JewBu Quest: From Abuse to Happiness

JewBu: a Jew who practices forms of Buddhist meditation & spirituality. This blog documents my quest to 1) heal from sexual, verbal, and emotional abuse, 2) come to terms with losing Mom and Grandma to Alzheimers, 3) find balance, explore the spiritual, stay present. Bascially, I've experienced some pretty crappy shit in my life and want to find a way to move past it and find happiness.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Pain, Heartache, and Moms Positive Outlook

[Blogger keeps going to find function whenever I try to use the apostrophie above.]

It has been a rough couple of days. My aunt's sons have been really cold to both me and my mom. I've barely spoken with my aunt, but I don't feel a lot of warmth coming from her either. I think that Mom might be picking up on all of this, but I can't tell.

I have been spending 8-12 hour days with her since I got in town, and I'm just exhausted - especially since the only activities I see going on now at her ALF are Christmas themed, mostly carols, and so we often are banished to her room. The staff doesn't help at all with anything, and I've had to stop them multiple times from making big mistakes with her (like I noticed that she's having diahrea and fought with Dad to get her off her stool softner, and then they were still giving it to her AFTER he called in to say stop).

Yesterday, I woke up at 6am, just feeling really concerned that I would be the only one speaking at Grandma's funeral (other than the Rabbi), especially when I've based my talk around my Mom and my niece. I had heard that my cousin would speak on behalf of their side of the family, but he told my sister that he's not even that upset about losing Grandma, so he can't be bothered.

I went over to Mom's around 9am and spent an hour getting her dressed. Mom was happy to be looking so nice. I then drove her to my aunt's house (aka Grandma's house) to get the limo to take us to the funeral home. My aunt and her sons were busy getting ready, but I felt like they all kinda ignored me and Mom, but I didn't think much about it.

There were two limos - one for my aunt and her sons and the other for Mom, me, my sister, and her husband. On the way there, my sister told me that she and my mom's cousin would both also be speaking which made me feel a little better, but still nervous that no one from my aunt's side would say anything. Mom was very quiet the whole ride, and I took the opportunity to look over what I had prepared to say.

I was feeling a little shock when we arrived at the funeral home and parked just behind the hurse. I just kept staring at it and thinking that my grandmother's body was in there. We walked into a room with some furniture, which turns out is a "private room" next to where they do the funeral. There's a tv to watch what's happening and some open blinds next to the speaker. People came around to share their condolences, butI felt wierd that I couldn't even see who was there, and I had no idea what was going on. We eventually took seats on a couch just behind the speaker.

The Rabbi said some nice things about Grandma, and I appreciated that he included my comments about Grandma's work as a legal secretary before she got married and running a grocery store afterwards. I also felt good when he said that Grandma waited for ME.

After the ceremony, I came out with Mom to try to thank my one friend who came - the wife of my close friend from high school who live here - but she had left and instead we spoke to some of my parents' friends. My dad's close friend asked me where Dad was and was shocked when I told him that Dad wasn't coming to anything. But, we were quickly ushered back into the private room in order to do "kria" where Mom, her sister, and their aunt all ripped this ribbon that they'll wear all week to symbolize their grieving.

I took Mom to the bathroom and her pad was dirty, so I had to get my cousin to get my purse to get a clean pad- she had just gone an hour before so I hadn't thought about grabbing it. As soon as we finished, we had to hop back in the limo to go to the cemetary. The ride was very long - it felt like 20 minutes or more. My sister and I invited my grandmother's sister and her two daughters (one which I often refer to as Mom's cousin). So, that made the ride go pretty smoothly because Mom really adores them.

Everything really sunk in though when we hit the cemetary. We had to sit in the limo until the pall bearers brought my grandmother from the hearse to the grave. Then we all came and sat down (on top of my grandfather's grave). We watched as they put the casket into the ground. Mom turned to her aunt and said "she was always there for me." When I would ask her about her mom the last couple of days, that's what she would say. It was then that I knew that Mom understood what was happening. And that I finally felt what was happening. Jews are very morbid like this. We watched the casket go into the ground and then we all shovel dirt on top of it. I helped Mom do it, and then went back and did it for myself. I don't know how much over the last few days Mom has just been confused, and how much her saying over and over "its nice that we can be together" to family and friends is just her positive outlook about things.

