“Wyrd biõ ful ãræd.”

Friday, March 13, 2015

It's not easy being the Patriarch of an extended family.



It's not a job you get elected to, either.  You get there by being the oldest surviving male in your extended family.

Southerners are very clannish people. Maybe it comes from so many of them being Scotch Irish (or Scots Irish, if you are a Brit).  Maybe it stems from Southern culture, which has not yet been eradicated by the government hive dwellers, despite their strenuous efforts to do so. The Old South still lives in the rural areas of the Southern U.S.   It's a strongly patriarchal society.

What this means for me is that I get involved in family issues outside those pertaining to my own wife and kids. Just handling my own family doings would be challenging, but when you throw in my  mother, my three siblings, and their numerous progeny it gets to weighing on a fellow sometimes.

Right now, we are dealing with my 87 year old mother, and the decisions that entails.  It is shaking out that my sister (who is widowed and retired) is going to move to the town in Oregon where one of my brothers lives. Then my mom is going to live with my sister.  But I have another brother who feels like I need to do more myself to take care of mom. I have offered to have her come live here with us, but she needs medical specialists that are five minutes away in the Oregon town and 3 hours away here. She doesn't like my town, because there are no fancy little botiques and no lattes, but in my brothers town, which is a college town, she can find all the stores and fancy cafes she wants.

I tell you though, if I could resign my position as oldest living male and let my middle brother run the show, he could have it and welcome to it.

25 comments:

  1. yikes Harry - this is not a position i would wish anyone in to! but if your mother wants to live with your sister in your brother's town - then it's her decision.

    maybe offer that position to your middle brother...sounds like he wants it.

    i know it's easy for an outsider to offer an opinion, i also know it is much harder to be in this position for real. i feel for you, my friend. i really do.

    your friend,
    kymber

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    1. Well, my youngest brother is ok with having mom living in his town. It's not as easy as it sounds, because she is very high maintenance. She has to be driven around to all her places she likes to go. As with many older people, she is fixated on her health and spends a lot of time in different doctors offices because she is sure she has this or that problem when she really doesn't. It's difficult to get her to make a decision about anything, because she says she "can't deal with it" but then she doesn't like the decisions the family makes. She had a nice house in a retirement community in Sacramento, right near all the doctors that cater to the elderly, and she had lots of friends there. But she decided she wanted to be "nearer" to the rest of the family and all of my siblings and most of my nephews and nieces have long since bailed out of California with it's hideous taxes and it's welfare state mentality.

      My middle brother and I see eye to eye on exactly nothing. But that's the way it goes.

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  2. good luck. my brother and i don't talk, and the same with my step dad. i only worry about my wife, 5 kids and grandson.

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    1. Well, finding a solution to the "mom" issue, that all my brothers and my sister, and all their kids, will agree with is hard. Nobody wants mom in a "home" but I feel for my sister, because if mom is living with her, then my sister will be a sort of servant. Nor do I particularly envy my brother that already lives in that town, because every time a light bulb needs to be changed, or a spider shows up, he will have to go over to my sisters and take care of it. But my brother there has a good old fashioned wife, who has always been kind to my mom and will help take care of her, so it seems the best as they can all share the job. There is some resentment against me because I live back here in Georgia, but I told them more than 30 years ago this day would come and when it did they shouldn't expect me to be on an airplane to California every time mom decides she is being neglected . My mom keeps a pretty good attitude in general but she has "whiny" days like everybody else.

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    2. It sounds like your brother may have some growing up to do. I always say that you never stop learning until the day you die and even then I not sure the process stops. Had my own family issues with my mom and sister, we worked it out but only after not talking for over two years. And I'm the one taking care of the mother-in-law who THANKFULLY moved into a retirement home last year!!!! Oh, boy do I feel your pain as she never learned how to drive :):):)

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  3. I'd offer the position to the brother, but tell him that since you're the eldest, he still owes you the respect of not bothering in YOUR business.

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    1. Georges, it's more like being chairman of the board. Everybody weighs in with their opinions, and everybody has a say, then we try to reach a mutually acceptable decision. But, with so many different attitudes in play about every subject, what can happen is that someone (usually middle brother) is dissatisfied and manifests that in one of the unpleasant ways people do.

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  4. Hey Harry,

    (captaincrunch)

    As you know I have only one relative left. No brothers, sisters, no one else. Sometimes I think of it as a curse and a blessing at the same time.

    I the one that will the caretaker of that relative. That's already decided. I will of course give the best care possible.

