Friday, September 30, 2011

The cruelty of dementia

It's been a couple weeks (almost) since my mom fell and the hoopla happened. I called my mom a few times the weekend after it happened and left her messages. Then I called her last weekend and she answered. I asked her how she was and she said things have been crazy and she hasn't been doing very well, but she's better now.

I asked her what happened and she replied "I fell a few times last week and was in the hospital."

"You fell again?" I asked.

"No, just last week. I had to have a colonoscopy and the stuff they gave me to get ready made me SO sick." She replied.

"You had another colonoscopy?" I asked.

"No, never again."

"So when did you fall?" I ask, getting confused.

"A few days ago, but your sister came over and checked on me and took me to the hospital. They ran some tests, but I'm fine." She says.

"So you were in the hospital AGAIN?" I'm practically yelling, because I feel like she's not hearing me.

"No just a few days ago." And my mom proceeds to tell me the whole story of her tests, her bad reaction to the meds, her falling, and everything that happened all over again, like I didn't know about it and like it had just happened a few days before.

It finally hit me in that moment - this the beginning of her dementia.

We all knew my mom was forgetful, she forgot where she parked her car in the mall parking lot and security would drive her around until she found it. If you told me mom a story about something that happened, she would tell it back to you (incredibly embellished) the next day like it happened to someone else. When you said, "yea, I told you this yesterday" she would reply "No you didn't. I heard this from so and so."

And that was that. I found it easier to just listen that to argue.

She had a brain hemorrhage two years ago and spent some time in the neuro Intensive Care Unit, for surgery and recovery. And now my mom's memory is bad, and she tells wildly crazy versions of simple events that I mentioned to her, and she goes on and on and will argue to the bitter end that she is right. Her memories of things that happened 20 years ago are so twisted up that when she talks about them, I can't make any sense of what she's talking about. Sometimes, it makes me feel like I'm the forgetful one, like I just don't have any clear memories of growing up.  I mean, my mom talks about this stuff like it is Gospel truth and when I question it, she gets upset.  And then we argue, because she really wants me to remember and I just don't. Not the way that she does and then my mom says things that hurt my feelings. Yet, I keep calling because she is my mom.

I realized today that the woman I knew as my mom is gone. I can talk to her now and tell her things, listen to her and laugh with her but as soon as the she hangs up the phone she's either forgotten I called her or refashioned our conversation into another story entirely.

I will never be able to sit on the couch and talk with her for hours (because I get too frustrated and she gets too tired), I will never take her to Ireland to see her family there, and someday I will call her and she won't even know who I am.

This is the part that sucks.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Today, I'm just plain pissed off

So my Facebook posting resulted in a private message from someone who is a good friend of my sister's. She told me that my sister told everyone on FB who asked why we weren't friends anymore that I was upset with her because she and her family were too financially strapped to come to my wedding.


So now there will always be that who-said-what thing going on. My sister made me look petty and cruel, when I was actually relieved that she wasn't coming to my wedding. It has been difficult for me to even be around her in the last two years and I've been swallowing down my anger every time I see her. I knew her family was having some financial difficulties, though I had no idea how bad. She had told me they might not make it to my wedding and I asked that she give me as much notice as possible so I could re-arrange. She told me three months before.

I suppose the fact that I never replied to her message and then unfriended her on Facebook led her to assume that I was upset that she wasn't coming to the wedding, when in reality, I was just relieved that I didn't have to swallow down more anger while she was around.

But as usual, she spins her own story, much like her memoir, and lies about the people who don't hover around her in orbit. I tried to hover, I really did, but I'm so glad I don't anymore.

The biggest issue today for me is that my mom fell a couple times last week. My sister sent the message to me through my kids (way to be like my ex-husband), and so I called my mom and checked in and then sent an email message to all three of my kids letting them know that they don't need to pass on messages anymore. I told them that I don't want them to be in the middle of another battle. I told them I would call my mom a couple of times a week and keep myself informed about her health and her life.

And not a single one of my kids even replied to my email.

So today, I'm pissed, I'm tired, I'm lonely and I'm wondering why I put myself out there to anyone. Really? I guess I have to admit that subconsciously I wanted to hear soemthing from my kids. Maybe a thanks! Or a "we stand by you, Mom, no matter what." But I got nothing.

Today is one of those days where I would tell my therapist that I'm feeling so out-of-sorts that I want to buy a plane ticket to a far away country and just drop off the map of everyone's lives. Then they can go "hey, where is Rory?" And wonder why I left.

