“My Mom attempted suicide.”
“My Mom tried to kill herself.”
“She said, ‘I’ll kill myself before I go into a nursing home.'”
Phrases I’ve said repeatedly in the last week of my life.
At this time, my Dad’s mental and physical condition appear to be deteriorating, with no real explanation as to why. It was just Saturday that I bragged to him about winning the music trivia contest at the Indianapolis Museum of Art before watching Anton Corbijn’s haunting film “Control” about the life and suicide of Ian Curtis. He boasted proudly, “it’s because you’re my daughter!” He seemed lucid and confident about potentially going home early this week. Unfortunately, that is not coming to fruition.
At the same time, my mother has warmed to the idea of an assisted living facility. She requires 24/7 care. What I will say now seems cruel, but my mother put me through a roller coaster of mental abuse prior to her suicide attempt. I know it’s her illness talking, but it’s hard to hear words like, “you’re dead to me” and “don’t ever speak to me again,” followed by further calls where she acted as though none of this had happened. She also has come up with a variety of alleged maladies that cannot be substantiated by medical professionals.
I truly hope my Dad can get his wish of returning home, although the status of that is unknown. He has been my Mom’s caretaker for decades and deserves some peace and quiet. Last week, he told me he wanted to be able to blast the Sex Pistols at full volume whenever he pleased. He wanted to hang out with Molly (their cat), who doesn’t seem to like anyone but him. He wanted to watch hockey and not be bothered. He is dying and wants to enjoy what time he has left.
I want that for him. I also do not want my mother to return home. When you hear from the hospital that a parent attempted suicide, the range of emotions is like a bag of M&Ms – colorful, but still dark at the core. I made this analogy because the nurses at hospice gave me a bag of dark chocolate M&Ms last week.
I am still extremely disappointed and angry at my mother’s actions. When my Dad’s health began to decline physically, my Mom’s anger rose. It was, in a word, selfish. Marriage is a contract between two people, in which both parties agree to take care of the other. My mother violated her contract by continuing to demand the care of my father, who simply couldn’t hang any longer.
My Dad did the majority of parenting as I was growing up. He trucked me to Bradley orientation two decades ago and then, turned around and drove me to Chicago to see The Cure. He packed my Dodge Neon like a game of Tetris when I moved to New Orleans. He wept as I pulled out of the driveway, as we knew our lives were going to be altered permanently with the move.
He got Parkinson’s in 2004 and cancer in 2011. My Mom all but refused to take care of him. It is going to take a long time for me to be able to forgive what I now believe is a selfish act on my Mom’s part. She told my aunt, as she called various people, that she “couldn’t live without my Dad.” It reminded me of my first relationship heartbreak 20+ years ago when I was a teenager.
I’ve lived through dark periods in my own life and come back from the brink a time or two. But, my survival instinct and hope kept me alive. I want to believe my mother possesses one or both of these traits, but only time will tell.
If you’re still reading this, I will talk about some positive changes that have happened in the same time span later this week. Unfortunately, the story above was slightly more time-sensitive.
I’m really scared for both of them.