Control or Not to Control? Hot Conversation

The aging of a parent is a remarkable chance to look at ourselves…deeply, honestly, authentically; take an inventory of who we are, and for god sakes who we want to be down the road.

Navigating this time in my mom’s life has had me promising my kids that i will  be different; less stubborn, less critical, more open minded when I am considered ELDERLY.  And I have promised to listen when they tell me I am none of those things and in fact am exactly like my mother…wanting what I want, when I want it, regardless of who is effects.

I have developed a plan for the ELDERLY stage in my own life. I will invite all of my loved ones over for a nice dinner. We will chat and reminisce and talk of their futures. I will tell each one how much I love them and kiss them eternally as I say good-bye. As soon as they are out of sight, I hobble to my car that has been packed with just what I need and a few treasures I couldn’t leave behind. Then I drive until I find a place that suits me. I figure the middle of the country, maybe Kansas. Hey, it was good enough for Dorothy. Then I would open my dream pie shop: The Slice of Life. I would bake and chat and eat all of the pie I wanted. I would welcome what came and not fight the inevitable.

In other words I want to go out on my terms, hurting those I love as little as possible. I think this makes great sense. It doesn’t impact my children with their young families; doesn’t drain anyones resources, doesn’t ceaselessly fight the forces of nature; causes less difficult decisions to be made and in a way sets my children free.

Now comes the tricky part…my mother wants nearly the same thing. She wants to stay in her home; die in her home; drive until the police tell her she can’t and eat Udderly Chocolate Ice Cream 3 times a day for as long as she is able(she is a diabetic, but has thrown caution to the wind). The daughter in me has not tolerated letting go and not trying to save her, or insure she has a better quality of life. She looks at me time and time again and just says…’please, just let me be. This is what I want… to be in control of myself, for as long as I can and for however that turns out. Please! I am as safe here as any where, but here I am content.’

I resist, I plot, I plan, I get second opinions; I grocery shop for her bringing home healthy frozen yogurt (which she won’t eat) and  leaving the Udderly Chocolate in Safeway’s freezer. She is asking, but I am not listening. I am controlling. I am controlling cause I am not ready yet. I am not ready to be in the world with out her. SELFISH, fuck yes. But a lifetime of answering  to Krissy (she is the only person in the world who calls me that), and having her stand in the driveway waving until I am out of sight: bad Norwegian jokes and story after story of how much she has loved my father. Has she been a perfect mom? OMG No…but I know once she is gone, I will not be loved like that again, as imperfect as it has been.

So I am on the verge of baking a chocolate cream pie, my favorite…swinging by Safeway for the Udderly Chocolate that is her favorite and celebrating what we love together  and  throw caution/control  to the wind together.


Posted in family & relationships, Matters That Matter.

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10 Responses

  1. Generic Image SIZZELN says

    Matters, Thanks for recognizing she wants control over her choices! You have open a very important and sticky subject. There is a balance we must come to for all concern. We are to take care of our parents, when they can not care for themselves, makes good, godly sense. Keep us updated on the goings on with her, interesting…TRACK

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    • Duffy! Duffy! says

      Hi Kristine. This was really fascinating to read, because I’ve always said I refuse to be a burden to my stepson who lives near us here in Illinois. I refuse to be a burden to any of my 3 stepchildren, but he’d be the most likely one to end up with me, and he has no patience at all.

      And then I found out that’s not going to be a problem, barring a miracle, so….. Now I worry about my husband trying to adjust to a life without me sometime in the next 5 to 10 years. Ah, life can be so crazy.

      I’m a huge believer in going out on your own terms, no matter what that may mean to each individual person. My plan used to be a retirement community somewhere where the humidity is NOT high and where the weather rarely changes. I was going to charm all the staff, as well as the other residents. Yep, I had a great plan, since statistically my husband should’ve died before me. (I guess that could technically still happen – I’m now hysterically knocking on wood.)

      I loved your last paragraph. Go with that if you possibly can, because it’s SO important to give your Mom what you’d want for yourself. I know you already know that, but it sounds like you could use some urging, so…. Find a way to back off and quit trying to be a parent to your Mom. Let her go out on her terms, help her be happy – and you’ll both be happier in the long run.

