Standing On A Chair

Telling it like I see it…

Rants from the Chair: On Moving in with Mother – Episode Two: Opened Windows and Closed Doors

There have been times when I’ve called my octogenarian mother by her first name, ‘Troy.’  I usually do it when I’m sent to the outermost edge of sanity because of something she’s said or done.

When I lived with her, this was a common occurrence.  I had just moved in with Mom in February of 2005, and now it was March.  We were still trying to work out the “kinks” in our new relationship as “roommates.”

Springtime in my town is gorgeous.  It’s a time when you can actually turn off your central air system and throw open the windows to sweet-smelling, humidity-free air, the sound of thousands of chirping birds, and a dazzling view of azaleas and dogwood trees in full bloom.

But my mother did not like opened windows.

It took me a few tries to realize what a lost cause this would be.  I would run through the house, opening every window I could find, whereupon Troy would run around smack behind me, closing them back up again.  The hardest part was the accompanying temperature war.  I lost that battle too.  So while it was gorgeous and 75 degrees outside, by damn that thermostat setting was going to stay at 85 degrees.

The screened-in porch was always a fine place to be, but lacking in quiet and privacy.  So I took to my room whenever I could.  With the door closed, the central air vent blocked off and my newly installed ceiling fan turned up high, plus a window ever-so-slightly cracked open (“I swear to God, Mom, it’s only open a sliver!”), I could actually find some comfort, believe it or not.

On one such morning, I grabbed with glee just a few hours to read in my room.  I was on a Dean Koontz jag at the time, knocking back one right after the other for about a year straight.  Anyway, there was a “thump-thump” on my bedroom door.

Troy:    (talking through the closed-door) The plumber is here to fix the problem in the disposal.

Me:      (talking from my bed through the closed-door) Good going, Mom.

Troy     Why is your door closed?

Me:      Because I am reading.

Troy:    Oh.

About ten minutes later:  knock-knock-knock, jiggle-jiggle-jiggle

Troy:    Jill, why is this door locked?

Me:      (getting up and opening the door) Because I’m reading.

Troy:    But what if I can’t get in, or you can’t get out?

Me:     Troy, please, can I just read for a couple hours without interruption?

Troy:    (walking away) I just don’t like this door locked, Jill!

While thinking this can’t possibly be really happening, I closed the door, locked it, got back into bed, and re-read the same page yet one more time, when…

Troy:    (talking again through the closed-door) Jilly, are you all right?

Finally on the verge of exploding, I threw my book at the foot of the bed, got up, stomped across the room, and forcefully unlocked and opened the door, when…

Troy:    (fists on hips) You don’t like me. You’re being odd.

Thus began the first of my many attempts to explain to her that me closing my door does not mean I don’t love her, it just means that I need to feel like I’m being by myself for a little while. 

But my mother did not like closed doors.

And so she just never quite got it.


March 6, 2012 - Posted by | A Very Big Mistake, Aging, Dementia, Family Life | , , , , , , ,

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