It all started on Friday when my sister called me from her car.
"Hey Hausfrau, Mom called and told me that her car was stolen."
I laughed. Rude, right?
"Is she SURE? Did she call the police?"
"Well," said sister "Mom said that she hasn't called the police yet because she's tired and hasn't had a bath."
"Of course. Did she speak to the management office of her apartment complex?" I asked.
"She said she did, but she also mentioned something about the fact that the maintenance crew is paving the parking lots."
"Oh, maybe they towed it--wouldn't they have told her that if she called the office?" I said.
My sister was obviously frustrated with the whole thing and busy and, well, DRIVING. I told her that something wasn't right and that I would call the office.
I spoke to Jennifer the office manager and asked her if they had started to tow cars due to the paving. She said that they wouldn't tow cars--they would simply go to the residents and get their keys and move the cars for them if they weren't moved by a certain time. At that point I asked her if my mom had called her to report a stolen car. Jennifer said that she had not spoken to my mom at all, but she would call the two maintenance guys to confirm and call me right back. Ten minutes later, she called to say that they had found her car in the next parking lot over and that they had stopped by Mom's apartment to tell her and that she was happy.
I knew THAT wasn't true. I knew my mom would be pissed that I had called the office to have them look for her car because that would mean that I caught her in a lie about calling them to begin with.
I called my sister back to tell her that they had found the car. She said she knew because Mom was on the other line and she sounded angry. A few minutes later, my sister called me back to say that Mom had walked around and had found her car and felt really stupid because she didn't remember moving it on Thursday night. She had just gotten back to her apartment when the two maintenance guys knocked on her door to tell her that they, too, found her car. She had yelled at my sister for having me call the maintenance guys. I told my sister that Mom had lied a second time to her because she is physically unable to walk out of her apartment, go down the stairs, walk outside and look for her car, go back up the stairs and get into her apartment in the 10 minutes this all went down.
My sister and I spoke for awhile about our concerns that she has now lost track of Thursday, apparently drove her car and doesn't remember any of it. We weren't sure if she had been drunk or perhaps had a stroke. Sis said she would be heading to LaPorte after her vacation in the Adirondacks next week and would try to get her in to see her doctor. I tried calling Mom all weekend, but she wouldn't answer the phone because that is what all mature mothers do when they are mad at their daughters.
My cell phone rang at work this morning and it was my sister again, starting off a conversation with, "I think we have a MAJOR problem with Mom."
At this point, I only heard about every third word of the conversation because my sister is in the mountains. From what I could glean was that my mom had asked that she call every night to let her know that she was safe on her trip (my sister has never driven this far by herself before and she is going to be camping in the woods with her boys, etc.) Apparently my sister called Saturday and spoke to my Mom. On Sunday, my sister got to our relative's house rather late in the evening. Our cousin said that Mom had called there three times FRANTIC because she hadn't heard from Michelle AT ALL on her trip. Michelle called her and basically said, "WTF?" I guess Mom started to hysterically cry.
By this point, I couldn't hear much more of what my sister was saying so I told her I would try to call Mom and try to find out what is wrong. I called Mom once and left a long message, hoping she would pick up but she didn't. I called a second time and left a longer, rambling message:
"Hi Mom, it's Hausfrau. Look, Sis and I are very worried about you, and I need you to pick up the phone. She said that you called her and were crying, you don't remember driving in your car on Thursday--we're just really worried. Here is my office number...here is my cell number...please call me--we are very worried about the fact that you have lost track of a couple of days--"
Mom got on the phone and in a voice that sounded like a low growl, she said, "It was ONE day that I don't remember!"
"But Mom, Sis said you don't remember talking to her on Saturday and you don't remember driving your car on Thursday-that's two days."
"IT WAS ONE DAY--Saturday that I don't remember--not two days! My car WAS stolen!"
"But Mom, listen to me--"
"Fuck you. I don't want you to call me anymore."
And she hung up on me.
After recovering from the shock of my mother telling me to fuck off and hanging up on me, I decided to call my friend Nicole who is quite logical and would be able to honestly tell me if I had that coming. She was also aware of the car episode from Friday.
"Hey Nicole, if you called your mom today and told her that you were a crack whore, would she tell you to, 'Fuck off' and hang up on you?"
OK--what if you called her and told her that you were going to start dealing meth--would she tell you to 'fuck off' then?"
"No, I can't imagine too many things that would make my mom say those words to me."
"What if you killed someone?"
"No, no she wouldn't."
While part of me was heartbroken that my mother said those words to me, a part of me was relieved. My sister and I have dealt with her depression, her illnesses, her bitterness, her lies, her wrath, her anger, her drunkenness, and her despair for seven long years. I have been so tempted to walk away--my sister even did so for several months a few years ago. I was angry when she did it, but I didn't blame her. It is incredibly sad to deal with a person who has pushed every friend and relative away. She has burned so many bridges--the only two left standing are my sister and me. And while I would love to do nothing more than walk away from this mess that she has created, I know that my mother raised me right. She raised us to finish the job and take care of family. I was also raised to not drop the F-Bomb, but that's neither here nor there.
Later in the day I was on a conference call and saw that my Mom was calling in on my cell phone. I didn't play the message right away because I figured that either A) She was going to yell at me some more or B) She was going to start the call off with, "Hi Honey--it's been forever since we talked. What have you been up to?" Instead, the message was a very tearful apology. She asked me to "please, please, please forgive" her and that she is in "trouble." She also mentioned that she will have my sister help her with the "trouble" when she comes to visit this weekend. I called her right back and she started to cry. She insisted that the car was stolen and returned and that she wasn't crazy, but that she knows that not remembering Saturday was a problem. She also said that she is ready to go into a nursing home. That's what she wants my sister to help her with. I told her that while I agree that an assisted living situation is probably a good idea, we would need to talk to her doctor. I asked her if she had seen Dr. Chuck lately.
It was at that moment that Mom told me that she has lung cancer and she has 8-10 weeks left. She has known for three weeks and hasn't told anyone. She wants to go into a nursing home so that my sister and I aren't burdened with her "mess." I asked her if she was considering treatment of any kind and she said no. She said she is done. She also said that I am not to tell my sister and ruin her vacation. I told her that she needs to tell Sis before she leaves to go back to Michigan on Sunday or I will. In the meantime, I have placed a call to my Mom's doctor to verify what she has said. I have Medical Power of Attorney, so they should be able to tell me. While it's not that I don't believe her, I want to make sure her story is straight. After all, she lost track of Thursday and Saturday.