Tuesday, August 14, 2012


I actually know nothing about zen, but I talk a lot about things like the zen of flying, getting into that relaxed mind state where you know everything is going to be terrible, but you're just going to go with it and not make things worse by getting upset.  

Today it was the zen of dentistry. I had my periodic cleaning with my hygienist Kristina.   I enjoy these dental visits, even when the scraping gets a bit energetic.   I've been meeting with Kristina 3x a year for several years.  We enjoy getting caught up on each other's lives before she starts the cleaning process. I've always just gone into as relaxed a state as I can, do deep breathing, relax all muscles, let my mind go blank and that pretty much takes care of any minor pain.  

I don't actually know if this is what "zen" is all about, but it's a good way to explain it to myself.  It's the techniques I learned way back when I was birthin' babies and doing LaMaze.

I try this zen in heavy traffic situations, or when I have pains anywhere in my body and in any situation where I am feeling stressful.  It almost always helps.

I'm trying to find out if this philosophy of my own kind of zen will help me in dealing with my mother.

Lemme tell you, I am so appreciating Walt's mother these days.  She saw the writing on the wall years befre she died and knew that sooner or later she was going to need help.  She went into a senior living facility, first in Sacramento and then in Santa Barbara.  As she began to need more help, it was an easy transition from independent living to assisted living, and ultimately to convalescent care until she died.  It may not have been the ideal situation, but it made it easier for her kids, especially as she began to need more and more care.

My mother is not going to go so gently into that good night.  We had an actual argument yesterday.  I can't remember the last time we had an argument.   But she announced very proudly that she was NEVER going to go to an assisted living facility.  She doesn't know a single person who has entered one who hasn't regretted it and she is going to die in her own home.

Her plan?  She is going to hire someone to come and live with her full time.  She will set aside the back half of her house for this person and this person will live there and take care of my mother.  She was so proud of herself when she announced this to me and asked what I thought.  I told her I thought it was a terrible idea.  She was shocked.

I pointed out to her that when people she loves come to visit she is ready for them to leave after 3 days.  I pointed out that she herself would not offer to rent half of her house to her best friend because she didn't think she could stand to live with someone.  I pointed out all the things she would lose by giving this mythical person (should she be able to find one) half her house.  I pointed out the expense.  I pointed out how difficult it would be to get the right person.  She has had housekeepers come once or twice a month and has had nothing but complaints about them.  I pointed out how it is not in her character to be waited on and if she had someone living there 24/7 (which she intends this to be), she will end up working herself to exhaustion cooking and cleaning for this person.

But she is adamant.  She will find the perfect person through her church, it won't bother her to give up half of her house, but she's not ready yet and she will know when she is ready, just like she will know when she's ready to give up driving.

I'm going to see her next week and it will be interesting to see how much more her memory has deteriorated. (Peach just spent a few days with her and said it was terrible.  But I know it comes and goes.)

I was so upset after I talked with her, raving about how considerate Walt's mother had been.  But then I calmed down.  I realized that she is a grown, independent woman and that I should give her a chance to try this plan.  Who knows?  Maybe there is someone out there who is looking for just such a job, with whom my mother can get along, and maybe she won't mind having her there all. the. time.  Maybe they won't get on each other's nerves. Maybe it will work.

And maybe pigs will fly.  But it is her life and I need to take a deep breath, relax all my muslces, let my mind go blank and let her do what she wants to do.  And pray things will work out the way she thinks they will.


Harriet said...

There are times when you just have to let them take the responsibility. My mother, having chosen to be several hundred miles from both her daughters, firmly said, "I'll handle it." She was plenty mad when she couldn't and we were no longer able to travel to her.

My husband did't like having home care. He would tolerate it for a week or so, and then pointedly ignore the nurse. It was my job to get rid of her. He wasn't nice. But it was my home too; eventually, it was he who had to be moved.

Had I left it up to him, he would not have survived this long.

Mary Z said...

I'm so sorry. I keep seeing these decisions in our future for ourselves, and it ain't fun. These past couple of weeks of my not being able to drive are giving me a glimpse of the future.