so, I don't call and the guilt remains.  I know it would do her a lot of good to hear from me.  It's one of the few things that she'd enjoy but, dammit, I hate yelling into the phone.  I hate hearing the same complaints all the time.  I hate that she asks for things that I can't do or can't provide.

These are all symptoms of a greater issue - I hate that my mom has to live in a nursing home.  I hate that they don't give a damn about her quality of life.  I hate that the staff is too small.  I hate that I can't move to her home town and live with her and tend to her.   The guilt over the phone calls is a component of a larger, more hurtful matter - I want to help her, I want to make her happy, I want to spend loving time with her but I can't afford it.  All I can do is spend a weekend here and there and try from afar to what I can.   It's not enough to make her happy or me guilt free but it will have to do.