As my longtime readers know, I spent a lot of time worrying about my mom, especially after she first moved here. Heck, the first night we left her alone in her new apartment, she fell and I found her on the floor the next morning. Not off to a rousing start.
But eventually, after a long time, I believed people when they told me that at any given moment, Chiquita was probably fine. The data proved it. USUALLY, she WAS fine.
How silly it is to WORRY so.
But sometimes, she’s not. Like this weekend.
I talked to her on the phone at 9:30 am Saturday morning. She got stuck on the couch at 10:00 am.
I went on with my day. Big Sis and Mr. Hoagie went to a birthday party. I took Little Sis to the playplace at McDonald’s and ordered myself an iced mocha. As I sipped my fancy-ass coffee and flipped through my Real Simple magazine (pining for an easier life), Chiquita was trapped in her own apartment with no way to get help.
I suck as a “caregiver.”
I called back to check in at 4:30 pm. No answer. It was completely possible that she’d left a few minutes early to go down to dinner at 5:00 pm. I told her in the message I left that I’d call back later that night.
I never did.
Why not? I got busy. The kids came home, we had dinner, opened Little Sis’ birthday gifts (two days later), watched a movie, put the kids to bed, and then ourselves to bed.
11:00 pm Saturday: “Oops. Forgot to call Mom back. Oh well. I don’t want to wake her. I’ll call in the morning.”
This is not unusual at all. Normal day. Stuff happens, you know?
So I called at 9:00 am. No answer. Cheerful message.
9:15 am. No answer. Another cheerful message, but call me back please, Mom.
9:20 am. “Mom, I’m coming over to check on you.”
She was stuck almost 24 hours. It makes me sick to think about.
She was on the floor…undressed, shaking a little. I didn’t know if it was from being cold or from not eating for so long.
“Mom, are you okay?!?” I don’t remember all the details, but she looked at me and talked to me (something about how she wondered how long it’d take me to figure it out), and I burst into tears. The panic, guilt…it hit me like a metro bus.
I got her a glass of water (she hadn’t eaten or drank anything since Friday night) and sat her up. I pulled the cord so a nurse would arrive.
How can she possibly forgive me? How can I forgive myself?
Why the hell isn’t there a pull cord in the MAIN ROOM of the apartment?
Why couldn’t she just learn to use the damn cell phone I bought her last year? I made her promise to keep it on her at all times in case of something like this. Course, she couldn’t even figure out how to turn the damn thing ON. This from a woman who did other people’s taxes for a living: she’s still sharp as a tack, people.
So now I’m looking into a medic-alert-type device to wear as a panic button around her neck. She had one at her old place near Chicago, and used it a handful of times.
If I worry too much, it’ll kill ME. But if I don’t worry enough, it just might kill HER.
So I guess it’s a fine line.