False hope makes me pack so many useless things: workout clothes, hiking shoes, dresses in case we go out, a book I’ve been trying to read for five months or so, yoga DVDs, a documentary about the New York Public Library, plans to spend time with friends, an appetite for Hoffman’s coconut chocolate chip ice cream, a desire to feel something other than dread and defeat around a place that is supposed to be home.
Friday, June 29, 2018
Today, in the car, my mother commented on another person’s yard—how bad it looked. How it had not been kept up well. I am not making this up. My dad, before he died, did the same thing every time we passed a particular yard on the way to mom’s rehab center. When it happened the second time—Mom, that is, today, commenting on other people’s sloppiness—I actually mentioned the log in her own eye. Me. I need to get the fuck out of here.
Thursday, June 28, 2018
Wednesday, June 27, 2018
If you grew up in my house and wanted to get anything accomplished, you had to learn how to lie—by omission, mostly, but sometimes as cover up. My mother seemed to be put on this earth to make sure nothing ever happened. “We’ll see” was the closest thing one would ever get to yes. I learned this young enough to have affairs before boyfriends. Alison and I know that if we want to get stuff out of the house, we’re going to have to sneak it out.
Tuesday, June 26, 2018
Monday, June 25, 2018
After an arduous journey, we stopped in to see my mother on the way to the airbnb, and she informed us that the insurance company says they are going to cancel her homeowner’s policy at the end of August because no one is living in the house, and Alison and I are sure that anyone who sees the house will never insure her, ever. All that within 20 minutes of arrival.
It’s the 176th day of the year, but on the 175th, not only did I complain about how bad my eyesight was getting and how in the past couple of weeks I jumped past my 1.75 readers to needing 2.00 or 2.25, but my pretty pair of 1.75s, the ones I loved, broke clean in half, and even duct tape won’t make them acceptable for my traveling toiletry kit. And the nice pair back at home, newly bought and stored away, is 1.75. And now on this trip I need to buy a new pair or two. In my spare time.
Thursday, June 21, 2018
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Monday, June 18, 2018
Sunday, June 17, 2018
The last time I saw my father conscious before he died was the day we left after moving him and my mother into the independentish-living apartment. Our nine-hour drive to Vermont was delayed seven hours with all the medication/insulin fiascos going on. This was the day Tim said that my mother lied right to his face. This was the day that Verizon fucked us over so bad I thought I would have to kill someone. This was the day the helper found me sobbing on the bedroom floor and put her arms around me. I was at my worst.
Saturday, June 16, 2018
[I wrote this right after it happened and saved it for this month. Luckily, they recently made it back here in time.]
On April 1, I ran out of propane again. No joke. In the past year, this has happened three times. They haven’t delivered since January 31. When I run out, I have no hot water and no oven/stove. If I run out, when they deliver, they have to come in and light the pilots. I’ve used this company for years and I don’t know why the fuck this is happening. I’m on automatic delivery, for chrissakes.
Friday, June 15, 2018
I hate being around people who whine all the time.* But I always catch myself when I’m about to say this, because if I say it out loud, I am whining.
*This project excepted, because we have a one-month time limit and I would listen to just about anything any of you have to say anytime.
Thursday, June 14, 2018
I woke up sick. Despite our best efforts, it looks like I’ve contracted Tim’s wicked-sore-throat-(soon-to-become-congestion). I have to cancel my massage, and this therapist is about to leave and live on a sailboat. I may not get another chance to see her or say goodbye. I don’t have time to be sick. I have a week to get better before Maryland. At least I’m not already in Maryland. And how I made it through the winter without getting sick is mysterious. If Tim’s course is any indication, the next few days are going to be bad. Ugh.
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Really? You’re quitting now? Eighteen years and you send the director a 2-weeks-notice text while you’re on vacation? When you come back, you say you just don’t like her leadership style, but you’ve never mentioned this before? You skip today’s staff meeting so none of us can talk with you about it? We have fiftieth-anniversary celebrations happening. There is a festival coming up. You’re in the middle of building an already-under-contract traveling exhibit. You’re the only one who can do this. You aren’t headed to another job. What happened to that professionalism we all thought you had?
