Tuesday, 6 November 2007


I felt guilty the first time I went live with this blog. I had collected a backlog of emails to my Brother-in-Law, and I began to post entries that he could look at when convenient rather than getting to his desk in the morning to find several long complaints from me. 

Even though no-one was looking my way other than him, I felt I was betraying Mum.

Since then, this blog has had some regular visitors and I've been grateful to get a few kind comments and expressions of concern. It has made such a difference to know that someone else was reading all this and found what I wrote meaningful or moving. This was an unanticipated benefit from the blog.

A part of me feels guilty, of course, that I'm making myself feel better by exposing (betraying) Mum.

Recently, I've posted a couple of pictures of Mum, for which I felt guilt all over again. My picture and name are up here now as a small expiation.

I'm worried that my morality has slipped incrementally, so that what made me uneasy and ashamed in the first weeks is now simply not enough. I am a little vague as to whether each indignity I publish is really an effort to be truthful to what's going on, or proof to myself that I am an ungrateful Son. 

Am I looking for an edge, for a damning betrayal? How far will I go?

Today, in the real world, I betrayed Mum in a way I feel horrible about. I cancelled the installation of her new shower.

When Mum and I had our conversation last week about the complaints that had been made about her, she took the news with no apparent distress, but suddenly cut in with: "What about my shower?" I lied and said that I hadn't thought about that but, now that she mentioned it, there seemed to be little point in spending £2,000 on something she might get only a few weeks' use out of. This was the news that knocked the wind out of her - I heard the breath come out of her and her voice plummeted to rock-bottom. I rescued her by quickly saying that we would ensure that her next residence would have an en-suite shower. Since then, though, I've felt too cowardly and wretched to do anything about cancelling the installation. It was a decision that would acknowledge that Mum really will be moving out.

Today, after the Warden said once again that he thought Mum should move out in a matter of weeks rather than months, I finally phoned the Plumber and left a message that I needed to stop the job.

It's by no means my first betrayal. I am sickened by the thought that it won't be my last.


Dee said...

I feel the same thing -- and we're just starting this journey in our family. D

Henrietta said...


I have to start by saying that I know I cannot begin to put myself in your position.

It occurs to me though as I read what you write that you are using your blog in much the same way I sometimes use mine - as a kind of safety valve necessary for your mother's sake and yours too.

And if you are also reaching out to others in a similar sitation and offering them what comfort comes of knowing they are not alone, so much the better.

Take care.

Greg said...

Welcome, Dee. I'm sorry to hear that you're headed down the same path in your family. Please stop by again and let me know if there's anything helpful you find along your way. I think Hen's comment above is absolutely correct (THANK YOU, HEN!), that I use this blog to blow off a lot of frustration and guilt that I might otherwise focus back on Mum, and she deserves a calmer Son. As I've written recently, where some incidents would have sent my blood-pressure soaring a few months ago, just knowing that I will take a step back to write about it calms me down a great deal. Sometimes, too, putting it all into words focusses my mind and I come to a realisation that is helpful. As Hen says, if it helps you to look here and see that we've shared an experience, then I'm glad to have helped. I hope I'm leaving a trail to somewhere good.


BigAssBelle said...

please don't beat up on yourself too much over the shower thing. your payment for that small act of unkindness is that you feel overwhelming guilt and shame about it.

the fact that you did it is simply one of the terrible things that happens when folks are doing the impossible, as you are doing for your mother.

your mother would be lost without you. you are doing more than any single person should. you are human. it happens.

every now and then, when my dad gets on one of his phone call tears, i just quit answering. i feel such shame over it. my sisters don't, but i do and primarily because they regularly don't answer, while i always do (almost).

so his expectation is to speak to me because i'm his baby and can always be counted on. on these evenings when i'm simply too tired for another round of "how's mike, how's the little one, how are the dogs, how are the folks to the south," i just don't participate and sometimes the calls come faster and faster, as if there's some frantic need he has to talk to me and still i don't pick up.

shameful. hurtful. cruel. all of those things. these diseases that steal our parents from us are dreadful. and the emotional impact of these small cruelties that we're almost forced to commit, as much so. i am so sorry for you having to face this terrible thing.

Greg said...

Thanks again, Belle. Yes, it's cruel this thing that takes our Parents away. Fortunately, in Mum's case it leaves her blissfully unaware, forgetting the bad stuff almost at once. Last time I was with her we had a dispute one evening and I went off for a drive, wondering if I could face going back. However, Mum had no memory of any unpleasantness upon my return. Handy. But this time I can't avoid the unpleasantness because it's the "Mum" in my head that I have to face every minute of the day, not the one 300 miles away. I feel guilty.