Tuesday, May 10, 2016


The information I found about the University of Arizona's Center on Aging...I never sent it to my parents.

Well, I should say I haven't sent it yet.

Or any pictures of my trip to Tucson.

I made a choice.

It's printed. It's on my desk. I have an envelope.

I have yet to print pictures, address the envelope, or mail that shit down there.


Because I have a lot on my plate.

Not because I'm a bad person.

Not because I'm an irresponsible daughter.

But because when I got back to Port Angeles, I had a little post vacation depression.

Because who DOESN'T want to say at Ventana Canyon and drive that goddamned convertible camaro around?!


When I got home, it was spring break for Isaac, so it was full time mommy mode.

AND, when I got back, it was the first week of the spring quarter for us at the college. So, even though I did all my prep for the quarter before I left...I was replying to students, interacting with them, and, well, I was working.

I've spoken with my mother a few times since I've been home.

The most recent time was on Mother's Day. Dad wasn't there; he was at the pool, getting his exercise, taking care of himself, which I know he needs to do. So I asked her if she'd been to the doctor yet.

"About what?" she asked, surprised by my question.

"Jesus Fucking Christ, Jill!" I screamed in my head. Clearly she'd forgotten. I know that when a person is starting to experience a lapse in memory issues, they are typically surprised to questions they are not accustomed to being asked. My question was out of the blue and not part of her daily script.

"About your memory issues...?" I asked as gently, but as firmly as I could. "When I was there in March, we talked about you seeing your doctor....about getting a referral to the U of A's geriatric medicine program...remember?"

She hesitated. Not too long, but enough that it was obvious to me. She was thinking back. Did she go to the doctor? What did the doctor say? I could almost feel the wheels turning.

"OH! Right! I did. Yes. Yes, I did," she said, clearly proud of the fact that she remembered. And that she'd gone.

Or was she making it up? Was she remembering incorrectly? Was she simply trying to placate me, so I'd get off her ass about going?

"Good! I'm glad you went!" I said. "What did your doctor say?"


"Well...he said...he said that sometimes he forgets things too."

"Oh...well, that's true...everyone does forget things from time to time," I said.

Long silence.

"Did you get a referral to the University?" I asked.

"Well," she said, with another long pause, "I decided that I'm going to go with my doctor's advice and not worry about it right now."

She was pleased that she made her decision.

"Oh," I said.

Another long pause.

"Well, I'm glad for you that you made a decision about your health care. However, I do not agree with it, either personally or professionally," I said.

"I've always prided myself on my health," she said. "And this is no exception. I'm ok with where I'm at."

"I see," I said.

Another long pause.

And then I asked, "How old is your doctor, Mom?"

"Oh! Well, I don't know...he's...well he's...."

"Is he older or younger than you?"

"He's much younger."

"I see. And what's his name?"

"Uh...his name is Dr. Murray. Yes, Dr. Murray. He's a nice Jewish doctor."

"Gotcha," I said.

And in my head I screamed "What the fuck does his religion or culture have to do with the type of health care he provides!?!?!? Oh...wait...right...never mind.... It's better to listen to the Jewish doctor who you maybe see once a year and you've chatted with for 7 minutes than it is to listen to your family members, particularly your daughter who has a fucking MASTERS degree in HEALTH EDUCATION and is a college professor and TEACHES a unit on aging!!!!!! Right. No vested interest on my end. None at all. Jesus tap dancing mother fucking Christ!!!!!!!!"

I changed the subject and asked her to have dad please call me when he gets home from swimming.

She said that Sam was down from Phoenix for the day, but was taking a nap. She said they were all going to go to eat later.

I told her to have fun, and Happy Mother's Day, I love you and all that jazz....

I got off the phone with her and immediately texted my brother, venting to him about the conversation I just had with her.

He replied that he'd talk to dad.

Later I kicked myself for not asking if my dad had gone with her to the doctor. Because when a person who is experiencing memory loss is at the doctor, it's really important that someone that knows them well is with them, so that the doctor can get a better understanding of what type of issues the patient is experiencing.

My dad still hasn't called. Maybe he hasn't had time alone. Maybe she forgot I called. Maybe she forgot to tell him. Maybe she made a choice to not tell him.

So, I'm making a choice too, and my choice is that I've said what I've needed to say. I'll send the paperwork about the U of A's center for aging. I'll mail them some pictures from when I was there. Maybe it'll help her. Maybe she'll remember I was there. Maybe she'll change her mind about seeking help.

In addition, my choice is that I'm focusing on my immediate family: my husband and my sons. They need me in a very different way than my mother does. My mother is a grown up and has my dad and my brother for support. They can make decisions. I'll consult with them if they ask me, but I am not responsible for my mother, or the choices she may, or may not, make.

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