Chat @ Care-giving: Remembering Skull Island

Like most of my readers, I was just a kid the first time I visited Six Flags. I’m sure we enjoyed rides, took in shows and ate our fair share of junk food, but what I remember best is my cousin Patrick.  He was a few years older than me and a whole lot more trouble.

One of his chief pleasures in life was delivering grief and he was very good at it.  Like when he convinced me that jumping on the roof of my parents’ car would be just like a trampoline.  Or when he told me it wouldn’t hurt my new shoes if I dragged them along as I rode on the back of his bike.  Or when… but you’ve got the idea.

On Six Flags morning, my parents drove over to Patrick’s house to follow Uncle Glenn to the amusement park.  When Patrick opened the front door for us he announced, “I want to go to Skull Island.”  His mother was only a few steps behind him and his announcement was lost in the departure flurry.  Somehow I ended up in the car with Patrick.  I knew better.  I can’t imagine what came over me.

During the half hour ride from East Dallas to Arlington, Patrick extolled the virtues of Skull Island to the exclusion of all other discussion.  I was made to understand that my life depended on supporting his desire to visit the pirate paradise.  The tirade continued as we rode the tram to the front gate and did not abate as we stood in line for tickets.

For some adult reason that I still don’t comprehend, Patrick’s dear wish to visit Skull Island could not be immediately satisfied.  Instead, we spent the entire day dragging Patrick from show to show, ride to ride and refreshment to refreshment.  All the while, in every line, during every ride and with every bite Patrick steadfastly repeated, “I want to go to Skull Island.”

What does this have to do with Care-giving?  Replace Skull Island with moving into a retirement property and make it a negative statement.  Now welcome to my world.

Five years ago, mother just ignored my suggestions that we should be planning for it.  She’d just say they weren’t ready and that was that.  A few months ago, she acknowledged they were ready, but as I tried to work towards the move, she tried to delay it, defer it or deny it.  Then we signed a rental agreement and now all I hear is “I don’t want to move to the retirement property.”

Frequently she comes right out and says it.  Our conversations are peppered with, “I don’t want to do this.”  At other times, she tries a more round about approach.  for weeks it was, “We can’t afford it.”  Now, as the inevitable draws nearer, she’s getting more clever.

As we discuss her new apartment she points out that she’ll be bereft of neighbors because there is a training office and a maintenance closet near by.  Then there’s the soap they wash the linens with, she might be allergic to it.  She really can’t see how we’ll get everything she needs into the apartment.  And she can’t imagine how we’ll ever be finished packing for the move.  I make comforting noises and stay on track.

I knew I was in trouble yesterday when she began a conversation with, “Now I really am going to move, but there’s something I want to talk to you about.”  In the most reasonable voice I’ve heard in months she proposed that we just put the move off until they had an apartment like she wanted available.  Now this does sound reasonable.  In fact, I’d already told the marketing person that if something more to Mom’s liking was about to become available, we could wait.  That’s when I found out that the floor plan Mom wants is only located at the far ends of the halls and that’s too far away from the dining room for Dad.

I discussed all this with Mom and was sure that she perfectly understood the situation and would have to agree with it, might even tell me how brilliant, patient and thoughtful I am.  Instead, in the teeny-tiniest toddler voice she said,”I guess this means the answer is no.”  Now, I think I want to go to Skull Island.


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