Note from the Eldercare Underground: Sibling Scorecard Edition
My brother lives in Colorado with his wife, so consequently he’s not involved in the day-to-day stuff with our mother’s care in the nursing home like I am.
Prior to Mom’s moving there, I was also the one who made sure her bills were paid before penalties were levied, and I was (and continue to be) the one who schlepped her to all of her doctor’s appointments—including ER visits on my birthday and wedding anniversary and five hour marathon sessions at the retinal ophthalmologist.
Do I sound just a teensy bit resentful about the division of labor here? Well, if I do….to quote Olympic gold medal swimmer Ryan Lochte, “Jeah!”
But through all of this, at least I knew my mother was somewhat aware of what I was doing for her, and also somewhat aware of what my brother wasn’t doing.
I’d asked my brother a couple of months ago to please send some photos of his new granddaughter, my nephew’s little girl, to our mother. Mom doesn’t remember who’s who in the family but she had anticipated that baby’s birth because she had given up hope my nephew would ever get married and have kids. Well, he didn’t get married, but he and his girlfriend did have Baby H.—and she’s adorable.
Mom loved to look at the early photos of Baby H. so much I thought it would be nice to have more. And it would be a way to keep her connected to what was going on in the family, if only briefly.
So, no big deal. Just some copies of photos I’m sure they had, being the proud grandparents.
Weeks went by. No photos. Then about a month ago a package arrived at the nursing home with a bunch of “Country” magazines from my brother, along with a note that said my sister-in-law would be sending photos soon.
As of Tuesday, there still were no photos. (I had sent a terse email to them requesting the photos, please, and got a reply from SIL saying she was working on it, but her computer printer had run out of ink.)
Come on, how hard can it be? No other responsibilities but the two of them. No grandkids nearby to tend to—her daughter’s kids and my nephew’s new baby are all in California. Surely they would send the photos in time for Mom’s birthday last week….but, no.
Meanwhile, I’m down here in the trenches.
So today when I went to see my mother, I found her lying down for a nap. As I put away the laundry I’d done at home for her, she told me my brother had been there to see her today and had brought her a bunch of magazines. Hmm….There were no magazines, other than the ones he’d sent earlier.
I looked in her dresser drawer and found some new photos of the baby.
In her mind, she’d conflated the two things, the magazines and the photos, and threw in a visit from him to boot.
So now, not only do I see to her day-to-day care, but my brother gets points for showing up even when he didn’t.
Ya just can’t win.