Monday, August 31, 2009

Mommie Dearest

Have you ever had an argument with a loved one and started to cry? And then the other person asks you what's wrong and you superglue your lips shut and grunt like the other person is the stupidest person on the planet because any psychic can FIGURE OUT WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU. The male version of this scenario is you ask him what's wrong and he goes outside and mows the lawn. Even though you live in a New York high-rise surrounded by concrete. So he has to mow the balcony. Another thing you don't have.

Which brings me to my Mother's meltdown.

Due to her macular degeneration, she's convinced she's going to go blind in the next 15 minutes. And in her own passive-aggressive way, she found a way to stick the guilt stake right through our hearts.

"But I LOVE to rrrrread."

"How will I get arrrround?"

''My friends cannot believe I have 2 daughters who neverrrr come to visit me."

In 2001, when my dad died in Florida, it took me 3 years to settle his estate, sell 2 apartments, write twenty zillion letters and notarize everything but my ass. The money we spent on lawyers alone was outrageous. It was the only time I wished my dad had been poor. I told my mother that I was not going to fly 6,000 miles to Paris and that she needed to move here.

She did not.

So the other night at Lindy's she started to cry. And wouldn't stop. Or talk when Lindy asked her if she wanted to tell her what's wrong. Crying is a manipulative game and is about the worst thing you can do to yourself. You never get out of your system what is bothering you. I don't play this game. I did it in my dating years and it NEVER worked. Men just shrug and walk away.

For those of you have lost your mothers at an early age and think that I'm being mean or selfish, let me fill you in on the aging parent syndrome. Angry, bitter, nasty liars. My mother told me she never went ANYWHERE while she was at Lindy's. I chose to out my mother to my sister and while Lindy rolled out about 200 things they had done and how hurt she was that mom would say that, my mother turned to me and said "YOU HAVE A BIG MOUTH." I think we'd all agree that is true.

I know so many sons and daughters who have gone through this nightmare with their aging parents. Oh and P.S., they will NEVER move to assisted living, even though Mom isn't there yet. I'm sure some of your older parents are lovely but eventually they'll do a quid pro quo on you because they gave birth to you and were in labor for 3 months. They will fight you to move out of their own domicile.

Mom threatened to sell off all her assets and hire someone to live with her. I told her that sounded like a good idea. I spent half my life in France and I choose not to do it again. If she dies in Paris we'd have to hire French Notaires, American lawyers, sell her considerable amount of antiques, a garage, a maid's room and her 2 bedroom apartment. Did I mention she has a sister who lives 5 minutes away?

Did I mention Paris is 6,000 miles away from Los Angeles?

What would you do?


  1. Oh Suzy, been there. My mother passed away last month, but up until the end she became more difficult with each passing day. I say do what you need to do to survive and still have your life.

  2. What would I do? Probably just abandon all the stuff in Paris. Forget the notaries and lawyers. Just let it go.... or let the sister handle it.

    And I'd be with you, encouraging her to sell assets and hire someone to live with / take care of her. Would certainly simplify your life, right?!?

    I don't know why this reminded me of the "Everybody Loves Raymond" episode where Frank sold half of his & Marie's joint funeral plot. She found the papers in a drawer and pitched a fit about it, then asked him, "When were you going to tell me you did this!?" His response: "Never, 'cause I knew you'd yell at me. So I decided not to tell you because I figured if you died first, you'd never know, and if I died first, you could yell all you want!"

    I guess it's sort of the same theme, about how people get so weird about death and planning for it...

    Sorry your mom is being passive aggressive. That's no fun at all.

  3. Well I caved and moved back home. It's different for me because my parents are still married, and still aren't to the needy aging part, but still. I'm an only child, and they aren't going anywhere no matter what. It just made life simpler for me not to have to travel to deal with it when the time comes. But it also just made sense on a lot of levels, and I'm glad I did it. For you, though, I think it makes sense for your mom to move closer to you and your sister. I know how much older people hate moving and leaving what's most comfortable, but sometimes, things in life are just uncomfortable for a while but then we get used to it.

  4. Aging parents are ultra difficult. I feel your pain....breathe this shall pass.

  5. I'm not too much help. I live with my aging parents. The way I see it, they will eventually pass. My daughter and I will inherit. My brother is the problem. He has nothing. I think we may all end up together. Like, great. Ick.

  6. I'm watching my Mom go through this with my Grandmother. It is rough. All you can do is live your life, support your Mom as best you can and try and find some joy in the time you do have with her. Best of luck...

  7. Your mom has lived/is living her life and made her choices and you have to do the same, whether she likes it or not. My MIL is 78 and we're dealing with similar (but by no means as difficult--not yet) issues. I wonder what things will be like with my folks, who are in their early 60s. My husband's church has a large number of people who are 70s and up. He believes that whatever you are in life--the "real you" that most of us tend to mask--is brought to the forefront and amplified by old age. I wonder whether you think that's true in your mom's case. As for me, I think I need to amp up the therapy before I get old, before all of my buried issues have a chance to float to the surface.

