Question: Dear Luise: My mother is 79 years old. She has arthritis/fibromyalgia. I live about 30 miles from her. I have been getting her groceries on Saturdays for 3 years. She gave me a check for $70. She usually cost approximately $125. I am holding her checks, approximately $2,000. Every now and then she tells me to put a check in my bank account. My brother lives next door. He has relieved me for about two months. I am burnt out with only one day off a week. Plus I assist her with household duties. My brother is paying for all he buys her. You would have thought I left the state. I always purchase extra for her and my nephews. She is doing without some things but it will only be for about two months. I have taken on a lot of her expenses besides food, like paying her taxes. My question is why does she always call me with complaints about this and that. I have nothing to do with it right now. She is not suffering at all. I try not to be annoyed with her. So, how do I address this matter in a civil way? Q.
Answer: Dear Q.: Your situation has nothing to do with logic and there isn’t anything you can do about your mother’s attitude no matter how civil you are. Also, your wondering why she acts like she does…is an exercise in futility.
What you and your brother are doing is wonderful whether your mother has the ability to be grateful or not. I hear from so many mothers who are neglected by their children and would give anything for even a kind word. That’s the other side of the coin. To them, your mother would be seen as thoughtless and spoiled.
What you are hoping for is a reasonable explanation regarding your mother’s disloyal behavior. There isn’t one. The truth is that some people find something to complain about in everything that happens to them…it’s a way of life. And since life isn’t perfect, they are forever pleased to be able to find things they can take issue with behind another person’s back. At this time you are hearing about everything your brother is doing “wrong”. When you take the job back, he will hear every detail about your failure to be perfect. Count on it.
Both you and your brother are going all out to respect your mother’s needs and are doing your best to please her. The only satisfaction you are probably going to get is in knowing in your hearts that you are did your best.
There’s also a chance for you to decide right now how you will be when you are the lonely and unwell senior. The time will come. It is just as easy to be gracious and appreciative and it makes all the difference in the world to everyone involved. Blessings, Luise