Oh my God, that was hell! Hell! Fire and brimstones would’ve been preferable to this agonizing torment.
Today was dedicated to helping my mom. I set my alarm clock for sometime after 9:00 AM, and after I woke up, I did all the morning stuff: walked the dog, ate oatmeal, took my meds. Then I got online and found the online form to fill out if you’ve lost your passport. I called my mom and asked her questions, like her parents’ birthdates, her SSN, etc. But the whole time she was telling me these things, she was fighting off tears. The form took forever to complete on her behalf. Forever. But at the end of it, it appeared that all systems were a go for my mom to apply for and get a new passport. I told my mom that it was all taken care of now, but it did little to improve her mood.
Then I took a shower and drove out to her condo. She was a weepy, disorganized mess. She said she hates being so weepy, to which I replied that they make meds for that. (If that sounds unkind to anyone, bear in mind that my mom has been a trainwreck for her whole life, and she staunchly refuses any help.) She got irritated and said I sounded like Ellen 2.0. Yes, she actually said I sounded like Ellen (my sister) 2.0.
“Good,” I said.
“I didn’t think you’d want to agree with your sister,” she said, and I wondered how manipulative she was trying to be. (Probably quite a bit.)
“I do agree with her. Do you want to be a weepy mess for your whole life?”
“Meds have side effects,” she whined.
“Uh-huh.” I rolled my eyes. “I hadn’t noticed.” (I take four meds since I’m schizophrenic and then some.)
We sat in the living room before heading out. “I’ve been thinking of trying therapy,” my mom said. “Now, you haven’t had any luck with therapists, have you?” She made a sad face.
“No,” I said tersely. I was fairly certain she was trying to trigger bad therapist memories in me, and she was succeeding.
“So, therapists can’t really help with anything, can they?”
Taking my own bad experiences into account, but also taking into account that NO ONE can have any effect on my mother, no matter how many psychology degrees they have, I said, “No, they can’t.”
“I’m just such a mess,” she wailed. “It’s because I’m old. Your father keeps telling me to quit doing stupid stuff.”
“Don’t feel bad,” I said. “It’s not because you’re old. You’ve always done stupid stuff.” We discussed how she’s sold several houses which later shot up in value astronomically.
She wants to buy Ellen’s car for $14,000 because Ellen’s in-laws gifted her and Mr. Perfect with a new car, so they’re eager to sell the old one and turn some coin. “If I were to buy the car,” my mom asked, “would that be me being stupid again?”
“Yes,” I said. “You shouldn’t drive.”
“Now, why do you think that?”
I knew that whatever I said would go in one ear and out the other, but I replied anyway. “You can’t use one hand. Your vision has been sketchy since your stroke. And you tend to get anxious and have mood swings over little things.”
She hemmed and hawed, and then we left for the post office so she could get a passport. “Did you figure out how to get to the post office?” she asked as she got into my car.
“Because I can tell you.”
I got her buckled in and we drove up the street.
“That’s the street,” she said. I glanced. It wasn’t the street, and we hadn’t driven two miles yet. “That’s the street! Meg! You’re missing the street! Meg! Meg! Turn! Oh, wait, that’s not the street. Sorry.”
I refused to speak.
There was a long line at the post office, but a man called out, “Passport appointments?” and we were able to get taken care of.
The man was nice, but he refused to meet my gaze. I understood. He had his hands full with my mother.
“This is my daughter,” my mom said. “She’s been a big help to me since I fell down the stairs, had a stroke and a TBI, and lost my independence. Isn’t she cute and helpful? Oh, I’m so grateful for my daughter.” She leaned toward me as if to pinch my cheek, and I recoiled.
Meg, I told myself sternly, whatever happens here, don’t take it out on the postal worker. It’s not his fault. Not his fault, Meg. Stay focused.
Fortunately he was pleasant and I had no issue with him at all. He asked to see my mom’s birth certificate. I flipped through the papers and handed him one.
“Nope, sorry, this is a death certificate,” he said.
Because of course my mother brought along a death certificate.
“Oh, right, that was for my late husband,” she said. “He’s dead now because he died.”
“Yes, ma’am, but I don’t need his death certificate.”
I desperately flipped through the papers and procured a birth certificate to pass under the fiberglass germ protector.
“No, sorry, this won’t work,” he said. “This is a copy. It’s not certified.”
I tried to block out the customer who was right next to me with her packages.
“What?” my mom said. “But I’ve had passports before.”
“Yes, but… okay.” The man seemed to come to some decision internally. “I’ll put this all in the mail to them, and they’ll contact you if they need more info. I’d advise you to go online and get an official birth certificate.”
The man said he’d go make photocopies and would be right back. He disappeared.
“Where did he go?” my mom wailed. “Where did he go? I wonder what he’s doing? He’s supposed to be helping us with our passports! Oh, Meg, darling, did you write that passport number on the forms? Oh God, what if you didn’t? Our lives will be ruined.”
I forced myself to speak. “He didn’t mention a problem on the forms. The number’s on there.”
“But where is he? What is he doing?”
The man returned. My mom whipped out her checkbook. (You can’t pay the state fees with credit or debit cards.)
“Just a minute, ma’am. We’re not at that point yet. I need to input some information here.”
“But my daughter told me to bring a checkbook!” she wailed, heartbroken and despondent.
My faith in God was questioned at this point. No offense to God.
None taken, my child. I was there with you. You’re preaching to the angelic choir here.
Anyway, moving on. As we were exiting the post office after an eternity, my mom was lagging behind me as usual with her cane. I tried to dodge strangers in an effort to not have to interact with any as I held open the doors for her. Outside, she hobbled behind me with this look on her face that spelled trouble, as if she was about to burst into tears all over again. I got her in the car, and we headed back to her condo.
While I was dodging a Mack truck, she said, “Oh, there’s something else I need you to help me with, but I’ll tell you about it when we’re home, so you can focus on your driving now.”
I bit back a response. It wouldn’t have been pretty. I’d told her earlier to stay quiet while I was driving.
I maneuvered into the left lane to access her neighborhood, and she said, “Good job, honey,” and she gave me that simpering, patronizing smile she kept giving me at the post office. Again, I bit back a retort.
At the condo, she said I could leave the documents by the door, and that she’d come down the stairs for them later. Visualizing another tragic fall down the stairs, I said no and took the papers upstairs.
And then she didn’t pay me. I don’t know why. I was too exhausted to raise the issue, and she may have taken advantage of that. Hard to know. Or she flat-out forgot that I’m supposed to be paid for these massive blows to my mental equanimity. Or she figures that she paid for my hearing aids, and so that should cover it.
A million dollars wouldn’t cover it.
I’m going to discuss the situation with my dad. He’ll know if I should raise the issue or just let it go. He might also pay me from the money my mom sometimes gives him for various reasons. For once in my life, I’m feeling entitled. I doubt anyone blames me.