    When my time comes, I wont have anyone taking care of me when I get old. That mean I can spend my last days in a Mexican Brothel or riding a horse alone in the desert like an old cowboy.

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    1. CC, what really happens when you get pretty old is that you can't take care of yourself. You can't remember things, you don't make good decisions, and you are an easy mark for any rip off artist who comes down the track. The problem with having no family is that when you start reaching that age, the state will get involved and you will wind up with all your assets being taken to "pay" for "care" in some hell hole of government facility where they leave you laying in your own excrement and you eventually are covered with bed sores. I'd start looking for a young (and faithful) wife, myself. You know from your travels overseas that Asian women are best about that.

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  5. It sounds like you have an active 87 year old mom whose mind is made up. Perhaps that is what your brother is re-acting to?

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    1. She's in the process of moving right now.

      There were disagreements about the best way to handle the move. Should my sister buy a house, or rent one. If she buys, is she going to stay there if mom has to go to assisted living? How much of the cost should mom pay, since my sister would have to buy a bigger house. Why is renting better than buying, since you don't build up equity in a rental. Big differences of opinion within the family on lots of the nuts and bolts things. Also, my mom is very close to her grandchildren and great grandchildren, all of whom were involved in all this. Building a consensus, especially when some of the individuals involved are aggrieved if they have to help make a decision and mad if their point of view is not hailed by the masses, is tough.

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  6. Hey Harry,

    (captaincrunch)

    off topic....

    The weather finally broke and the sun came out along with temps. in the 70's.

    Spring Break started here yesterday on Padre Island. The Spring Break mischief was not only confined on the beach, but has migrated to the local Walmart with two white trash misfits (one in a wheelchair but still capable of walking) and another on foot and three police cars. What the problem was I don't know. What I do know is they were 'strait out of the trailer park' with the attitude and everything.

    I fired the CZ 452 .22 rifle yesterday.

    It was flawless.

    out of 15 shots, 15 bulls eyes at 25 yards.

    Sunday if I have time, I will try the 100 yards.

    The rifle came with that Nikko Sterling Scope and was already sighted in and accurate at 25 yards (note the rifle was used in mint condition when I purchased it)

    I used CCI ammo.

    I was actually getting bored with making bulls eye after bulls eye. Yeah' I know its only a .22 but in hard times, I can use the rifle to knock squirrels out of trees.

    I wanted to mention too that I had to pick up another battery yesterday. This one was on the four runner. It had a bad cell after only two years of age. I dodged another battery purchase last month on the truck when it was a starter going out. Now I think I should join a 'battery of the year club' like a 'book of the month club' were they just send you the battery you need once a year at a discount.

    Too make it easier to understand. Two years ago, a battery on the four runner. One year ago, a battery on the truck. This year another battery on the four runner. I did purchase the best one I could get for the four runner from Interstate Battery.

    Two years ago I got the old battery from the Toyota dealer (that was an error) I called and told them what was going on and they said that I would have to wait (about three hours) for the charging system checked and if it was the battery, they would replace it. If not I would be out $95 dollars for the check.

    I took the four runner to Interstate Battery (where I should have gone in the first place) and they (checked it for free) and installed the battery (for free) after a two minute wait and I paid $124 for the battery with a free two year replacement and pro rate up too six years.

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    1. I need to get out and do some shooting, too. It's been wet though, and it's raining again today. I'm going into town to get my medicines today, but that's all I have to do.

      I always buy interstate batteries. They seem to hold up well and the price is modest compared to some of them. My truck takes two monster batteries to run, but I get several years out of them.

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  7. That's so hard. I have watched my parents go through similar things. My mom is especially struggling with the issue right now w/ her siblings and the decline of their mom. Not easy for anyone.
    I do have some Irish. I have the hand blown shot glass that my great great great grandmother brought over on the boat with her when she came. She drank a shot of whiskey before bed every single night.

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    1. I think it's an inevitable thing that everybody has to deal with at some time. It could be worse, my mom is still fairly clear in her mind. The men in my family, it doesn't work that way. My great grandfather, my grandfather, and my dad all went the dementia route. Odds are I will too. That's really hard for a family to cope with, since it means putting "dad" in the "home" and even the one's that cost $3000 a month are really just prisons with strong arm guys in white scrubs to keep the oldsters from wandering off or getting hurt. I think the European model is a lot better. You just take a pill when you realize that's the track you are on, and you die with dignity instead of becoming a source of guilt, anger and impoverishment for your family.

