Looking after Mum

I realise there is a lot of ‘personal stuff’ in this and my previous post.
Maybe too personal for blog land, but my feelings and emotions, usually kept to myself, run deep as I try to see everything from all angles, not just mine.

Mum and Dad moved in with my sister and her family in 1995. My Dad died a year later.
Between 1996 and 2007, Mum was independent in her outings and would catch the bus to meet me for lunch every week. Sometimes, she would come to the bank on a Friday afternoon coming home with me for the weekend, us taking her back on Sunday.
We had her over for Christmas,  New Year and Easter dinners, picking her up and taking her home.  **

We were once asked to have her for a week as Sis had some jobs that needed doing in the house and Mum tended to either get in the way or tidy up the tools before they’d started. We told Mum we were ‘going away’ and needed her to dog sit rather than have her feel she was being farmed out , then at the last minute ‘cancelled’ but insisted she come anyway . We picked her up Friday afternoon and took her back the following weekend on Sunday night, thus giving Sis almost 10 days to do the work.
They had done nothing.
We were angry, not at being duped as we were always happy to have Mum to give them a break, but they didn’t need to lie to us.

The shit hit the fan when we sold the bungalow in 2007.
It didn’t matter that we had nowhere to go, it was the year it rained all the time and we were living in a tent getting flooded out every week. To Sis it was all of our own doing, our choice, and basically tough luck on us.
I rang her on her birthday in September shortly after we’d finally found a house, merrily singing Happy Birthday down the phone, and got an earful of hostility.
We hadn’t intended to move so far away (250 miles) and were accused of desertion, selfishness and inconsideration.

In January 2008, my sister-in-law was coming over from NZ and offered to bring Mum up for a week’s holiday. We worked like stink to get the cottage decorated and furnished, and had a great week, my SIL staying the first night then going on to see her family, and staying again on the way back before taking Mum home.

Sis wanted us to have Mum for another holiday, but said we would have to collect her. Eventually (and begrudgingly) it was agreed we’d meet half way. However, we checked out coaches, trains, even plane schedules, and discovered Mum could catch a coach with just one change in London for £25 return, so this wasn’t necessary.
It was a long journey for Mum,  Sis dropping her at the bus station at 7.15 and us collecting her our end at ten past four. We gave her a light evening meal, plenty of cups of tea and packed her off to bed early the day she arrived, then took things nice and steady so as not to overtire her during her four week stay.
We had outings once or twice a week, walked the dog every day in the woods, along the river or down the lanes, took Mum for tea and cake at a local windmill, nothing very strenuous, expensive or exciting, just simple pleasures in different surroundings. She always slept very well during her visits.
Sis never rang or wrote during any of her stays, not even the year she stayed with us for 8 weeks and celebrated her birthday with us.

One year, Sis had a family crisis during Mum’s break with us, and we offered to have her stay for an extra couple of weeks. Sis didn’t want that, and besides, one of her daughters was due to visit and she wanted Mum home for that. As it turned out, the daughter didn’t turn up and Mum was running the home whilst Sis and her husband were trying to sort out the mess.

I should add here that before we decided to move, we offered to have Mum come live with us, but she felt she was needed where she was. We offered for her to come with us when we’d found a buyer, and again when we were settled in Lincolnshire, but were refused. Then my brother-in-law died and Mum was adamant her place was with Sis.

In June 2014, SIL was coming over from NZ again and offered to bring Mum up for a holiday as she no longer felt up to the coach journey. We couldn’t accommodate her as we were in the middle of our house sale which was turning into a nightmare.
As things turned out, we were forced to move out the day Mum and my SIL would have been arriving.
I received a very hurtful email accusing me of always making excuses, not caring, shirking my responsibilities and leaving Sis to do everything.

I have not been privvy to Mum’s welfare and health, just as it was with my father, who had been in hospital for over 12 hours after a heart attack before anyone contacted us. After his death, it transpired he’d had one several years before, but no-one had ever told me.

I will continue to write, as I know Mum likes to get letters in the mail, though I know it is doubtful she will write back. Any emails I send to Sis are rarely acknowledged, but if it’s something important (like our health) I send her a message so that she’ll know we’re not making excuses for not visiting.
happy birthday
There was never an offer to collect or drop Mum off, even when we lived locally.
Sis never visited us in the flat (1989-90), only once in our first house in 1995 , once in our second house (1996 house-warming), once in the bungalow to collect a dining table and chairs we were getting rid of prior to our move in 2007, and never in Lincolnshire (2007-2014).  She most certainly will never visit us here as she gets ‘sea sick’ and it’s too long a journey.
We visited from Lincolnshire on several occasions, even though it was a seven hour journey each way until we found a better route, with no offer of a meal, cup of tea, or overnight stay. Since moving here, we have gone down on a regular basis, even though it can take four hours to get there.


