Tonight my father is an ocean away in the home he left behind 40 years ago to create a better life for himself and his family. He is there to care for his mother who is in her 90's, bedridden and completely alone. Her daughter lives fives miles down the road. Her son lives forty minutes away in a neighboring city. And my dad is there to care for her because no one else is willing. He can't stay beyond February and we're not sure what will happen to her then. The country he is from, from what my mother tells me, does not have nursing homes. Even if there is some obscure nursing home somewhere, to utter the word would cause one to shiver because that's considered abandoning your parents, the ultimate disgrace. I guess leaving them stranded in a bed in a small village with two servants who leave at night, is okay.
I'm surprised I have any sympathy for my grandmother. She is an unpleasant, bitter woman. She lived with my family on and off for three years and tried bringing my parents to the brink of divorce several times. I still remember her smiling sweetly to me at eight years old and telling me how much she loved me, and then as soon as my father left the room her expression changed I don't care about you one way or the other, get out of my room. It takes work to be that mean.
My grandmother has become a hot potato. I can only wonder how that must feel to know that none of your children care enough in your final days to help you. In some ways, its what you get for spending your life dividing your family and stirring anger and resentment. I'm just a little frustrated because my father, as the eldest, is left to figure out what to do. He's in his late 60's, and he's been under the weather. He's in a cement home with no heating, erratic running water by himself and his mother doing what he can for the few weeks he is there. My aunt, five miles down the road has a home with central heat and flushing toilets and four spare rooms. My uncle too has a home that would be middle class in the US and lives in a city where she could get the proper care she needs. No cigar. I'm proud of my father for doing the right thing but I'm angry at her for having been such a lousy mother that most of her children have become what they are. I'm angry with her that the life she lived has resulted in this final treatment. I wish she had been a nicer person.
But I also feel sorry for her. Because I'm going to be a mother soon. And I think about my son living miles from me, knowing I'm bedridden and dying, and feeling indifferent. Don't get me wrong, she was a horrible mother and I know I will be nothing like her. But- she is a mother, and she is dying and five of her six children simply can't be bothered, and despite her wretchedness, its a very sad way to end your final days. My mother says God can punish us in this life or the next and perhaps he has begun to exact for her misdeeds now. Maybe- I just look at my dysfunctional relatives and think of the family I'm hoping to create and just hope that I can do better. I hope my children will never have to know relatives as disappointing as mine.