An ounce of prevention
by Jesse Loren
She was stashing mail and trash everywhere, her clean place started to resemble an episode of Hoarders, and my sensitive lungs were inflamed when I visited. For a drop-dead-gorgeous business lady who, just a few years ago, climbed the ladder to her roof to take off her own damn shingles (all six layers of roofing tiles), it was hard to believe she was no longer invincible.
My mom is Nordstrom boots and swift decisions; determination and hell to pay if anyone crosses her.
But these days, she forgets to open mail and doesn’t keep a grasp on reality. We can’t tell when she is making things up, and neither can she. We keep swooping in to fix the messes, but the messes are getting larger.
She is scared.
Imagine your mom as a person more determined than Margaret Thatcher with the mouth of Kathy Griffin. That’s my mom. She is sweet, loves her pooches, and would help anyone it need, but she can’t remember whether she took her meds, or if she ate, or if she said something. Would you wait for it to get worse? When waiting might lead to a car or other accident caused by a limited attention span? Would you rush in to take over and risk her ire? Would you confront her or go around her?
My closest brother and I decided to let love guide us. We started by taking her to an attorney and getting advice. We encouraged her to get her health care directives and legal documents in order. She helped us, then fought us. We cleaned her place, organized her papers, cleaned her fridge, freezer, and house. She helped us. She loves living at the beach, and we want to help her stay there as long as possible.
We now know that at any time we will have to swoop in and make all her decisions.
For about a year I have been struggling with the decision to seek an attorney, but finally took the steps to start scaffolding mom’s future. It was the smartest thing I could have done.
Hopefully all her wishes will be spelled out and notarized, then followed when that sad time comes. Hopefully my family will circumvent the chaos that happened with my parents’ generation and the death of my grandma. Their unscientific method was to draw straws for things and hold anger toward each other for years because of the outcome. I don’t ever want to do that.
I want my mom to be safe and warm, loved and protected. I want her to get the medical care she needs. I want to be able to go to work without worrying every minute of the day. Mainly, I want to face the paperwork and legalese now to avoid the pain of not being prepared later. It has been exhausting, but it is one of the most loving acts of kindness.