Yesterday I posted on my Facebook that sometimes I wish I could believe in a god so that I wouldn’t have to deal with the hard stuff on my own. It seems like it would be so nice to say “Gee, this thing I’m going through really stinks, but I know it’s all part of a plan that’s greater than me. I know everything will work out the way God wants it to”. It seems almost luxurious to have that thought to lean on when times are tough. I can easily understand the appeal of religion; it makes the burden of emotions a bit lighter and then, of course, it dangles the lovely carrot of eternal peace and happiness in front of your nose.
Sunday was the anniversary of my dad’s death, and I’ve moved beyond seeing him as a saint to seeing him as he really was–a drug addicted enabler. He was not my abuser, but he knew what my mother was doing and he allowed it to continue and even encouraged me to behave better so I wouldn’t make her mad. It’s been hard to face the reality that my daddy was passively abusive, and Sunday was a tough day for me for that reason alone. But I was also worried that my mother might try to call me, looking for pity or sympathy. So when my phone rang at 4:00 I seriously considered not answering it.
It turned out to be my grandmother–my mother’s mother. She was upset and told me that my grandfather, who is only 75, has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s related dementia and that there’s nothing they can do to reverse or slow it down. This came as a complete shock to me. We saw them during the summer and he was fine. He seemed perfectly normal; the same grandpa I always had. I’m not sure what this will mean for my grandparents in the end. I imagine they’ll eventually have to sell their condo and move in with one of their kids, but I’m worried about what the meantime will look like. I worry that my grandfather will forget how to balance his checkbook and pay the bills. I’m worried that I’ll call him and he’ll have forgotten I exist. I’m worried that he’ll go to the grocery store down the road and get lost or get into an accident. I worry that my grandmother can’t deal with the realities of Alzheimer’s and Dementia. She doesn’t know how to drive, isn’t able to read very well, and has never had to deal with finances. I don’t think she knows how to pay bills or write a check. They don’t have a computer, so they don’t have internet access. She’s also not likely to ask for help if she needs it. I worry that my grandfather will die and I’ll have to see my mother. I worry that I won’t be able to make it up to see them again before he slips too far away. Of course I always understood that my grandparents wouldn’t live forever, but I thought there was more time.
And because of this situation with my grandpa, I’m feeling some pressure from family to kiss and make up with my mother. For some reason, it’s my responsibility to call her even though she refuses to acknowledge any of my letters. I need to let go of my boundaries, and stop waiting for her to follow through with my conditions before re-establishing a relationship with her. She has had half a dozen chances to write me and open up the lines of communication with me. I have extended opportunities that she has chosen to ignore, and somehow it’s my job to make things “right”. I had to take care of her emotionally when I was a child and, apparently, that’s still the expectation. I’m sorry that my decisions are upsetting my family, but I am doing the right thing for my life. I have gone beyond wishing my mother would finally be the mother I never had and now I only wish her siblings and parents could accept that I’m my own person doing the best I can with a shitty situation. I don’t think that makes me a terrible or evil person. On the contrary, I think I’m pretty damned healthy, all things considered.
I guess for now, I’ll just call my grandpa and grandma regularly and try and find some time to get up there soon. I want to make the most of the time I have.