Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Plenty of Work For Love

I was in the depths of despair over what is going on in my family a few weeks ago and was trying to distract myself with the "No 1 Ladies Detective Agency" books, a series I love. And I came across this passage:

"Our concern should be what is happening right now. There is plenty of work for love to do, you know.”
There is plenty of work for love to do. 
That was a wonderful way of putting it, and she had told him that this could be the best possible motto for anybody to have.

That became my mantra as I went through my days at work and at home. Waiting for the time when I'd be needed in New York.

And right now I am alone at my parents' house. My mom has been in the hospital since Friday with pneumonia. My dad is unhappy and confused in a nursing home while a broken bone in his back heals. He couldn't have been home alone w/o my mom anyway.

So I drove up Sunday morning. My brother, who should be there, hasn't been in either place since Saturday. Despite a non-working wife and their full time maid, somehow he just can't manage to be there.

So I am there.

I've sat with my mom in the mornings. I brought her banana bread and held her hand and talked to her. I've let her know that Dad is being taken care of and that I will do anything that needs doing for him. Including tangling with a social worker and nursing supervisor. And now they know that even though Mom is off duty, I am on duty!

I've spent afternoons with my dad, trying to improve his frame of mind and bringing him things he might want to eat and drink. Today I brought him old photos (the Man's idea) and a letter he wrote to my grandparents during WWII and he talked and didn't get confused and smiled. I made him laugh at a joke. I coaxed him into eating a little of his dinner, but also got him to eat all the pink applesauce I'd made and brought him.

I've scrubbed my mom's bathroom floor and tonight intend to do the kitchen. I will shop for what she needs and make sure she doesn't overdo it when she comes home tomorrow.I've made a pot of soup and am going to make a loaf of oatmeal bread as well. When she has chemo next week, I'll be there with her and take care of her at home.

I've Skyped my girls and tried to make them understand how important this is for their grandparents. How glad they are that I am here. How good it feels to give back to the parents who have given me so much. I've tried to keep my husband calm over the mold and mess in the kitchen and over the contractor worries. I'm hoping they'll all come up this weekend and be here with me. I miss them. I want to take care of them too.

There's plenty of work for love to do in this world. And I'm doing it.
And hellish as it all is, I'm so glad to be able to do so for these people I love.


enupoo said...

That's lovely. They are lucky to have you, but I expect that is partly due to all the work they put into helping you become you!

One suggestion from someone who has been through dire times; don't overdo the physical labor. You keep saying your brother won't do anything or be there, but has scads o' loot. If that's the way he can show his love, I advise leveraging it as much as possible.

Can he send in cleaners and pay for some upscale grub? Or anything else you can throw money at to free up your time for your presence?

Also, a huge one - can he foot the bill for a private geriatric social worker to navigate these perilous waters? I have heard having one on your payroll can cut through so much administrative bs, and also help you avoid real problems due to the complexity of care systems.

Sending you vibes of strength as you support so many people!

De said...

Ditto. What she said!

And especially the part about not overdoing - the caregiver has to take care of herself, too.

I was thinking about my family the other day, how each of the four of us kids seem to have had different parents. Well, of course, the answer is that we're different people ourselves, so we responded to them differently and each of us deals with them in our own way in adulthood. Please consider allowing a little of that love to be forgiveness for what your brother may or may not have done in the past. It's never too late to change.

I just love the characters from The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency. You could do worse than Mma Ramotswe as inspiration. Grace be with you. <3

The Library Lady said...

I will never reproach my brother for what he has or hasn't done. I love him and I just feel sorry that he's missed out on so much w/my parents.

Money wise, he is doing things. He has gotten a worker to help figure things out and she has recommended a cleaning woman. He will do more as needed. Food isn't a problem while I'm here because cooking is therapy for ME!

What disturbs me is that the thing my parents need above all is something that money can't buy--the regular presence and love of their family. My brother loves them, and he'll give them stuff but when I'm not there he won't step in and be with them.

Again, I won't reproach him for it--ever. But it hurts to know that he seems oblivious to that.
Truthfully I don't think he is, but he is allowing himself to be so.