  8. Anonymous12:42 PM

    I talk to my Mom every day. It's easier than being with her. She's 89. However, she has agreed, at least, to move to an apartment (right near my nephew, and he doesn't know of her plan yet). I'll have to clear things out as she would keep her collection of back issues of Architectural Digest and give the mint Canadian silver coins from 1910 to the Goodwill. BTW, Suzy, I had heard you did have your ass notarized.
    Aloha, MJ

  9. I'm visiting from Michel's blog, looking for another whining blog. No, not really. Your title is appealing enough.

    From someone who doesn't know you: tell your mom how you feel and what you are willing to do. Write it all down, and send her a copy.

    Then, sit back and fulfill your daughterly duty to love, respect and ignore your mother.

  10. This just reminded me WHY there is mother in law suites. I never got the kitchen in the basement thing, but oh yeah, even though you love them, the aging woman can get a little frustrating. I saw this with my grandma. I love her and she was like my best friend but MAN she got meaner as she got older!

  11. David5:28 PM

    When it was obvious to us that Mother could no longer live alone and couldn't really hire 24 care, we tricked her into nursing home care on the pretense of therapy.

    Thus we get every variation of guilt she can dream up. Including I can't believe the day would ever come that my children would put me here.

  12. I hear you ... I understand too! I just wanted to go to dinner tonight..but mom didn't want to get dressed go through the hassle!

    I remind my sister and brother all the time I am NOT an only child ..!

  13. Get her an agent? Talent and/or real estate..probably both

    What do I know. I'm a doody-head.

  14. Tell her to move to Canada. They speak French and then she'll be only 3000 miles away.

    I dunno. It's all I've got.

  15. Good Lord, that sounds like a nightmare. And no I don't think you're being insensitive. It's your blog and you can bitch if you want to. And I'm not looking forward to the day if I have to talk my dad into moving out of his house, either. And I'm not looking forward to the day someone tries to talk me into moving out of my house. Although having no kids helps in that department.

  16. My mother in law lives just up the 91 freeway and I don't know what to do with her. Well really it's not her it's her daughters. They are Twunts.

    I say tell your mother that she can move where her family is...L.A. I hate it when your parents try to guilt you into things

  17. You wouldn't believe what I deal with. And I can't blog any of it, more's the pity...

  18. I had all kinds of mental back-and-forth goin' on with this post until you told me her sister lives FIVE MINUTES AWAY!?!? What the hell?

    Passive aggressive drives me nuts. People accusing me of passive aggressive behavior makes me see blood. That's how much I can't stand that trait in a person.

    All that said, I often wonder how a P.A. would act if you treated them exactly the way they said you treated them. Just for a day... OK, like a week.

    Might shake them loose. Might kill them. Come si come sa. Six in one, half dozen in the other. A bird in the hand... oh never mind.


    SLC - Who lost his mom when he was five.. yeah I'm one of those.

  19. Why would she bother her sister when she's got daughter's to drive bat shit crazy?!

    I wish I had some words of wisdom or advice but I don't, so just ignore it and get drunk!

  20. Nursing home it is!
    Just kidding, well maybe someday.
    My parents live 175 miles away and it might as well be 6000. I honestly don't know what I will do when they can't take care of themselves. Dad has a girlfriend so she will hopefully help care for him. Mom on the other hand, don't think that's going to happen.
    I know I wouldn't move closer to them, I like where I live.
    I probably would help them in finding some assisted living situation or in home care.
    There is no possible way grandma will ever live with me.
    I know it doesn't work to tell your mom how you feel, with all the crying and all, just tell her how it is going to be and that's that. Your not moving, but will help her any way you can to find the help she needs.
    Poor Suzy

  21. My mom sold off her assets, rented a 2 br flat, and had all her affairs in order by the time she died at 82. That was the best gift in the world.

    We still had stuff to do, but not as much.

    She had been the executrix of my uncle's massive estate and she experienced firsthand what we would have to go through. She was determined to make it as easy on as she could.

    What a love!

  22. My mother's at this stage and changes the subject CONSTANTLY when it's raised. My brother got heavy with her last week and it's working. Jeez.

  23. "what would you do?"

    I'd sell her eyes.




  24. My Mum and I covered this about fifteen years ago. Every now and then we have a chat to be certain we're still on the same page. She has a will which she keeps updated. I'll look after her (should she need it) until her care is beyond my abilities, and then she'll go into a facility or I'll smother her in her sleep.


    Shade and Sweetwater,

  25. As much as it was sad to lose my mother when she was so young--61--I do realize what it is I've avoided.

  26. I am just really sorry you are in this position. I think you have to artfull master the fine line between empathy (how scary for her. It's one thing to bitch about losing my looks. Whne my health starts to go then... oh man!) and firmness (your life is where it is. It sounds as though your mother has the financial means to be where she wants). She can choose where she wants to be at this point, and you need to gently but resolutely make that clear to her.

    I'm so sorry, Suzy. This is some seriously tough stuff. She's lucky to have you. You wouldn't be so cheesed off if you didn't love her.

  27. They do lie! I am lucky that this happens more with my in-laws than my parents right now because I can be angry with them guilt free.

    Sorry, this is hard.

  28. Thank you for linking up and for making me laugh all over again.

    (picturing Notary tattoo on one ass cheek)