      With great sincerity, I wish you luck in this – Duffy

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  2. Generic Image Buddy says

    Absolutely, bake that pie and pick up some more of that Udderly Choc. ice cream for your sweet Mom; do it now.  I wish I could do all of this and more for my Mom, but she has been dead for two years.  Was my Mom perfect?; no way–will I ever be “loved like that again?,”–not even close.   The thing that gives me the most comfort is that I honored (most of) Mom’s wishes to the extent that it was possible for me to do so.   I really don’t think anybody can fully anticipate the entire emotional wallop of losing their Mom (assuming a decent relationship) until it’s their turn at the table, and esp. if your Mother is your last surviving parent.  Or at least I couldn’t imagine it until it was sadly my turn.   The image of your Mom standing in the driveway waving until you are out of sight; my Mom always did the same thing.  I can see her yet.  Carpe diem.

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  3. Kristine of Matters That Matter Kristine of Matters That Matter says

    Once again the power of women in community is incomparable. Thank you one and all for your support and encouragement. Each one of you has brought a feeling, or words or a story that has served me so well.

    I am grateful for it all…the sorrow, the searching the forgiveness, the ice cream. I am grateful.

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  4. Generic Image ladyhawke53 says

    This is a subject so near and dear to my heart!  My wonderful Mother (who by the way has told me repeatedly over the years that she would haunt me for eternity if I (we, including my siblings) EVER put her in a nursing home) is now going to be a permanent resident of the ‘dreaded’ nursing home.  Problem is, she doesn’t know it for certain yet.  I can’t tell her and neither my brother or sister will tell her.  Why you ask?  Because it’s breaking my heart to do this. She has some dementia and she has a disease/disorder that will progressively get worse for which there is no cure nor even a medicine that will regulate it so she is not safe in her apartment unless there is 24/7 assistance.  I’m easing into the subject by suggesting some things to bring from home to bring her comfort.  She says not to get her too comfortable because ‘she’s breaking out of this joint’ (her sense of humor is still intact even if she doesn’t mean to be humorous!)


    So yes – I am SELFISH!  I don’t want her to be there, I want my kind, generous Mother to stay who she is/was and I want her to live on her own terms!  Since I can’t guarantee her safety and well being on her home turf, I can indulge her other wants – circumstances be damned!   She LOVES blizzards from Dairy Queen – so she gets them.  I do not care what time of day it is, I do not care if it’s meal time, she gets them!   At a time when she doesn’t want to eat because nothing tastes good nor sounds good or the ‘food here is horrible’ she will eat every bite of the blizzard.  She has a taste for Hardees cheeseburgers – guess what – she gets them!  If I can get her to eat and be happy, she’s going to get whatever that is!


    So to you MattersThatMatter, I say go for it.  Indulge her whims and wishes, make her happy.  Make her memories of you in the here and now be ones of unadulterated love and listening.  I’d rather my Mother remember the indulgences than be hurt by my not allowing something she wants.  My Aunt (her baby sister) said to me, who cares if her cholesterol goes up a few points,  she’s 87!!


    Now if you or any of the other wonderful ladies on here could give me some advice on how you would handle telling her, she’s here to stay (at the nursing home)  I would be forever greatful for the wisdom and suggestions.


    Bless you all!

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    • Kristine of Matters That Matter Kristine of Matters That Matter says

      yikes…I’m with you and I understand the heart ache. I have so benefited from these conversations. and am finding a clearer path to letting my mom “go”. She wants the life she creates and all that entails, I am slowly finding the grace to surrender. Our parents make their own choices a which come with consequences…just like each of us. We are responsible for the life we create for ourselves. Aging is part of that life and therefore the situations that come with that phase. I know it is so very hard, but you and I both know this is life…I would look her in the eyes, hold her sweet hand and tell the truth. “Tell the truth, tell the truth, tell the truth”, thank you Anne Lamott.

      I will be thinking about you and sending you strength and good will.

      Blessings to you and those you love

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    • blue55 blue55 says

      You are facing one of the most difficult decisions we as daughters must face.  You mention that your mother has some dementia, how advanced is it?  This will impact how you discuss this long term situation with her.  Are you happy with the “nursing home” that your mother is in?  Also, how rapidly is her physical decline expected? 

