I’m getting to an age where my friends’ parents are starting to get ‘old people’ health problems, sometimes serious ones.
A lot of those parents aren’t necessarily forthcoming with all the facts.
Some extreme, but true, examples:
- I know someone whose mother, who lives in another province, had her eye removed and replaced with a glass one (I can’t remember the specific reason why, but it must have been pretty fucking serious). This information was conveyed after the fact, as more of a ‘by the way’ at the end of a telephone conversation. Didn’t want to worry her daughter.
- Friend’s mother got a pacemaker put in because of a serious arrhythmia, then had to have a second one put in because the first was faulty and made her condition worse. She didn’t tell my friend until after all this went down (like, both procedures). Again, didn’t want to worry her daughter.
- A different friend’s mother was taken away by paramedics suddenly last night. Friend finds out via a weird email from an aunt in another province. No local family was answering their phones, so he had to call the hospital himself (thank goodness there’s a central switchboard in Ottawa) to find out where she was, if she was OK, etc. She was found, will be fine, but she didn’t want to trouble him.
What the FUCK.
Baby boomer parents, please, TELL YOUR CHILDREN THINGS. THEY ARE ADULTS. THEY CAN PROBABLY HANDLE IT, EVEN WHEN THEY FEEL LIKE THEY CAN’T. IT IS NOT BENEFICIAL TO WITHHOLD IMPORTANT INFORMATION. IF SOMETHING GOES REALLY WRONG, THEY WILL BE MORE PREPARED IF THEY ARE INFORMED IN ADVANCE OF WHAT IS HAPPENING. WE ARE NOT GOING TO LEAVE YOU TO BE EATEN BY BEARS BECAUSE YOU ARE A ‘BURDEN’.
Obviously, I still harbour a LOT of resentment from my own mother’s lack of forthrightness when she was very ill. For the most part, she didn’t want us coming to appointments (aside from chemo, which is hella boring, so you want company). I don’t know that I ever even met her oncologist. Even though she definitely knew when she was dying, she kept that information mostly to herself, which is so fucking unfair for everyone.
In retrospect, I should have known, but I didn’t, perhaps because I didn’t want to see it. Some of her friends knew, but she never told us directly. Why (not) do that? Let your loved ones worry, let them understand, let them cry with you. Don’t keep them in the dark.
It’s been a long time, but I think that I have forgiven her, even though thinking about it still makes me angry and very, very sad sometimes.
And I am my mother’s daughter in that I do tend to keep bad things to myself too. Don’t want to burden anyone either. (Hence why I don’t talk about this stuff much.)
Oh, and my friend’s family from last night? Utterly bananas. But that’s not my story to tell.