About pensitivity101

I am a retired number cruncher with a vivid imagination and wacky sense of humour which extends to short stories and poetry. I love to cook and am a bit of a dog whisperer as I get on better with them than people sometimes! In November 2020, we lost our beloved Maggie who adopted us as a 7 week old pup in March 2005. We decided to have a photo put on canvas as we had for her predecessor Barney. We now have three pictures of our fur babies on the wall as we found a snapshot of Kizzy, my GSD when Hubby and I first met so had hers done too. On February 24th 2022 we were blessed to find Maya, a 13 week old GSD pup who has made her own place in our hearts. You can follow our training methods, photos and her growth in my blog posts. From 2014 to 2017 'Home' was a 41 foot narrow boat where we made strong friendships both on and off the water. We were close to nature enjoying swan and duck families for neighbours, and it was a fascinating chapter in our lives. We now reside in a small bungalow on the Lincolnshire coast where we have forged new friendships and interests.
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9 Responses to Looking after Mum

  1. I’m just now catching up on some of your posts. In my opinion, it’s your blog and you should write whatever you damn well please – nothing is too personal so long as writing it out makes you feel a little better. Heaven knows, I just went through that melt-down I wrote about (and which I’m feeling a little embarrassed about now), and the support I got from my readers was incredible.

    As for your situation with your sister and your mum, you can only do what you can do, right? When my mother was at the point where we all knew she could no longer care for herself, there were long drawn-out discussions of what to do, could any one of us take her in, what would she like the best. Since at that point she still had most of her mind, she was able to tell us that she really preferred going into assisted living rather than imposing on any of her children, even though several of us would have willingly made the sacrifice. But it would have been a strain (both financially and emotionally) on whichever family did that. As it turned out, my mother was much happier having her own room in the assisted living facility than having a room in one of our houses (which she would have viewed as some kind of charity, something she could not deal with).

    Every family is different. All you can really do is let your mother know how much you love her, as often as you can. Let your sister deal with her own demons.

    • You have summed it up really well. Every family is indeed different. We had hoped Mum would opt for independence in a warden assisted development, but she has said she could never live alone. We don’t know what the future holds and can only deal with things as and when they present themselves. We will be as supportive as we can obviously.
      You are right though about readers comments and support. It does help enormously. Thank you for yours.

  2. It’s so hard and rips a family apart when a parent gets old. I have two brothers who had no interest in helping out with our mother when she started to get sick. I was the one that made the arrangements for meals every day and checked on her. I took her to all her doctor’s appointments and I was working full time. It would have been easier if she would have moved in with me. (I was single at the time.) She wouldn’t have any of that. She wanted to die in her own home. As it turned out she died in the hospital. I was the executrix of the estate, sold the home, paid the bills and planned the funeral. I am not resentful but I sure could have used some help. Sounds like your sis has some passive-aggressive issues. Nothing will make her happy. You are to be commended for making the effort.

    • Oh Kate, I am so sorry. Sis and I were joint executors until we moved to Lincolnshire, then Other Brother was named instead of me as he lived closer, which made sense. He lives further away than we do now, but I don’t know if anything was changed again. Obviously when the time comes, I will be there regardless.

  3. amommasview says:

    It’s very sad when you realize that one of your parents is brain washed by a sibling… I truly hope your mum receives the letters you send her and I’m certain that she will love reading them if she does get them… Keep it up! Don’t let your sister get too you. She has her own agenda and you don’t have to be part of this. Sometimes we need to make decision in order to look after ourselves. Decisions that might not make sense to anybody else. But you know what: It doesn’t matter. People who criticize your for doing something or not doing something usually only have their agenda in mind and your actions might not support what they want to do…

    • Thank you for your view. We try to visit once a month, but I do write every week. My letters used to be sent as attachments to emails, knowing Sis would read them and get a gist of what was going on in our lives. I don’t think she would not have passed them on to Mum, but I’ve reverted to snail mail just in case. Mum is most important to me.

  4. I am starting to live some of this first-hand. It is not easy! I feel for you, friend.

    • It’s not all bad, and we relish the good visits, especially when Mum is having one of her better days and accepts our offer of taking her out. We get quality time with her then with no distractions.
      Sis is an enigma, her attitude changing erratically, and I try to make allowances even though her comments can be hurtful and upsetting. However, I am not falling into the trap of feeling guilty or taking the blame all the time. Gone are the days when I would rise to the bait of an argument in front of her friends to make her look good. Families. I still say the Waltons have a lot to answer for! Hope all is well with you and the family.

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