The Complaint Department

Yesterday, I was typing away on my book-in-progress when the telephone rang. Normally, I ignore it when I am in the groove but the caller ID revealed it was the agency that supplies my mother’s caregiver. When I see the name on the display, it is like having a form of PTSD. There is never good news when they call. It isn’t like they are reaching out to see how I am, how the writing is going, or what’s new with my family. Nope, they are calling to tell me that my mother’s caregiver is not coming to work. I don’t need to be a psychic to know that. I go through the polite exchange even though internally I am annoyed because this means I am taking her to get her hair done.

It isn’t as though this is a real imposition. But, I just happen to have an appointment during the time she is with her stylist. So while I can take her there, I kindly ask my spouse to pick her up when she is done. Win-win…..sort of. Anyway, I arrive to take her and she promptly gives me a list of things to do. No problem. Happy to call in prescriptions, look through a pile of papers that she can’t read, etc. Things are going well until the imaginary sign for the “complaint department” lights up. And we’re off. Unfortunately, I am driving, so I can’t fling myself out of the car. She starts her list of ways her caregiver isn’t up to par. You see, the honeymoon period is over and now, I must endure the litany of ways that her expectations aren’t being met. I am not a stranger to this pattern.

After she lists her complaints, I tell her she has choices. We can find a new caregiver or she can move to assisted living. Neither one are viable options in her eyes. And honestly, I don’t want to do either, but that usually quiets her protests. Unfortunately, she was on a roll, but fortunately, I had to leave for my appointment. As I left, I called my spouse and apologized in advance.

My struggle lies in trying to not be an asshole. To be compassionate and loving. To understand that she is fearful and the only thing that she knows when she is anxious is to complain and worry and complain some more. Jesus. Take. The. Wheel. There is such grace in being able to simply listen. Wish I embodied that grace. Instead, I walk the line like a drunk monkey at a circus. Easy does it with parenting a parent. I am sure my father is enjoying the show.

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