Fortunately, Marilyn’s mom Betty regained her mental clarity. The family had all her documents signed, notarized and copied.
She slowly regained the use of her right side, her speech and had her great attitude. Marilyn continued to fly back and forth between Atlanta and Jackson. The doctors said her mom may or may not be able to walk but they were hopeful she would regain full use of her legs. The problem was they simply didn’t know.
It became obvious to Marilyn that she couldn’t keep shuttling herself back and forth and finding surrogate moms for her boys. She decided to ask Fran if she could stay with her mom and take her to rehab until something else could be worked out.
Then, Marilyn became depressed. She wanted to be with her mom as much as possible but had another life in Atlanta. She thought about moving her to Atlanta but they had never discussed it, nor had Marilyn talked to her husband about it.
Marilyn finally developed enough courage to broach the subject with her mom. Her mom said she wanted to stay in Jackson because she fully expected to be back to normal in a few weeks. Jackson was familiar. There were friends, her surroundings and her dog. Moving would mean she was on the downward slope. She had seen many friends move out of their homes into other facilities only to lose touch with reality, and she couldn’t come to terms with it.
Marilyn and her husband decided to hire a social worker to talk to her mom about the reality of her situation and help her see it’s affect on herself and her daughter. The social worker stressed that Marilyn loved her and wanted to spend more time with her anyway. Eventually Betty agreed to move to Atlanta into an assisted living facility close to Marilyn’s house. Though it was heartbreaking, she sold the majority of her personal items.
Meanwhile, Marilyn’s sister had visited her mom only twice since the stroke and accused Marilyn of being selfish by wanting her to move to Atlanta. Being a free spirit, Cathy had no concept of what it was like to live in Marilyn’s shoes. She also didn’t like the idea of her future inheritance being eaten up by some “old folks’ warehouse,” as she put it. The relationship between Marilyn and her sister became strained, putting even more stress on Marilyn.
Not much has been said about Marilyn’s husband. He was as supportive as he could be, but was powerless to soothe his wife, which caused a great deal of distress for him and affected his work. The consequences of waiting for a crisis can have a ripple effect like a stone thrown in a lake. The ripples go in all directions.
The scenario of Marilyn and her family scenario is mild compared to many I’ve witnessed. Use of the six-step plan outlined in this book would have prevented most of the friction and emotional drain Marilyn and her mom suffered. It would have flushed out the tension between Marilyn and her sister and helped them both prepare for the inevitable. It would have given Betty time to get used to the idea of leaving Jackson. Instead, everything happened at once, during a storm. To be honest, it’s likely that Betty would have resisted the process. No one wants to picture being dependent on others.
If you or your parents are resistant to having frank discussions about the future, trained professionals in your city who know how to deal with the emotional issues involved can help. As a third party unaffiliated with the family situation, these professionals can point out and hopefully convince relatives to consider the effect their inaction will have on their family. They can also facilitate agreement among siblings and family members.