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September Surrender: Day 17

What I’m Letting Go: Where the Heart Is

I can’t do it. I can’t put my mother in a home. I won’t do it. My dad agrees. So does my aunt. She and I visited a couple of nursing homes yesterday, and we were both saying how we just couldn’t see my mom in them. Not that they weren’t nice or competent facilities, we just can’t picture it. My mom doesn’t belong there. She belongs here at home. And that’s exactly where she’s going to stay.

Only my role is about to get a whole lot bigger. I’ll be a caretaker too, because I’m going to be coming home a lot more often now. At least once a week, maybe twice. We’re bringing in medical professionals to help a couple times a week, and getting all new furniture delivered. And it’s going to happen soon. Because it has to. It’s imperative. Mom’s in bed and she needs to be taken care of. We can do it together with help and we won’t have to leave her anywhere. These are ideas that just seem to fit into place and nothing anyone can say is going to change that.

I’m still going to Italy as far as I know. That’s why we’ve got to be so quick to act. Because this is my life now. I have to let go of any other life I could be leading right now, because what’s taking priority is my mom. I don’t even know what else I’ve actually been doing, anyway. I’m happy to help. In fact, just today, I cleared out a whole back corner of my childhood bedroom. It took about three-and-a-half hours total and a whole lot of stuff got done. I’m even bringing some things home to New York: a few childhood knick-knacks and a whole of lot refrigerator magnets. And a belt my father bought my mother in the East Village back in 1978.

The room is still very much full, but my father and I both felt the renewed sense of vigor getting put into the family. It’s a whole new plane of existence. My mom needs care. So we’re doing it. And if I have to put whatever else I had going on at the moment on pause now, then so be it. I’m happy to. I’m excited to. Because I know my mom is in the best place she could possibly be: home. Right where she and I and everyone else belongs.

What I’ve Discovered: Buried Treasure of One’s Self

There is so much junk in this third room. I only made a small dent, but every little bit helps. Anywhere you can actually see the floor is a milestone at this rate. There’s at least some order to the chaos now. VHS tapes are stacked in one bookshelf nook. My grade school art projects and work notebooks are all in a milk carton under the desk. The hundreds of DVDs are stacked neatly on the table. Things are being thrown out, paper and cardboard is being recycled. I would spend all day there if I could, but there is no working lamp and I ran out of daylight. It was an overcast day after all.

It was kind of funny seeing all these old photos from my time at Catholic school. I didn’t have time to go through all of them, but I saw enough to bring back those memories. I’m saving a lot, but it’s essentially a storage room anyway. Plus I can’t ger rid of all the nice things people have said about me over the years.

I found a few messages here and there, comments my teachers made on my report cards about what a pleasant and bright student I was, that I’m creative and smart and am a joy to be around. I got a lot of A’s, too, so I guess I was a smart kid. There was also a letter from the woman who was my boss during my HBO internship. I almost couldn’t believe this referral she wrote me. She said I was the best intern she or HBO ever had, that I accomplished so much during my time there, and my creativity and drive was through-the-roof impressive. I look at myself right now and think, “Me? Driven? What an absolute wackadoo.” But I know she sincerely meant every word written on that paper.

I also found a scrapbook my high school friend had made me after our two weeks at UPenn fencing camp. She compiled all our memories, cut out photos and wrote down all our inside jokes. What an amazing gesture to do for someone. I remember absolutely loving this book and how much care she put into it. It was a lot of fun to pour through. And it’s really a nice thing finding out that even if you simply felt like you gave people a hard time just by being your loud, obnoxious self, they still loved you enough to show you how much they cared. It was touching. Really gave me a refreshing look at who I am and what I’m about. I wonder what else I’m about to uncover should I continue digging deep. There’s a whole other side of the room that seriously hasn’t been touched in years. I know the feeling.

What I Hope to Find: Gladly Cashed Out

None of this is going to be easy. I have no idea how long this could conceivably go on for. My mom still has a strong heartrate and good blood pressure. She could hang around for years. All that matters is that she’s comfortable the entire time she’s here. The next step after getting all the old furniture out is to get a new sleeper bed on the first floor and a medical bed upstairs. We just replaced the showerhead in the master bathroom with a handle that pulls off. And my dad and I came up with the bright idea to get a baby monitor with a camera so he can always have an eye on her, even as she still finds the strength to try and leave the bed. I ordered it late last night and it was on their door step by 6:00AM. Guess Amazon Prime is good for something.

This has been one of the most trying times in my family’s life, but this is just what you’d do for a loved one. You’d move heaven and earth to makes sure you care for those who can’t care for themselves. There isn’t even a question about cleaning what I need to, or purchasing what is necessary. I only wish I had more money to give, but this damn inflationary pressure is driving up my credit card debt again. Oh well. It’s all fake money anyway. I don’t even care. It’s good ol’ fashioned American debt.

It’s all worth it, anyway. It’s just an investment. I’ll pay you back when the cash windfall happens. And not just for me, either. Everyone’s going to get what’s coming to them soon. And as much as I’d like to not lift a finger in order to get it, I know earning it through hard would would be far more fulfilling. I just hope it’s by doing something I love. Something I’m passionate about. Something that deserves all my attention. I’m sure I’ll find it. It may be closer than I think. For the good of the family. All the way to the bank.

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