I put far too much of my life in other people hands and hearts. It's time to stop doing that with everybody.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Next day feelings and thoughts

Regret hung from the hem of everyone's lives, a rip cord reminder that what you want is not always what you get. At some time or another, everyone was failed by this world. Disappointment was the one thing humans had in common. Taken this way [I don't] feel quite so alone. Trapped in the whirlpool of what might have been, you might not be able to drag yourself out - but you could be saved by someone else who reached in.
- from Second Glance by Jodi Picoult

I've had almost 24 hours since I got my letter back in the mail with the nasty note from my sister that she didn't read it. I've been pissed, sad, furious, vindictive, vengeful, hopeful, happy and have settled on quietly disappointed.

I think that feeling will change as the days go by, as I talk it all out with my therapist and as my mom continues to try and talk about my sister like I'm feeling bad that I missed out on all her life's juicy gossip. I've tried asking my mom not to talk about her, but she still does.

Do I have regrets? About some things in my life certainly, about this....I don't know yet. I guess I should have said something to my sister before her book was even published. But I've spent the better part of my adult life not speaking to her and so I suppose, I didn't want to say anything to her because I figured she would get mad at me again and quit talking to me again.

My experience with "sisterhood" has been incredibly disappointing. I know friends of mine have great relationships with their sisters, they can say anything and there is still love and support and hugs and laughter. I sometimes wish I could have had that with my sister, but instead I just remind myself that I have that kind of relationship with dear friends of mine and that is enough.

I posted my sister's cruel note to me on Facebook and I've received a lot of support, some from people I never expected. And, as always, My Baby B has been so wonderful.

I know he wonders why it has to be like this and he really wants to know why my sister is so mad at me, but he'll never get those answers. I also think that he feels badly that he won't ever see my sister's husband again. They liked each other and they got along really well. With no reason to visit anymore, that is a friendship he'll let go of.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Oh the hypocrisy!!

My sister wrote a memoir and it was published in November of 2009. She put her real name on the cover and my real name and the real names of my mom and dad in the book. To say the least, it has fragmented our family. The story of how we (my sister and I) got to this post-it note today is long.

I think it starts with me not calling her right after I read her book and apologizing for my actions that led to her oh-so-difficult life, because ... hey ... my life hasn't been a cake walk and no one is reaching out to apologize to me, mainly because I'm taking responsibility for my life and my choices.

But my sister wrote about people we went to high school with and she changed the names; ya know, Brook became Becky and that sort of thing. And apparently, those ladies have called my sister after reading the book and they have apologized for their actions that led to her oh-so-difficult life. Good for them.

I didn't. Because I was, honestly, too shocked at the crap in the book about me. She made me and my mom and dad look small, weak, and sheep-like. She made terrible fun of us and she was most hard on my mom. Poor thing. And I mean that.

My dad and I did not call and apologize. I don't feel like I need to. I have enough crap in my life to handle without apologizing for someone else's crap. Any who.

The results ....

My sister sent my dad and email and "relieved him of his parental obligation." She told him she didn't need a father anymore and she never wanted to hear from him again.

But I had spent the time between November 2009 and this last April 2011 just sort of humming along. I talked to my sister less, I texted her less and I stopped commenting on anything she wrote on Facebook about her book. In fact, when her book first came out, I got some gnarly private messages from people, so I dropped off the FB for a few months.

I suppose, I could have called my sister and said some things, things like "I am deeply hurt by the book and the lies about me in the book and I don't think I can ever forgive you for writing it, much less printing it with my real name in it. And most importantly, I will never be able to forget that the book is out there and that you thought so little of me that you wrote about me like I was less than....And so our relationship is forever changed."

I didn't say that. I didn't say anything.

And it affected us.

So in April of this year, my sister sent me a private message on Facebook. Among the highlights, she and her family decided not to come to my wedding. But the best part - the part that pissed me off:

I have come to a point in my life where I am going to be selfish--I have to be--I think you can understand that better than anyone. Selfish isn't necessarily a bad thing--it just means that when I am hurt, I am going to voice it; I am not going to make something a priority when it will end up having a negative impact on my life; and I can no longer be the one who gives and doesn't get an equal amount back.

I hope you can understand this message. I am not trying to hurt you back--I love you very much and I would never want to do that. All that I ask is that you not send me a flaming message back...please take the time to think about what I have said and look at this from my point of view.

Really? She wrote a book and published it! I'm pretty sure I've read her point of view.

So after some thinking, I unfriended her on Facebook. Not terribly cool, I know, but I didn't feel comfortable with her reading my posts anymore. In turn, she blocked My Baby B and I.

And then I wrote about 10 letters back to her. The last of which I sent home with my mom, when she flew back to my sister's house from the wedding. My final letter was about five pages long, in it I said:

My initial reaction to your message on FB was to not reply at all ever. It was actually this line right here: “please take the time to think about what I have said and look at this from my point of view” that turned me off entirely. As I see it, the book you published was your point of view, and in all honesty, I’m quite sick of your point of view and how it has affected my life. The purpose of this long letter is to tell you how I feel and to let you know if we are to ever try to act like sisters, there is a lot that has to change.

