Wednesday, March 12, 2008


I’m in Wisconsin this week, caring for my mother while my sister, in whose house Mom lives, takes a well-earned break. It’s strange caring for one’s mother. She isn’t a child, though she can be childish. She’s able to stand but not walk and so a wheelchair takes her from station to station around the house: bedroom, living room, bathroom. Even with eyeglasses she has trouble reading and she can no longer do needlework (both great passions all her life). She watches movies (right now she’s driving everyone crazy because she watches one movie, “Comfort and Joy,” once or twice a day) and sports shows (golf, tennis, baseball, football). My sister set up bird feeders outside her big front window and Mom loves to sit most of the day to watch her “circus,” as many varieties of birds and two kinds of squirrels come up to chow down. She has her good and her bad days. Tuesday, she mostly slept.

Therese is in Florida but her husband, Thomas, is here. He helps a lot, but Mom is bashful about bathroom things and changing from nightgown to daytime clothes, so that’s the main reason I’m here.

Another is to spend time with Mom. She’s nearly ninety and getting a little more frail every year, so this is a more precious than bothersome time. She’s on a fairly rigid schedule of bathroom visits and medications and she’s pretty good at manipulating me into ignoring some of the rules. At bedtime Tuesday evening she decided she was very comfortable in her chair (she sleeps in a recliner, the kind that lifts her onto her feet to get out of it) and didn’t want to make a bedtime bathroom call to change into a nightgown. I almost got into an argument with her, when she suddenly capitulated. And now, thinking about it, I suspect she’s angry. Angry at getting old, at being helpless, at having to be taken care of like a small child. I’d be angry, too. But she has to follow the rules, or she may get some serious life-threatening complication – her skin is fragile from sitting all the time, and needs tender, frequent care, for example, to avoid pressure sores. I suspect the argument didn’t happen because she’s afraid that might be mentioned, and she might burst out that she doesn’t care if she gets ill and dies. Because she’s afraid that might be true.

Meanwhile, southern Wisconsin is having the same trouble as mid-Minnesota getting spring started. There is still a lot of snow on the ground around here. Therese had to put off her plane flight to Florida for a day when a sudden, brief, intense snowstorm closed the airport. (Of course state farther south were getting clobbered with late-season blizzards, and even Florida had tornadoes a few days ago.)

I’m glad I had a week in Mexico City, it has helped me cope with this endless winter. But oh, for a mere snowdrop blooming in some protected corner of a garden! Or just the tip of the light green spear of a daffodil pushing up through the soil! The chickadees and cardinals are singing, so I know spring is coming, but it seems very distant – and this Sunday is Palm Sunday. I’ll have to wear my winter coat over my Easter dress Sunday after next. That’s not uncommon in Minnesota. But I’m thinking I’ll be wearing my furry winter boots, too, and that is not common at all. Hard to believe that in two months there will be lilacs blooming in my neighborhood.

I got the final design for the cover of Thai Die the other day. They made some changes from the original sketch, which I really loved. But then, I’m not an advertising agent, so I assume they know what they’re doing. So far they certainly have. Only, they put a smoking gun on the cover, which is great – but it’s a Derringer! The guns mentioned in the novel are not Derringers. I thought about making a change in the text, but realized that in the two places I could do that, a Derringer was definitely not the right kind of gun for the story. It’s a pretty and exotic weapon on the cover, however.


Jonna said...

I can certainly relate to your recent post. I, like your sister, also live with one parent that is wheelchair bound. Reading your post was a duplicate of my life. The only thing different is my father tends to a lot of her needs, but he's up there in years, too.

Linda O. Johnston said...

Strange, isn't it, to be in the sandwich generation? It's wonderful that parents often live so much longer than people used to, but it's difficult when they become our next "kids." Your empathy for your mother's feelings is really dear.

Kathryn Lilley said...

I went to Amazon to look back at all your book covers, Monica, and they really are beautiful!

Disney Mummy said...

Monica, my thoughts are with you this week while you are taking care of your mom. My mum had to do the same for my Nana, and it was heart wrenching towards the end. I'm an only child, and someday that will be my task too.

Lots of spring thoughts for you!
Love & light, Jenn

Gramma said...

Monica, I agree with it being strange to be one of the "sandwich" generation. My parents are in their mid-80s. Dad has dementia, and it is very difficult for Mom. Mom has more energy at 83 than I've got a 54. She took care of Grandma, her Mother, till she passed away at 97.
I hope I have the grace and patience that you have it I ever have to care for my Mother. Give your sister a big hug from me!