What the hell does one do with a moral dilemma? Not some namby-pamby-little-nick-on-the-heart-and-brain-thing, but a full-fledged, life-interrupting, and irrevocably-changed moral dilemma.
A moral dilemma that costs you valuable sleep. A moral dilemma that costs you health. A moral dilemma that could conceivably cost your life.
What I’m writing about is not the decision. The decision is/was cut and dried. Done. The tsunami aftermath, hell, the tsunami of dread that crushed me as the decision was made – nanoseconds stretching into honest seconds, minutes, hours, and now days – roll over my heart and intellect with suffocating fear.
Four years ago, we were forced to take our mother out of the home in which she lived for 66 years. The house was courtesy of her mother when mom was young and on the cusp of raising four children. In July 2018, none of the children could come to mom’s rescue. Mom slipped sadly into Alzheimer’s and our world was crushed.
This beautiful mother desired/desires nothing more in life than to finish her life in the house she raised her family in. In the four years she has spent with my little sister, me, and an assisted living facility, all she ever wants is to go back home.
My little sister cared for our mother for over two years until congestive heart failure forced her to realize she could no longer care for her. I took mom on for 11 months. I was a single parent woefully unequipped to handle the dual responsibilities of mom and dad, and sadly unable to care for mom as well.
When we sold the house, my little sister and I cried many tears. Those tear tracks on our cheeks remain fresh as mother has insisted for four years that she is going back home. The conversations with her have been heartbreaking over these four years. So much so that I avoid talking with mom and little sis struggles when mom crumbles into tears or anger.
This house, the gift from my grandmother, the structure that mom helped turn into a home, is her one touch with reality. Her main focus, which comes very hard for Alzheimer’s sufferers, rests in West Virginia and this house.
When we sold the house in 2018, we were pleasantly surprised when good friends from high school bought the house for their daughter. Last week, both my sister and I awoke to the news that the house was going to be auctioned that particular day.
I had desired to go live with mom in 2018 because the entire family knew of her life’s desire to live her final days in that house. I could not because of my daughter still being in school and a vicious custody battle. Therefore we sold the house and mom popped from place to place all the while insisting that she be returned to her home.
I have a good-paying job. The job is wearing me out. I’ve established myself here in Florida for 24 years. I have begun running my Inspired Mic event after two years of the COVID event. I am blessed with many friends and acquaintances.
I am the only son. In my mother’s eyes, I could do no wrong. This was a burden of untruth I found embarrassing and difficult to live up to. Yet, whenever I fell on hard emotional times, without fail, my mother was there. When the housing market crashed and people were losing their homes, she came to my rescue.
Now, on the spur of just a few hours, I pulled the trigger and won the auction of my mother’s house, the house I know solely as a home, the house my mother knows solely as the home she helped to build. So many tears and triumphs in that house. So much emotion and attachment.
What do we owe our parents? What does it really matter that mom gets to go back. She will be 91 very soon. Her care at the facility is excellent by all measures. My care may end up lacking. Do I owe her this? Do I, at 63, owe her the ability to realize her insistent dream? Am I stupid for walking away from the first good-paying job I’ve had in over a decade?
My heart is broken. I don’t know that I can even secure the financing, although it will not be difficult once I secure employment back home. The pressures of all that must be done and my emotional exhaustion at revisiting this crazy thing I did on auction day. I changed my life and there is no guarantee for the better. My leaving with cripple my employer. I do not mean him any harm. I feel so guilty for doing this for my mother.
I know this feeling. I felt it when we sold the house. I cannot even hope to feel exhalation on the return of the house. There is no promise from Alzheimer’s that mom will be satisfied with being home. There is no exultant happy ending betrothed to me, my sister, my wife, or the rest of the family, and ultimately including mom. I have tossed aside so much to give my mother her ultimate dream.
I have no retirement. I have no assets. I am feeling alone and despondent and hopeless and nearly defeated by life. This should never have happened. But it did. I must get right with myself. Somehow, someway, I must find the fortitude to rise above yet another life crisis. Crisis is a strange word to pluck from my vocabulary, yet upon inspection, I believe crisis defines this situation. I am once again going against the odds and at an age where I do not have the vim and vigor of yesteryear.
I fear so much. I fear my ability to take care of my mother. I fear that I have made such a financial blunder. I fear the pressure this could possibly place on my marriage. I fear that small little town I once loved that is now rife with meth addicts and heroin. I fear leaving the friendships I’ve built here for a quarter of a century. I fear I’ve made the biggest mistake of my life. I could list hundreds of other fears all attached to this, but you get the picture.
This is my mother’s dream, her dying wish. I envy her that. She possesses a dying wish. My only dying wish so far is to not die. I’m sure there are many, including my boss at work, that would argue that I have no obligation here. I am not obliged to sacrifice what’s left of my life to make this happen. I will likely be reviled by my boss. I hope not. This is a great pain for me. He needs me. I am not overestimating my worth. It’s a fact. He may be able to replace me, but likely not from what I’ve seen in this job market.
I will be back for more on this. I am being eaten alive from deep inside because of my decision as the only son and the only family member willing or able to put mom back in her beloved home. I know I owe her this. Not just because she has always been a wonderful mother, but because of a lifelong desire to be an honorable man. She raised me that way. I cannot turn my back on this. My mother raised me to be an honorable man. I’m the Golden Child, a burden I’ve always eschewed because I know those moments and times I’ve been less than honorable. Almost laughably, those times I’ve not lived up to the honorable man my mother raised me to be are not times anyone can point to.
People can point to crises in my life and question my decision-making, but I can stand and defend my positions at those points. It’s those deep, secret, personal moments where I’ve chosen to step outside honorability that I know. I”m sure everyone has these points in their lives.
I will not let my mother down. I am her last hope, her last chance to achieve her dream. The cost to me may destroy me, something my mother would never desire, so I must find a way to pull myself up by my bootstraps and help her pass in peace. The crazy thing there is that no guarantee she will pass like that. But without my action in this, the guarantee would be that she does not get her wish. I cannot abide by that.
I will need help. Much help. I will need support. Much support. I am flitting in and out of deep depression. This decision is taking a huge toll on me. Any kind words will be treasured not simply appreciated. Fear is running rampant in my heart and mind and I need to get to a better place. As I said a few paragraphs ago, I will be back. I must purge…
The Good Mother
Days of dreams
Nights of wonder
What little boy doesn’t snatch time to ponder
A wisp of a willow
A snap of a twig
A boy to grow up and live life big
Where did he find it?
When did he know?
Memories cripple him the more he will grow?
His safety stood certain
His ambitions ran wild
All maintained as he was her child
When she left him in tatters
Unable to think
Crushing sadness shoved his life to its brink
Heart weary from the battles of life
He soldiers on to her side
The untidy knight unwilling to hide
A good mother lives priceless
In the heart of her son
He stands with her now until the victory is won