This weekend, B, Mama J and I ventured off on a road trip to New Iberia for a Father’s Day with B’s family. The trip proved to be harder on all of us than anyone could foresee.
For Mama J, I think, the strain of traveling, especially on the heels of a long visit with her friend from Missouri, manifested itself in fatigue (falling asleep at the dinner table), crankiness (bossing me around like nobody’s business or yelling STOP at the top of her lungs and scaring everyone half to death so that she could take a picture of Brian’s dad in his new shirt from the grandkids), confusion (back to writing double letters like “cucucumbers” or “teaspoonoon”), and inappropriate conversation in front of the grandkids (about breasts or washing private parts). Then she didn’t speak at lunch on Saturday at all, not one word.
My stress arose from trying to tend to her, fending off her crabbiness, worrying about whether she was okay, and still attempting to have a pleasant visit with the rest of the family. And in the wake of seeing me being distraught, Brian was getting more and more frustrated with her. He can’t stand it when she bosses me/us around (“We need to go to the store” or “Did we remember to check the mail?” instead of “Could you please go to the store for me?”), doesn’t respond to questions, or refuses to display any kind of happiness for us about the happy things going on in our lives. And it drives him crazy that my brother Mike (sorry, buddy) is her golden child, while I’m busting my fanny to help her and getting criticized for every little thing I do wrong. After we had gotten back to Baton Rouge, dropped her off, gone to the store for her, put away her groceries, and gone home, all of these multiple stressors resulted in unkind words passed between B and me, I’m ashamed to say, later forgiven by both parties.
All of that is to say that emotions were still running a little high this morning when I got a call from Mama J about her morning caregiver. Did someone call you about a change of caregiver, she wanted to know? A strange lady had shown up at her house this morning. Nope. So I looked on her caregiver calendar, and lo and behold, there is a new person listed, beginning today, as her permanent caregiver.
After a number of phone calls back and forth to the caregiver service, I finally learned that Cynthia, Mama J’s apparently former caregiver, had requested a new assignment closer to her home. I understand completely. Who doesn’t want to save on gas and time? But no one had bothered to tell us. And Cynthia had not told Mama J that she was looking for another client.
Let me just say that Mama J loved Cynthia. I get that it’s a paid professional relationship, but Mama J viewed Cynthia as a friend. Mama J doesn’t make friends easily, and Cynthia was a special part of her life. She cared about Cynthia. They laughed together, every single day. They bossed each other around. Mom baked a cake for Cynthia’s grandson’s graduation. She sent cookies with Cynthia for Cynthia’s other client, a man who had taken to asking about Mama J just as she did about him. She was happy, and so very grateful to have found such a gem. It was a community. It was personal.
But it’s also personal that the agency didn’t tell us about the change (an employee has since called me to take blame and apologize) and even more so that Cynthia didn’t have the nerve to tell Mama J in person. Who does that? I have been in tears all morning about this. Mama J might be a crabby, bossy, difficult old lady sometimes, but she sure as heck doesn’t deserve to get treated like this.
Now I get to go to her house at lunch and tell her a lie, that Cynthia was reassigned, because I can’t bear to tell her the truth, that she was evidently “just” another client … and it wasn’t personal after all.
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