Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Her way home

"I just want to go home!" she barks, frustrated, angry, bone weary tired. Then with a whimper and a catch of breaking tears: "Varda, why won't they take me home, now?"

Home. A shifting and shifted concept for my mother.

Home now is a nursing home; half a room; one dresser, one wardrobe, one nightstand and one small bookcase hold the sum of her worldly possessions, whittled down to a nubbin.

"I'm so sorry, Mom. You can't go home today, Mom." Holding her hand, leaning close, I try to break the news to her as gently as I can, for yet again the tenth time within the past three hours that we have been sitting in this, the intake office for the geriatric ward of a psych hospital.

"Why not?" she wails, distraught. "I just want to go home!"

"Mom, your home sent you here to get help; to make sure you're safe. Do you remember what you did?"

She stares at me blankly, searching her near non-existent short-term memory.

"You held a butter knife up to your throat at the lunch table and declared your willingness to end it all."

"Really?" She asks. "I don't remember doing that."

Of course not.

"Mom, you have to stop saying things like that. Then they'll send you home."

In spite of it all, as always, the sense of humor remains intact: on being told she had to stay at the psych hospital until she stops making suicide threats: "Motherfuckers, don't they know a butter knife won't kill you?"

(Yes, I'm a chip off the old block.)

Neither I nor the Psych ER team who evaluated her think she's actually a threat to herself or anyone else. But yes, she is deeply depressed (as her situation IS deeply depressing, with no end in sight) and she does need help to lift up out of it.

And so the nursing home, deeply concerned, has insisted that she ship out until she shapes up.

I understand it is their job to keep her safe. They felt they could not adequately do that, were afraid of the consequences of failure.  But still, I think there has to be a better way, one that will not disorient and frighten her so, on the path to saving her.

Hollow speculation, however, as this is our way now, her way.

No way around it.

Have to go through it.

Mom's going on a bear hunt.

To find her way home.

Just Write


  1. As always, you write to eloquently about this difficult journey. I can only hope to be so dignified when it's my turn to escort my mother through her final years.

  2. Oh Varda. It's so hard. ((hugs))

  3. I can't imagine the pain of watching my mother slip away. I echo Flannery when I say I hope that I am as good and caring a daughter to my mom when she enters the twilight of her life. Thinking of you and of your mom.

  4. My heart just breaks for you.
    But I'm so glad she has you.

  5. Sending you both many many hugs!

  6. What NH is she at? They don't have an in-house psych?!? They think it's better to send out a resident who is already a bit disoriented...?! I really feel for you - they are taking a difficult situation & surely not making it any easier...

  7. I does seem a little ridiculous that they can't keep an immobile old lady safe when she's confined to her own bedroom unless taken to the communal rooms which are presumably supervised.

  8. I'm so sorry. It seems that sending her away is making the situation worse in some ways. But sometimes you just have to work through the situation that you are handed, as you and and your mother are doing. Sending prayers for both of you.

  9. Oh honey, I wish I could hug you right now.

  10. Hoping that things get better for you both you and your mother. I hope I have half your strength if I ever need to go through something like this.

  11. Oh, my dear Varda: how you could write a book that would help so many, on this road we're on.

    The golden years.

  12. I am so sorry. Your mom sounds like a bad ass with her sense of humor though and I hope it can help her and you thru this long long road you are on.

  13. Heartbreaking. Prayers for both of you, Varda.


  14. This is a heartbreaking read - I'm sorry for what you are going through with your mother right now. I'm sure she's grateful for your love.

  15. My parents' health failed when I was in my 20s. Both of them on parallel tracks of decline. My father had a stroke that left him disabled and epileptic. My mother had breast cancer. My father, who had had polio years earlier, had difficulty swallowing and frequent bouts of pneumonia. Then they were both in a very serious car accident and dealt with a whole new set of issues in recovery: head injuries, broken bones. My mother's cancer spread to her bones. She had a hip replacement. It was often overwhelming. My peers had no idea what I was going through; they were living an entirely different lives. My parents' died two months apart, when I was 30. A hard journey for all of us.

  16. Oh, so painful. I went through it, and though in some ways it wasn't like this, in others it was uncannily so.

    Everyone should be able to leave on his or her own terms - that's what my mom's long season of dying taught me.

    But so few of us are afforded that grace.

    I am sorry.

  17. I'm so sorry. This has to be so hard on your whole family.

    I had to giggle at little at what she said about the MF'ers not knowing any better. ;)

  18. Varda this is so well written. I am going through the same situation with my MIL. She is home, though and insists it is not her home.

  19. Wow. I can only imagine what it was like to write this. My mom is in the nursing home as well and she is so very depressed. Her mind is there but her body has failed her and she is to "young" to be there. Your words are so touching and telling of what we see.

  20. What a difficult thing to be both witness and participant of, and a reminder of how we should cherish our memories while we are still able to.


I am so sorry to have to turn word verification back on, but the spam-bots have found me - yikes!