Several years ago my mother began saying the things that parents begin saying, about how everything that was hers is actually mine, and how this one antique is mine, that piece of furniture is mine, etc. Being her only child, it was kind of a given, but this was something she wanted to talk about when ever she got into that taboo-topic-of-funk, which was quite often…
Then, a few years later we made a trip down to see her because she had a double mastectomy. While we were there, my husband decided to play handyman around her house. This meant he had to go into the tool shed which had once been my step dad’s. These tools hadn’t been used in years. My husband was amazed at what lay in there and said something to my mom about a few of the things. She immediately grew irate about how these were her tools and we could not have them, when she was dead then we could have them. (Two key things to note: 1- my mom, bless her heart, is a possessor. She loves to own, collect and have things. Her things. 2- no one asked her for the mentioned tools, my tool-loving husband merely said something like “Hey mom, you’ve got some nice *insert tool names here* out there.”)
Was he hurt? Meh. We’re used to the often abrasive and totally unpredictable way she can be. It will all a bit silly and we’ve learned to just laugh to ourselves, shake our heads a bit and move on.
The ironic thing is, we’ve spent the last 10 months turning our lives completely upside down so that my mom has somewhere nurturing and safe to live that is not a nursing home. At her insistence, we’ve entered into a risky mortgage and the levels of stress we’ve taken on are beyond high. We did all of this willingly because we believe it’s the right thing to do. Throughout this time she is sorting her things and selling them, etc. Except for one or two things it hasn’t been an issue because I am not much of a possessor/collector… One thing she has been adamant about though was having my husband come down to New Mexico to go through my step dad’s tools to see what he wanted. Finally they agreed this could be done over the phone and the date was set for this past weekend. Imagine my mother’s shock when she went out to the shed to find most of those tools gone…
On one hand we’re grateful we didn’t spend money we don’t have on a plane ticket for nothing. On the other hand we’re sitting thousands of miles away facing the reality that someone has been robbing my unwell, living alone mother, for God knows how long. She admitted the shed hadn’t been locked in “quite a long time”, and all we can think, as she continues opening her home to people while selling her things and downsizing is “what happens next? Will they grow bolder?”
A few years ago, Chw tried to tell my mom she had some really nice tools out there. Rather than sell them, or share them with someone who could use them, she kept them hidden away because they were hers. What could have blessed her financially or through other ways now only leaves her vulnerable and a victim. It’s much like this move situation… 18 months ago she knew she needed to start preparing for the “next phase” of no longer living alone, but she chose, after a fresh bout of depression, to ignore it. When the topic came up again last summer, we were called to action and she agreed enthusiastically to move here UNTIL we bought a house dependent upon her coming (the sale of the home she lives in, that we own) and she changed her mind. She has since changed her mind again and agreed to come, but set so many stipulations that are NEVER going to be met, and time is running out. We’ve made it very clear to her the damage she is causing and she tunes it out, like a child. Once again, she keeps herself in a vulnerable situation where she will end up either forced into a facility or seriously injured from a fall beforehand. (there have been some close calls the past couple of months already.) She should be TERRIFIED not to move forward, but she isn’t.
And I want to shake her and knock some sense into her, but isn’t she just human? Don’t we all have things in our lives where we do know better but we still pretend otherwise? We text while driving, we drink while driving, we smoke, we eat unhealthy, we cheat on our spouses. We __________. (For the record, I’m not saying I do ANY of those things, nor am I saying that because I don’t, that I’m any better than someone who does.) We all don’t make the choices that are in our best interest, in the moment, because it feels easier to stick with the familiar and we love easy… but the result is a lot of the time we hurt ourselves SO much more in the long run. We have all the tools we need to make our lives better, and yet we choose our unhealthy ruts 9 out of 10 times.