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
The biggest heartbreak for me—the thing I’ll be mourning the rest of my life—is that lack of a home. Not feeling really at home as an adolescent or teenager. Not feeling like I had a comfortable place to invite people to. Not having a place I wanted to go back to—or could. Not having the kind of family where we could all hang out together, or at least try to, because there was a place for it. There’s no changing it, and I have to let it go. But it makes me sad. (And a little resentful.)
Monday, June 11, 2018
Sunday, June 10, 2018
Saturday, June 9, 2018
Alison is tired of having this fight. She works for the school system and has only the summer off. She has been clear with Mom about the time available. It’s clear to us that once again, nothing is going to happen or change (nothing ever does), so why should we spend all our time and money there? One week, not two. We’ll do what we can according to her wishes. And if she is insistent on going home and is technically competent, then maybe we should let her and let things unfold according to her decisions.
Friday, June 8, 2018
Alison and I are going back later this month. We had originally planned on two weeks, renting Dumpsters, throwing out what is obviously trash. But my mother isn’t having any of it. She is a control freak (as I believe most hoarders likely are) and wants to go through everything piece by piece. This could take decades.
Thursday, June 7, 2018
Now that Dad’s gone, Mom thinks she doesn’t need to be in the apartment. She wants to move back to the house. It’s paid for, after all, and would not cost her thousands a month. Help can come to the house. She’d be (sort of) right if it wasn’t a hoarder’s house. When the help sees the situation, they will like report her to adult protective services. She let her driver’s license lapse a couple of decades ago and has now decided that she could get it back. She is eighty-seven years old.
Wednesday, June 6, 2018
Dad hated the place. He was resentful. He felt he’d been duped. It was one of the worst weeks of my life, getting them into a safe space. Two weeks after moving in, he fell. They took him to the hospital, and the fall didn’t turn out to be a problem, but everything else was. His dementia progressed rapidly. They moved him into hospice. A month to the day that we moved him, he died.
Tuesday, June 5, 2018
In December, my mother fell. She had surgery and did the hospital/rehab/hospital/rehab stint for almost three months. My father, who had vascular dementia, was home alone during this time. It was a bad situation. When Mom was released, Alison and I moved them both into an independent-living apartment and brought in lots of help. It’s a month-to-month place, not a buy-in. It’s expensive, especially with the help. But by being there, they were theoretically poised to get into assisted living—if we could get an application together with their financials and medical records (like that will ever happen).
Monday, June 4, 2018
In April, on the trip during which my father died, Alison and I went to the currently unoccupied house to grab some valuables to store in our own homes. We would not inform my mother of this until it was done. That’s another story. The point of this post is that I refused to pee in the house. I was able to find suitable cover outdoors and was much more comfortable with that.
Sunday, June 3, 2018
Before this past year’s inevitable aging-parents health crises, we hadn’t really been in the house for years. My mother refused to let us in. We weren’t invited home. If we were in the area for other reasons and attempted to see the two of them, we had to meet at a restaurant. This year I’ve been to the hometown (and in the house) every month, and I will go again at the end of this one. It’s expensive, because we have no place to stay.
Saturday, June 2, 2018
I used to think it was all my mother. She was just a terrible housekeeper, I reasoned. The days leading up to houseguests were traumatic, all chores condensed into twenty-four hours. Later, she made a remark that got me to thinking that maybe my father was a slob and she got tired of fighting it. No matter what, there was some serious codependency going on. Nothing changed, and it was clear that nothing ever would.
Friday, June 1, 2018
The hoarder house looms. It has haunted me for forty years now, since 1978. My dad took a sabbatical, and we moved into a furnished house—a clean and neat house! I was excited for that. It took them about a month to trash it. That’s when I knew that their house was going to be my problem someday. A big problem. I was sixteen.