And ...

While I never told you outright, I have had great difficultly talking to you, seeing you and interacting with you since the book came out. It has caused enough emotional upset for me that I don’t think I can move to a place in my life where I won’t feel upset about the book and won’t feel upset at you for so carelessly publishing it. Our relationship is broken and there are aspects of it that will never be fixed, because I won’t ever be able to forget the things you wrote.

And ...

I don’t understand why you had to greatly embellish the truth to make yourself look better than everyone else. Your “epilogue” that you wanted everyone to read, saying that that would make everyone feel better about your book: Did you actually read your epilogue? Your epilogue painted your family as Mormon brainwashed idiots who followed your greatness out of the Mormon church.

I know, right? I'm getting a little more sarcastic here, but finally I try to end with ...

If we are ever to have a relationship, you will have to take full responsibility for your part in damaging it. You will have to accept that I will not ever fully forget what you have written and that the memoir has forever tainted our relationship. You will need to stop asking me to see things from your point of view and understand that I read your point of view and I have my own point of view, which deserves just as much credibility, despite that it was never printed or published.

So there was roughly three months between her message to me and my reply and I guess, now I'm printing my point of view now.

Today in the mail, roughly two months since I sent my letter home to her, I received a package. In it were two books I had loaned my sister and my letter with her post-it on the front. And that, my dear readers and friends, is the most hypocritical thing I've ever witnessed/read/seen. And I was married to a hypocritical man, so that's saying a whole hell of a lot.

I address my feelings, I answer my sister's message when she wrote "all that I ask is that you not send me a flaming message back...please take the time to think about what I have said." I didn't send a flaming message and I took some time to think about it and what does she say...."fuck you!"

And so that is that. I don't have any qualms now writing about my problems with her book and I will no longer hold down my own voice about this.

We will never mend this and I'll spend the rest of my life sister-less, but it's better this way. There is truly now NOTHING that can be said that will EVER change anything.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten years ago today

Every generation of people have their big event. For my parents it was the assassination of John F. Kennedy. For My Baby B's grandma, it was the Great Depression. For me it was 9/11. (And I say this with the caveat: so far it is 9/11. I hope it remains that way, but you never know)

Ten years ago today, I had just moved to Oregon from Utah and my husband (now my ex) and I were working as apartment managers/ maintenance crew for a medium-sized community in SE Portland, Oregon. I hated the job, and more importantly I really hated being back in Oregon. It was a cloudy summer, it rained a lot and I missed the sun. I had managed to quit smoking again that summer and my kidlets had started school the week before.

That morning I walked down the sidewalk from my apartment to the manager's office and I opened at 9 AM. I had not watched any TV that morning, or listened to the radio, and that was my normal routine. Once I got the kids off to school, I wanted the house quiet, so I could get ready for work and be alone with my thoughts. Mostly my thoughts were about how much I didn't like where I lived and how much I disliked Oregon.

When I got to the office, I checked the mail slot, checked the voicemail, opened the blinds and flipped on the radio on top of the filing cabinet. It was always set to Z100, the local pop/rock station. There wasn't any music playing, just some people talking. I didn't pay much attention to them and started going through the rent checks and writing out the late rent notices. We lived in a crappy place that needed a heavy hand, so there was always a lot of late rent.

I guess it was an hour into writing out all these forms and balancing the ledger that I realized there was still no music playing and that news reporters were talking about something. I caught a reference to San Franscisco and the towers coming down and so I started to listen. Most of my mom's family lived (and still lives) in the San Fransisco area, so I wanted to know what was going on. I called my mom and she didn't answer, so I closed up the office and changed the sign to say I would be back in 15 minutes. I walked up the sidewalk back to my apartment and turned on the TV. And I sat there for at least an hour.

By this time, the towers had fallen, the plane had crashed in Pennsylvania and the Pentagon was on fire. I had missed it all, but I was able to watch the towers fall about every five minutes for that next hour and catch up on everything that had happened. I watched people running, covered in ashes and I watched some CNN reporter in New York talk while the smoke billowed out from the World Trade Center behind her.

I was mesmerized, shocked and I couldn't pull myself away from the TV. Eventually, my boss called my house and told me I had to go back to the office and so I did. But I just sat there and listened to the radio. It seemed to me like nothing was ever going to be the same and, indeed, it hasn't been. Security at airports ramped up like crazy (after planes started flying again), my kids' school was half empty for days because parents wouldn't let their kids out of the house. And within a couple days there were US flags everywhere. They were in car windows, they were flying in front of houses, off porches. Buildings in downtown Portland had flags out that covered an entire side of a highrise, businesses changed the light bulb colors on their buildings exterior to red and blue. Everywhere I looked there was a US flag and there was an air of patriotism around that I'd never felt or witnessed before.