      You look like you have some Celtic blood, so I figured probably Irish.

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  8. Same here, there is no way my mom would come live out here unless she was 100% incapacitated. Doctors are at least 30 minutes away which doesn't sound like much until you need them several times a week and can't drive. We have 1 gas station, 2 bar & grills which would not be the sort of place she would enter and then a Dollar General. She goes to symphony type concerts, eats at fine restaurants, organizes galas, etc. She would simply curl up and die out here if she had to clean a coop or burn trash. She sometimes forgets that my husband is a blue collar construction worker who burns trash when she discusses unacceptable people that live in her area. We just smile.

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    1. Your mom and my mom should get together. It sounds like they have a lot in common.

      When my mom came to visit several years ago, I took her to the restaurant in town that I like best. She raised an almighty fuss , loudly, because when she ordered a "latte" the waitress told her they didn't have that. I am still embarrassed when I go in there and see that waitress.

      She will be happy in Oregon because with the university there, she can enjoy the environment and have all the fancy little coffees she wants. She told me when she was here "Oh,Harry, I could never live in this place."

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  9. Yes families can be a royal PITA that way. Just cause you are blood relatives they think you should do as they think. That never worked for me. And when things don't work out they play the guilt trip thing and try to lay the blame on you. Talk about ff-ing things up! It is sad, but I find that keeping contact limited to the barre minimum and nothing more is best. I really envy those that have a good relation with their kin. But I also realize there is only so much control I have over it and am simply not willing to take the blame for their bad choices.

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    1. Well, when my mom is situated or she has passed on, there won't be many reasons that we would all have to have a big pow wow and agree on something. As it is, my two brothers and I are often butting heads. I regret it, but I can live with it. It just isn't a lot of fun.

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  10. hi ,harry,
    mom has alzheimer's, et cetera but is physically in good shape for almost 90.
    this decision is your mother's and your bro will just have to swallow it.
    your other bro, his wife and your sister sound like a good team.
    the area agency on ageing can recommend help if the family need a break.
    get a couple of trustworhties who don't mind a bit of crotchetiness and need bit of extra cash occasionally.
    then your sister can take a weekend or a day or a few hours for herself.
    if i didn't have my daughter to spell me i would die of exhaustion.
    mom is fine today but in the middle of last night!! probably a TIA but no fun.
    none of us except my husband got a full night of sleep.
    thanks to God mom qualifies for paid daycare and is in the care of the Maronite Antonine Sisters for 8 hours a day and there is a lovely bus driver, Lenny, who picks her up and delivers her.
    i am so Thankful.
    i am 66 myself and it was too much for me.
    thank You, God!!
    also you have involved family, but my bro is on the other side of the country and would probably more or less abandon her in a home if she were dependent on him
    it is great that your mom is so active. really it is. be thankful.
    as for your part, maybe you could contribute to the pay of a companion if your mom hires one.
    just a few nosy thoughts and suggestions.
    deb h.

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    1. I suppose everyone has to handle this issue if their parents live long enough. It can be tough but it's something that can't be ignored.

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  11. As to your brother, it never fails to amaze me how much people are willing to mentally volunteer others to do.

    Seems like this is a pretty good plan for Mom.

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    1. It will work out and at least we can are reaching a solution that's generally acceptable to all the players. There's bound to be some friction over something like this .

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  12. Harry,

    Your mother has made her choice on where she would like to live. Ultimately, your Mom is capable of making her own decisions. I would say, if your Mom couldn't help herself or make her own decisions, that is when the family needs to step in.
    Don't feel bad about your Mom's choice, you offered her the opportunity to live up there with you and your wife. She declined, and decided to move with your sister.
    Things will work out, and as usual there will be friction with some family members. Don't stress, the decision was already made by your Mom.

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    1. I think it's more having to coordinate and negotiate than anything else. I like to make my own decisions, based on my own thoughts. Having to "deal" and compromise is not my style at all, so it is aggravating. But at this point, the decision is made, mom has pronounced herself happy, and as for any residual resentment over it, too bad. I almost never see my family out there anyway. Used to be every two or three years my brothers and I would get together. My middle brother put together a camping trip or an exploring trip, usually in New Mexico or Eastern Oregon, somewhere like that, and we all went. Those were fun. But as we got older it got harder to do, and we haven't done one in years. So the fact that one or the other of them is mad about this or that is water off a ducks back to me.

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