“Kerry, I know you mean well,” Tom began, “but the things you’re doing aren’t helping. Mom and Dad can’t live by themselves anymore.”
I swiveled nervously in my chair. “When I’m visiting, I’m the only one who’s actually living with them, Tom, and watching their behavior. I think if you just…”
Tom interrupted, “Look, the problems are bigger than any of us can manage. One more missed medication and Mom could be dead. I don’t think you want that. And the junk is just piling up inside the house because neither can keep it clean. Mom can’t even go up and down the stairs anymore because she’s out of breath.” I held my tongue as he continued, “So Donna and I go over to try to clean up the place and Mom gets angry at us for throwing away all her papers. And then nobody wants to talk to each other.”
“Well, what about a cleaning service? We can just hire a maid,” I proposed, staring blankly at my computer screen as I imagined the inside of my parents’ cluttered home.
“And do what? Have someone else throw away her stuff, which will still make Mom mad?”
“The maid could at least wash the dishes,” I retorted.
“It’s not that simple. Dad can’t keep up the outside, so I have to go over there and mow his grass or fix things when they break. So Donna and/or I are driving over there at least once or twice a week, sometimes more, to help them. That’s a three-hour drive, round trip. If we spend two or three hours working on something while we’re there…that’s half a day. Donna and I both work. We’ve got our own place to take care of, and our family. We can’t keep doing this.”
“Oh, so this is about you?” I challenged. There was a pause in our conversation as I had second thoughts about what I’d said, and Tom contemplated his response.