That was moving, so much so that my eyes welled up when we drove downtown. In a weird way it felt like being at a football game in my hometown when I was growing up, when the whole town came out and sang the national anthem, and watched in unison as our Bulldogs kicked ass. I felt like a part of a communal something then, and I felt it after 9/11.

It's waned since then, but I think as a whole, we are much more patriotic country now. We support our soldiers, we fly the flag, we sing as school games, we stand in respect during a parade when the National Guard marches by. If anything, 9/11 changed that for the better.

I wasn't a big fan of Alan Jackson's crappy song, but Toby Keith - he hit the mark.

Soon as we could see clearly through our big black eye,
Man, we lit up your world like the fourth of July.

Hey, Uncle Sam put your name at the top of his list,
And the Statue of Liberty started shaking her fist.
And the eagle will fly and it's gonna be hell,
When you hear Mother Freedom start ringing her bell.

And it'll feel like the whole wide world is raining down on you.
Ah, brought to you, courtesy of the red, white and blue.

-Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue by Toby Keith

Thursday, September 08, 2011

The moment of diss

diss - a shortened version of "disrespect"

As in "Why you be dissin' me?"

Tonight I attended my son's water polo game. I've never been to a game before, because when he played a couple years ago, I worked and couldn't get time off to see him. But now that I'm among the unemployed of America, I have time to sit in a swim center, chat with my other kidlets and watch the matches. It was fun and yes, my son's team won their game.

The diss, such as it was, came when the game was over when CP's wife, LP, said "Hi, Rory." She says it with this tone, it's some sort of a condescending tone, mixed with uncertainty. I'm not her biggest fan, and she doesn't know me from Adam (or Eve), though she thinks she does because she married my ex, and of course, he only tells the whole truth and nothing but, cause he's a good, tithe paying, temple attending Mormon man.

Oh, see, I can't even keep the sarcasm out of my writing. It's the diss. It was fun. And though I want to feel badly, it just isn't there.

So LP said hi and I quickly said "Hi" back and looked away and started to walk out chatting with my other kids. I looked back quickly and saw LP roll her eyes and shake her head to her friend. It was sort of a "what the hell was that about and why did I deserve such rude treatment?"

Hmmmm....I'll tell you why.

My last interaction with LP came via my son's text messages back in May. I'd just returned from a trip with My Baby B and my boys came over to visit. Well, even though LP gave her approval for my son's visit, she decided that very same night to (at the last minute) shop for my son's prom attire. Well, I didn't know there was a prom, I didn't know my son was going, and LP decides that I should take my son out shopping because he wasn't at home with her. No problem, but at 8 PM at night, I wasn't really set up to run out and rent a freaking suit. So I said, "give me some more notice and I'm happy to help." Her reply, "Oh, this is a perfect opportunity for you to finally act like a mom."

Excuse me! I pushed three babies out my vagina, so I'm pretty sure I'm a mother.

Oh wait, you mean a mom. Well, I'd love to be a mom, LP, but you and CP rarely let my son come over, you mock the parenting plan, you sent him to military school and didn't even list me as his mother on the paperwork, up until recently, he hadn't spent the night in a year because you and CP didn't let him and when he does come over you ground him for some un-Godly reason when he gets home. You rarely let him see me, yet you find the time, less than 48 hours before his prom, to chastise me for not doing more?

LP, you are just a complicit as CP in keeping my kids from me and pretending like it's in their best interest that they weren't around me. I mean, I am a non-Mormon after all. I'm of the devil and going to hell and all that other crap you feed them.

So I did diss you, LP. And you deserved it. You deserved a whole lot more than that, but my kids were around, and I wasn't going to say anything within their earshot. I know, NOT trash talking someone is a foreign concept to you, LP, but it's how I roll.

I enjoyed the diss, it felt good all these months later to just flip you a little bit of crap, LP, and if you're feelings are just a little hurt, well, in the words of one of my favorite ex-Mormons, Dooce, ....why don't you suck it!

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Argh Matey! It's a pirate's life for me

Today My Baby B and I and some friends went to the Portland Pirate Festival in St. Helens, Oregon.  I cannot tell you how many times we said "aaarrrgghhhhh!" 

For a small town festival (and they'd probably dislike me calling it that) it was a great time and the people involved really take their pirate lives seriously.  The people involved set off cannons, shot old pistols, there was sword fighting and more corsets than I could shake a stick at.  There was even a pirate wedding.  The costumes were great, the music reminded me of The Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland, and the food was incredibly well-priced. 

By way of comparison, B and I went to the Oregon State Fair last weekend and paid over $125 on entrance, food and other stuff.  Today at the Pirate Festival we paid just under $45 for everything. 

We had a great time!  Would I go again?  I would, if my kids went along, because I know they'd enjoy it.  But would B and I go on our own?  Probably not.