My Story: Baby Boomers Parenting their Parents


I am one of the lucky ones because my grown sons moved away after college to other states and it was nice to have them visit but also nice for them to succeed in their chosen professions. They got married, had kids and now one is back in Los Angeles and lives on my street but no real parenting required anymore.

They parent their kids and I try and stay out of it. I have made plans for my old age with long-term care,  which will never be used as I plan to end it before a full-time caregiver is needed or I am ready for a nursing home.

My sister and I have a pact, and we will get drugs and do each other in. I definitely could do her in, while she has periods of fear she won't be able to do it for me. But I am not stupid. I have plenty of backup, which brings me back to the title. My sister and I are parenting an aging, mean, abusive mother who only thinks the worst of us for almost every conversation.

We have divided the tasks -- I do all her accounting and paying of bills, and my sister does her medicines (17) and is primarily responsible for selling off her more expensive items to keep her in the manner to which. She is clearly the better daughter most times with my Mom, but she gets plenty of abuse as well. But clearly not as much as I do.

My mother and I never did well together. I don't remember a time when she wasn't criticizing me for something. You look good but... your house is great but... your kids are fabulous but if you only... And you have to wonder why I got married at 19 -- NOT.

My mother has skin cancer and she must go through radiation starting tomorrow five days a week for about 20-25 treatments. I met her at the hospital today to get the scoop and meet with her doctor, nurse and tech. My niece was my witness and leveler so maybe my Mom would be nice. My Mom can't walk, wears depends and has no ability to remember anything in the short term.

She kept asking, 'why am I here?' Skin cancer, Mom. 'Bullsh*t,' she said and so it went until the nurse came in to ask a few question. My Mom did okay with her name and date of birth but if you ask her how old she is (83) she doesn't know. Maybe because she always stated her age as 39 even when I passed 39.

My Mom ran her own business for 40 years -- the antique jewelry business and she was very successful. She and my Dad (now deceased) shared an office and loved and hated each other with the best of them. After those first two questions to establish who she was and how old she was it went downhill from there. Do you have energy -- why yes she said. We all put thumbs down. Do you have issues with your memory -- absolutely not, again thumbs up. Bowels, fine -- you wear depends Mom. Any issues with heartburn -- no she answers. Thumbs up again. She catches me and looks at me and says what do you know -- just be quiet and on and on it went.

After 20 minutes the nurse left and the doctor came in and on and on it went again as the doctor painfully explained her condition and my Mom nodded sweetly. After the doctor left, my Mom asks 'why I am here?' Skin cancer, Mom. When the doctor left I quickly said I had to go to the bathroom. I caught up to the doctor and filled her in.

'Oh, but your Mom looks great," she says. I think sure plastic surgery can fix you on the outside but not much for the memory losses or the real inside heart. My Mom never took care of herself. Her dad, a physician, had a heart attack at 32 and was dead at 42. He was told to not work, go home and prepare to die. He exercised and had a glass of red wine and lived another 10 years but never was strong enough to work. My Mom and her Mom had a life very different than what was planned. So my Mom, throughout her life, was glad to have gotten past 42 and figured every year was a bonus so she drank and smoked and didn't exercise but when she had a heart attack in her 60's modern science kept her alive and fixed her so she could go like the ever ready battery.

After two hours -- and not finished -- my niece and I left. I wished the staff well and told them she can be mean, ornery and abusive. They assured me they could handle it. As I was leaving I asked what phone numbers they had for my mother. Her home and my sister's cell. I said perfect and walked out to a beautiful day with my niece to our cars.


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