Monday, February 23, 2009

Haunted by Hoarding

This afternoon I find myself exhausted and in a different time zone, three hours earlier to be exact. I'm in a Starbucks. There's no Internet where I'm staying, Mom's place. She's in the skilled nursing facility still.

Yesterday I traveled over 2000 miles, starting early in the morning and ending up on my mother's dark doorstep and empty house. The airport shuttle dropped me off at what for me was close to midnight. Thirsty, hungry and tired, I tried the key in the door. It worked for one lock, but the deadbolt did not budge. My heart sank. I was so looking forward to some rest. I called Frank, Mom's boy friend neighbor.

"The person you are calling is not available." No option for voice mail. What good would voice mail have done for me, stuck outside an empty house 2000 miles from home?

I tried her other friend. She answered.

"Give me a chance to put some shoes on. I'll be right there," she said.

Once inside, she said she had to go. Good. I was in no mood for social chit chat. Relieved, I thanked her.

I went to the bedroom that Frank and I had spent days cleaning up in October. To my horror boxes of old shoes, books, and nicknacks encircled the bed and a mountain of clothes covered the bed. Yes, the bed I intended to sleep in. I found a stash of used Kleenx. In a laundry, basket near the door to that bedroom were used... well suffice to say, it was disgusting. In the kitchen, I found more signs of Mom's hoarding. In one of the cabinets, she had stacked the neatly-folded white paper bags that Meals-on-Wheels delivered her lunches in. Beside those were stacked used zip locks bags obviously also saved from those same meals.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Turkey on Rye

I feel like a slice of turkey on rye bread, a piece of a dumb bird stuck in the middle. Here I am, preparing to leave for California. This is not a pleasure trip mind you. I shall spend my waking hours attended to my mother's needs. Meanwhile, I leave my 14-year-old son and my husband behind. I must take leave from work. My plans are to be back the day before my son's 15th birthday. Also, I shall return to work the next night for a 12 hour shift.

My son is active in skating and music. I want to be present for him in these last years before he leaves the nest. There's bills to pay, laundry to do, housekeeping chores and the list goes on. On the other side of the continent, my mother languishes in a nursing home with a broken knee. I am responsible for her welfare and all that entails. There is no one else to share that burden as I am an only child.

Am I stressed? Yes. When I think of all the things I must accomplish I feel overwhelmed. I am pulled in so many directions. Yet, there are many people who are much worse off then myself. People who do not have jobs or are deathly ill. People who are starving. What do I have to complain about?