Saturday, December 11, 2010


"I need to get into the crawl space. Where's the entrance?”

The goofy “cable guy” said. I thought he was joking. The serious one was already high on the ladder installing the dish while this one loitered around.

“Um, there isn't one.” I replied.

“What's that?” he pointed at the little "windows" at the base of the house and asked.

“Yeah, it looks like there is a crawl space, but you can't get into it.” I assured him.

He looked at me funny, but I put his suspicion to rest firmly: “I've lived here for thirteen years, and I have never seen an entrance to it.”

He went into the house and opened the storage space under the stairs.

"There's the entrance.” He pointed at the floor.

I looked down and, as if appeared solely by magic, a square-shaped dark seam on the floor mocked me with silent cracks.

It's true. You learn something new everyday.

Thank goodness I was small enough to crawl into the storage and pulled most of the stuff out so he could get down there. Then I cleared out the closet so he could climb into the attic and do his job.

I knew that entrance.

All the stuff had to go back to where they belonged and the dust had to be cleaned. These were not in the “cable guys” job descriptions. It would've saved me a lot of grieve had I known what was in store for me.

I was a little tired but excited after cleaning up all the mess. Time to reveal the surprise to mom.

“Look, ma. Now you have nine channels to watch instead of one. Merry Christmas!” I was so proud of myself. Her only activity--watching TV--would be a lot more interesting from now on.

Or so I thought.

I then tried to teach her how to use the new remote, and that was when things went downhill.

There were four buttons with which she needed to get herself familiarize.

On—you turn the TV on with it.

Off—as the name suggested, you turn the TV off with it.

Up—go up a channel.

Down—go down a channel.

Those, and remembering her channels start at 2050.

Simple enough, right?

She tried it a few times and couldn't get it right. She lost her patience promptly and told me she never watched those channels, she wanted her old channel back and to cancel the cable right away.

When will I ever learn? Why did I try to get her a comparable life here when I knew she was not the appreciative type, and would say anything when angry?

Two days later she wanted me to teach her again on the channels. By that time I lost my patience and good wills. I'm paying for the satellite channels, and somebody was going to watch them. She can stick with her one and only channel upstairs.

Unfortunately, She figured out how to switch back to air channels by watching me, and now watches her one channel on the big screen downstairs.

I think she did it just to aggravate me, which probably gave her certain degree of enjoyment, and she was succeeding.

It's amazing how, with the right amount of incentive, whether positive or negative, a person who couldn't do or learn anything can achieve the impossible.


  1. Sarah, that last sentence is perfect. I'm sorry for your frustrations. Your mom is a challenging one, indeed. I hope you're able to enjoy all 9 channels, at least. xo

  2. You are being tested. Do not lose your sense of humor. You will need every ounce of it.

  3. I second what Bruce said...Breathe in, breathe out, in and're already wayyy more patient than me, Sarah. Good luck!

  4. Robyn - I got the international channels for her. I don't really care for those programs. :(

    Bruce - I'm reminding myself everyday this is a test, this is only a test.

    Sarah - thanks. I can really use that breathing technique nowadays. :)

  5. Sarah ~ I so completely understand every ounce of what you wrote. It was just last year that my dad was still here living with us. I never thought I would say this but I'd give anything to have him here with me again. When he was alive however, I wanted to choke him most days.

    Listen friend, you MUST take care of yourself first. The best way to care for your mom is to care for yourself first. It's like being on a plane that is going down. What do they say about putting your own oxygen mask on first so you can better care for the others around you? It's a true statement as a caregiver. True as can be.

    Love your mom but live your life. It's not your job to make her happy. It's hers. Let her own her happiness or misery.

    I sound so bossy but I've been where you're at and I care about you.

  6. Marla - thanks, my friend. I know what you and others said was true, that I have to take care of myself. I guess I need to get pass the quilty feeling that I plugged her out of her elements and put her in a strange place with me.

  7. Oh, my dear, sweet friend! It is only the beginning! Bruce is right! Do not lose that sense of humor. Remember that the parent has become the child, now! It is like potty training your dog. You have to be patient and consistent, and no hitting with the rolled up newspaper, OR the remote control!

    Her life has been all about her for quite a while now, so don't take things the wrong way. If worst comes to worst, there is always "the home."

  8. Judie - I don't feel so bad after Marla said most of the days she just wanted to choke him (her dad, while he was alive) but "the home" may not be good for my mom. I guess we'll see. I'll try to remember "no hitting with the remote" part!

    hot girl - thanks for visiting.

  9. Look, Sarah--your mom has had her life, and now it is your turn. If worst comes to worst, "the home" is not a bad option. She could make life-long friends there for all you know. She might even like it, since she wouldn't have to deal with the remote. Don't strike it off the list. Remember, you can also use it as a threat if she gets too cranky!

  10. Judie - I do like the idea of using it as a threat. Watch out, mom...

  11. My mother was always saying she didn't want to be a burden on her children. When she decided she could no longer live alone, my sister said there was NO WAY that Mother could live with her. I told her she could live with me, but she declined that offer because she knew she would have to live by my rules. So she went to live with my younger brother and his family. She proceeded to make everyone's life miserable. Sometimes the best place to be is in assisted living! Eventually the whining stops!

  12. The last sentence is a wonderful observation that applies to my mother also.

  13. Judie, I remember that about your mom, and while it was very big of you to make the offer, let's just thank goodness she didn't take it. You'll probably strangle her or vice versa. :)

    Kitty - isn't it strange how they do that? If only they all use it on positive things...!

  14. Have a great Christmas, Sarah. Your readers adore you.

  15. Hang in there! You are on a tough journey right now. Remember to take care of YOU as well as your mother. And yes, please remember to see the humor in all things as hard as it may be at times. Using your blog to journal/vent/share this road you are on with your mother surely can help a bit and be an outlet for you as well.

    My grandmother LOVED the assisted living program where she lived during her last year.

    Take care of yourself!

  16. Angie - thanks for the encouraging words. I'm hanging in there, sometimes by a thin thread...assisted living won't work because it will cost around 4 to 5k a month.



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