      I ask because I have worked in the skilled nursing setting for 16 years now, and therefore assist families with this very difficult transition.  I agree with you continueing to grant her wishes as much as possible, the facility should be working with you in that respect.  Resident’s Rights come in to play here so it should never be an issue as long as it does not put her in danger. 

      Also, are you able to take her home for a leave of absence at times?  If you can give me a bit of information I may be able to offer some additional suggestions.

      Lastly,  it is so important for you to take care of yourself, as the caretaker.  As much as you want to do for mom, you will be able to do it much better if you also take care of yourself both physically and emotionally.  My prayers are with you,  if I can help just let me know.

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      • Kristine of Matters That Matter Kristine of Matters That Matter says

        Bless your heart, really. The encouragement I have received has made a difference in my outlook and ability to stay calm.

        We are making progress…mostly in the area of letting go and respecting her wishes. Not easy but for now essential.

        Again, thank you so much for your care and concern and your willingness to walk along side…


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  5. Generic Image beegee says

    Almost 4 years ago, I lost my parents. One right after the other. One suddenly, the other more painfully and drawn out. Either one left alone would not good or capable without the other. The decisions left were tough, never-ending, complex and as it turned out, needed a level head — as it turned out it, were all up to me.
    My mom went first, while my dad was in hospital.
    He was almost blind and walked but not with ease. He had told me long before that he’d “had enough.” I begged him to not give up — that we were fighters. And he heeded my call but this — this was more than he could bear and he lost his will to live — but his body had three and half months to live.
    My only deeply seeded concern at my mother’s funeral was how would I take care of dad and what would my next steps for him be. I found him an assisted living home knowing that he could never live by himself again and that he would never sleep in the home they shared again. When I told him that was the plan, he argued. He argued with all the family members that were in town for the funeral. But I knew he had no choice — I had no choice. He needed more care than I could offer.
    I will never forget the evening I walked into his hospital room and he took my hand and he was crying. It was first time in my life that I ever saw him cry.
    Through his tears he told me, “I’ve been selfish. I know that this is best if you say it is. I’ll do whatever it is you need me to do.”
    I was overwhelmed with relief and with immense sadness. At the moment, my strong father, was reduced to an obedient child (something he never was in his youth.)
    What is interesting Kristine, is that while I thought I was certain I the selfish one, he thought he was. And what matters is that in the clear dawn of day, a decision is made that will let you and your mom sleep at night knowing that you are both safe — you with your decision and she with her life.

    Enjoy your time with her, whatever that may mean.

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  6. bafun99 bafun99 says

    Hello MattersTheMatter. I recently lost my Mom 5 months ago. It was quick. We didn’t have time to adjusted to her sudden illness. After 3 weeks in the hospital, she died.  We were expecting our Dad to go first. He has cancer. My Dad made all the necessary arrangements to make sure Mom was well taken care of after his death. But, to our surprise….she had the last word.
    After several months since Mom died. I’ve move back home to take care of my father because I was the logical choice…being single. Both of my siblings have families. AND, my brother can not, CAN NOT deal with Dad’s illness and sudden death of our mother.
    One thing I learned, actually several things. You can not change their routines, their lifestyles. As hard as I tried. Providing good food, taken him places, etc. He was not happy….because it wasn’t the way it was when Mom was alive. What I’ve learn is let them be…let them live  their ways. Why make myself unhappy or stressed to make life better for him? I finally gave up or back off and accept…. this is his time, his moments, final chapter in their lives. If Dad wants Chocolate ice cream for breakfast. Fine with me. If he wants to sleep late. Fine with me. We’re actually beginning to enjoy each other company. Because I let him be…..to continue live the way how he use to live with Mom. I understand now, this is his way of dealing with his grief of losing his wife. Not my Mom! His WIFE.  And, more importantly it his way of dealing what will happened for him. I accept it. I’m grateful to understand and truly appreciate who he is. I wish, really wish I had the chance to know my Mom in that way.
    Just let them be….  After all, I want the same thing from my kids. Let me be….live the life I’ve chosen.  Enjoy your parents for the short time we have with them. Better yet…..have a laugh! AND, having Chocolate ice cream for breakfast isn’t that bad.

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