LIFE’S LITTLE LESSONS | Travel Tension and My Mom

At O'Hare Airport
At O’Hare Airport

As I write this post — or at least start it — it’s Tuesday afternoon, and my stomach has tied itself in knots. You’d think I’d never traveled before, that I don’t know how to negotiate an airport or catch a connecting flight. I always get this way before longish flights. Part of the problem is that before trips I always set myself an impossible to-do list. Like, vacuuming. Must vacuum before my trip, must return home to an immaculate house.

Really? My home has been a disaster area for the last month, and NOW I decide that vacuuming cannot wait an extra week?

This time around, though, I feel extra tension because of my mom’s health. As you know, she has dementia. (If you don’t know, you can read more here and here.)  The last time I updated you about my mom, she had one caretaker who came to her home twice a week. Now, she has two, five times a week. Mostly to ensure that she’s eating.

It’s the weirdest thing. My mom’s brain sends her signals that she has no appetite, yet there she is, wasting away before our eyes. The doctor had to explain this to us–that it’s more her brain’s faulty wiring than Mom actually not needing food anymore. If we set food down in front of her, she does eat, she just doesn’t care enough to fetch food herself most of the time …

Where was I? I’m scattered right now. Barely able to focus on this blog post. My thoughts zig, then zag, thinking about packing and dropping my pets off at their caretakers, then veering back to Mom’s health. Just this morning — the day before my flight, mind you — Mom called with symptoms that sounded like a bladder infection to both of us. OK, so I leave work to get her to immediate care. Get antibiotics. Nip this thing in the bud.

Only, I arrived at her house and she refused to leave. Just refused. It’s as if she’d forgotten that she might have an infection. And sometimes there’s no persuading or tricking her. So I left, and now that’s a task I can’t tick off the list before I leave for New York. My stomach has clenched up so tight I feel sick to my stomach. I keep running to the bathroom as if my body is empathizing with Mom’s body.

It’s effing annoying. I can’t control this situation. I know I can’t. I’ve talked to one of her caretakers, and her caretaker has told me not to worry, she’ll get it dialed in. I love her, she’s great. But that doesn’t mean that the thought won’t still be dangling around like a loose tooth that just won’t fall out already. The only thing I can do at this point is call Mom to remind her about what’s going on and what needs to happen, and to listen to what she has to say. That’s all.

It’s so weird to have a mom who acts like a toddler at times. I just want to leave on my jet plane in the manner I’m used to: wanderlust on the loose, relieved to be taking off, relaxed because I’ve ticked many to-do items off my list. But, my mom isn’t just a to-do item to be ticked off the list. I guess that’s the lesson here, and since I’m a full-fledged adult in a way I’ve never felt before … well, I’ve got to learn, as a good friend said, to breath through the stress.

Thursday evening. I’m here in New York at the Bouchercon World Mystery conference. I have postcards and business cards with my lovely KILMOON book cover on them. I even brought a few advanced review copies too. AND, BEST YET: Got a message from Mom’s caretaker that she’s got her antibiotics  and all will be good within a few days. Whew! Breath, Lisa, breath.

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8 thoughts on “LIFE’S LITTLE LESSONS | Travel Tension and My Mom

  1. Hi, I wassearching for other author’s blogs, and yours looked interesting. Congrats on you book. I’m also working on a novel – who isn’t – and I hope to be in your shoes some day. Your post about your Mom is touching. Life never wraps itself up in neat little packages does it?

    1. Hi geanie, thanks for visiting me. Keep truckin’ with the writing! Believe me, everyone gets there who keeps going. Don’t give up not matter how long it seems to be taking! I’m a case in point.

  2. I’m leaving tomorrow for Arizona and like you I have a jillion things to worry about, some serious, most not. A very wise friend told me to write down all the things I’m freaking about and then Leave Them Behind. There’s nothing I can do about them in AZ. My job is to relax and recharge. Of course, a conference is its own special brand of stress. So focus on your awesome book and having a great time, and leave the things in Portland in Portland. ( Easier said than done, I know.) You rock.

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