I feel dreadful – the lowest of the low. My sister and I have made the decision we have long feared. Mum is going in to a care home, ostensibly for respite care, but almost certainly for good. Her last vestige of independence is being taken away and the worst of it is, she’s completely unaware of what’s about to happen.
The manager of the care home we’ve chosen – the “we” being my sister and I, and not my mother – came to meet Mum last Friday. She has a room available and we have to act. It ‘s as clinical as that except that, of course, it isn’t. This has been on the cards for some time and we’ve agonised over the timing. Recently, one of Mum’s oldest friends expressed fears for her safety which confirmed what we knew but didn’t want to accept – that Mum would have to leave the house which has been the family home for 32 years.
So, how do we tell Mum? Well, lie to her, of course. I am going to deceive the woman who taught me the difference between right and wrong, who taught me the indispensable life skill of telling the truth. We are going to suggest that this is a short-term measure, that my sister won’t be able to offer her care for a week, and that she’s going to stay with someone for a break. The implication is that Mum will be back home after Easter. Yet, the alternative to this monstrous lie seems even more monstrous to me. Tell Mum that she can’t cope, which she can’t, that’s she’s a potential danger to herself, which she is, and that she’s going to spend the rest of her life in a home, which she almost certainly is. Goodness knows, she has little enough confidence left. To tell her the truth would be to take even that tiny scrap of self-belief away.
But, I ask myself, wouldn’t the truth be better? One piece of shattering news for Mum, rather than two deceptions. At least, we would be honest. At the moment, Mum probably still has enough awareness to understand that we’ve misled her so cruelly. What will she think of us? What will it do to our relationship, a relationship which has always been so close and so loving? Does a loving son really do this to his Mum?
Of course, on a positive note, the stimulation of living with others might benefit Mum, at least in the short-term. She will have round-the-clock specialist care. That is some consolation but I still feel I am about to commit the ultimate betrayal. I know’s it’s for the best. Reason tells me we’re doing what we have to do. So why do I feel so bloody awful?Because I’m still her son and she’s still my Mum.