Hat on Top, Coat Below


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July 10, 2006

I am way more tired than usual for a Monday. Last week was not a particularly good week for sleeping, but mostly I’m weary today because I was up late last night writing in my paper journal trying to sort out the evening’s events. I spent the afternoon yesterday running errands with Mr. Karen; when we got home there were two messages for me on the answering machine: one from Rebecca, my ex-sister-in-law, who hasn’t been in touch with me in years (literally), and one from her father, whom I haven’t talked to since the first time my brother married Rebecca. Both were concerned about the situation with my mom, which confused me, because there was no message from my mom, my niece (who lives with my mom), my brother (who is soon going to be moving back in with Mom, bringing along his current wife), or anyone else who might have actually seen and/or talked to Mom since I’d last spoken to her on Friday night.

I didn’t immediately return either message. Instead, I called Mom. She actually seemed better than when I’d last talked to her, which was reassuring. This latest round of illness that started a month ago has been serious, and it’s not the kind of thing that she’s just going to bounce back from quickly, but she’s been really sick before and gotten better. Until I know otherwise, I’m assuming she’s going to recover this time, too. Still, even before the calls from Rebecca and her father, I’d planned to go see for myself what was going on, even though Mom continued to say I didn’t need to come (and in the past she’s been good about telling me when I do need to, like during her breast cancer treatment). I told her I wanted to visit and she said of course I could come, so I’m going to see her this coming weekend.

Encouraged that Mom’s situation hadn’t taken a turn for the worse–if anything it was the opposite–I called Rebecca’s father. His concern was for my niece, that she not be taken advantage of by having to shoulder a lot of responsibility for Mom’s care, especially once September comes and she’s back in school. I assured him that I didn’t want that either, that I’d been talking regularly to my mom and my niece and monitoring the situation, and that I’d be there in person this coming weekend. I don’t remember if we discussed that my brother and his wife will be moving in soon and thus be on site to help. I do remember that he said he wasn’t going to tell me what to do, which I appreciated. I called Rebecca back next and got her machine and left a message with much the same content. Somewhere in there I left a message for my niece and tried unsuccessfully to get a hold of my brother as well. I talked to a friend of Mom’s who has been checking in on her; she confirmed that the situation was not so dire that I needed to come immediately and promised to call me if that changed. My niece called me back; she seemed fine and said she was looking forward to seeing me.

At this point, I don’t know what to think. It seems that my niece is a lot more stressed than she’s been letting on to me when we’ve talked. I’m not sure what I can do from here to help. I’m not sure what I’ll be able to do when I get there, for that matter. If I had huge pots of money at my disposal, I could hire a housekeeper or nurse or both–whatever was needed–but my resources aren’t that great. I guess I’ll have to go see and talk to everyone and do some research on my own try to figure it out the best I can. I’m hoping my brother will call me back soon–maybe he has some ideas.

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