At the end of the last full month that she spent alive, my mother wound up contracting a severe case of opportunistic pneumonia. We thought that she had begun to spit out the apple juice that I had been feeding her, come to find out that the liquid in question was actually coming from her lungs — I knew enough from various biology and nursing courses that I had taken, getting my associate’s degree in it, to be able to keep her airway clear so that my dad could get everything ready to take her to the emergency room (knowing the back roads in this city well enough to be able to get her there quicker than an ambulance would, and knowing that I could keep her from aspirating on her own fluid as I had begun to demonstrate this for him).
In what would become our last meaningful conversation prior to this, I actually had to tell my mother that she was no longer allowed to have conversations with me that did not center around caregiving needs or requests because I was tired of her weaponizing these conversations — her way of getting around not letting Bub know how she felt about him was to let me know how she felt about him, and the straw that broke the camel’s back again was her asking me “when I would (give up and) institutionalize the sub-human piece of shit”. So I told her that under no circumstances would we have conversations beyond that point unless they had to do with caregiving, and that was it. She then tried to have a civil conversation with me, because I guess I wasn’t a sub-human piece of shit. I reminded her that I had laid down the boundary of absolutely no conversations unless they were centered around caregiving. She didn’t make another attempt.
She also knew that based on the hateful things that she had continued to say about Bub in the months that had elapsed until I laid down the boundary that she was no longer permitted to have conversations with me that did not center around caregiving that I would not miss her when she did pass, and that it was a direct result of the things that she continued to say about my child, singling him out and insisting that I know her opinions on him, while I did provide care to her. She did not appear to be bothered by this at all. Not one bit.
It was though it did not bother her that it would not bother me when she did pass, and the reason that it would not bother me when she did pass was completely because of her treatment of one of my children…
And we had to get to this point, and the reason that we had to get to this point was because of her.
At any rate, I was helping her keep her airways clear, both of my children happened to come in the room.
I told her that she would fight for them, because they did not need to be traumatized by seeing something happen to her. It was about them at this point. (She could die in the hospital, but she wasn’t going to die in front of them in a manner that would scar them. I was determined to see that through.) She looked at me as though waiting for me to add myself on, to ask her to fight for me as well. And she continued to look at me. I did not add myself on. The look on her face made it clear that she realized the subtext. She had not yet apologized to Bub even though she had, then, months where she had many lucid periods and could have…
I was not asking her to fight for me. I was not going to ask her to fight for me. We were sadly past that point.