The Tyranny of Fragility

June 28, 2012

Logically it seemed so simple.

Mom lived alone. She will be 84 on her next birthday and is less and less able to look after her home both physically and emotionally. She has always been a strong, independent and reasonable woman, so this move out of her home into some kind of assisted facility should be easy, “a piece of cake” as the saying goes. After all, safety comes first!

To make this transition even easier, she had the resources to make this move, and with the sale of her home, her care in whatever facility we chose, would be assured with no financial burden to any of her family.

My sister and I, over a month long period of time, visited different types of local facilities for elder care. We were delighted with the options available and decided on a step up facility where Mom would have her own apartment, complete with kitchen. She could opt to cook or eat in the dining room… seemed perfect.

As her needs changed, the support she needed would be available for her. We were so relieved. Everything was going to be perfect.

So, let the move begin—or not!!

Sunday dinner at Mom’s house was a family institution and it was here, one sunny spring day that the moving plan was revealed.

What happened next was not at all what we were expecting. Mom stood up from her chair, looked us straight in the eye, and in a firm voice proclaimed, “I am not leaving my home. You could have consulted me about this and saved yourself a lot of bother. I thought that you loved me!”

So there it was. What we were all raised on and dreaded—guilt!

The, ”if you really loved me you would remember all I have ever done for you” guilt. What amazing power this small ladylike woman had. So where did we go from here… this was not part of the ‘easy’ transition plan we had imagined.

So is my mother a tyrant , exercising power over her children because of her fragile state and our sense of indebtedness? Or are we the thoughtless children , not thinking through the impact that this move would make on her and just wanting to make things easier for ourselves?

I hope that you learn from our mistakes.

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