As we left, I gave Mom a stone to put on her father's grave and did the same. She looked at it and moaned: "My father." Once I got her to the pavement, my sister took her, and I went back to have a moment with my other relatives: my great aunt and uncle, my father's parents. When we got back into the limo, my sister noted that the graves all have dead flowers next to them. Then my sister told me that my cousin came up to her after the funeral and said "Why didn't she talk about my Mom?" but apparently in a much more obnoxious way. He didn't get that I was talking about how I see Grandma in my mom, my niece, and myself BUT thought I was talking about taking care of Grandma. So he and his brothers and my aunt are all pissed off at me. I just felt heartbroken and angry; I JUST helped bury Grandma, and they're being critical of me.

We drove back to my aunt's house. My aunt, her sons, Mom, my sister and I all sat at the dining room table and ate. It was very awkward and the boys talked to each other but not to us. My aunt spoke a bit to my Mom. But, basically, I felt like it was me and my sister taking care of her. The house filled up with people, and after an hour and a half, I took Mom over to my sister's to rest. As we left, my aunt suggested that we return in two hours for dinner. I knew we had to be there in 3 and a half hours for shiva.

At my sister's house, it actually felt like we were a family more than any other time in recent history. I called my dad who came over to visit with my mom...although he spent more time talking with my brother in law and sister. We ended up ordering pizza over to my sister's place because we were all too exhausted to go back to my aunt's so soon.

When we returned for shiva, my aunt's place was packed. I was completely exhausted, as was Mom. My friend from the funeral showed up, and I was kinda shocked when my aunt went up to talk to her before she got over to say hi to me. My friend is an lawyer in the trust department at the bank where my grandmother's accounts are, and only at that moment did it become clear that she handles Grandma's accounts. I completely understand that she hadn't said anything to me, but it was very wierd feeling because both my dad and I have spoken to them about issues between him and my aunt, and Dad was even interested in getting her involved at one point because she's our friend, but decided we didn't want to put her in an awkward spot.

The service started with the Rabbi saying something like "At the funeral, we spoke about [Grandma], now we are going to talk a bit about [my aunt]." Then, my aunt's friend got up and spoke about how much my aunt did for Grandma and how much Grandma loved my aunt. I didn't think about it at the time, but how bad must this have made my mom feel to not at all be recognized for all of the things that she's done for Grandma over the years and to have it pointed out so publically that Mom help out like she used to.

When I called my sister later - twice before getting to actually talk to her - she told me that she's busy getting ready to have my aunt and cousins over. I gather that Mom and I aren't invited. I'm so frustrated with her since both she and her husband made the biggest deal about how we have to spend 24/7 with Mom, and they haven't spent any time with her when I wasn't there. I feel like I'm being left totally and completely with responsibility for Mom. And, I feel completely unwelcome at my aunt's place. BUT we have to go back tonight, tomorrow night, and Thursday night for Shiva. And then its Hanukah. And then we're moving Mom. And my sister's going out of town. I just feel really overwhelmed.

I'm going to take the day off and try to catch up a bit on work and email and laundry and whatever. I don't even know what the plan is for dinner tonight: are we expected to be at my aunt's or are we on our own? Dad said that he'll take us out to dinner if we want, and I told him that I don't even know at this point what to do. I don't know if Mom is picking up on the bad energy with her sister and her sons OR if she likes being over there. I asked Dad to try to talk to Mom this morning when he goes over to visit with her, to find out what she wants. Who knows though if she'll even remember yesterday.

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Blogger Gail Rae said...

The funereal flow of this post, Karma, is so overwhelming that I had to step away from it for a few minutes before I could come back and comment. Although I'm sure writing this post felt like stream of conscious scribbling to you, you've captured the brooding, exhausting character of "days like this" so well; including what often seems inevitable at funerals, even though we wish otherwise: The separation of family members into their individual grief and bitterness, rather than the coming together of individuals for solace.
I hope your holidays have some light from somewhere for you, this year, Karma.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006 5:57:00 PM  
Blogger Karma said...

Thanks Gail. I really appreciate your following of my blog. When you were away for a bit, I really missed it. There is light even in this time of sadness: my mother is such a sweet women with a consistent positive outlook. It really uplifts me.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006 7:56:00 PM  

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