Information.

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Fucking hell.

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.

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7 thoughts on “Information.

  1. Jackie

    I fully expect that to happen with my mom. Some day I figure I’ll go up there to visit and she’ll look thin and ill and I’ll learn she’s had several chemo treatments or something but just “didn’t want me to worry.” And, like you, I’ll think, “WTF.” Because it’s an insult, to not be told, to not be trusted. It is not “considerate of my feelings.”

    Actually my whole family is bad for this, when I think about my brother picking me up in the Calgary airport and telling me only then that he and Jane were split up. He probably won’t tell anyone when he’s sick, either.

  2. Erica

    My mother is like that too – she’d never give “serious news” on the phone, so it would have to be discussed (if at all) when we see each other in person three times a year. Plus, my mom is of the opinion that if there’s nothing anyone else can do, why bother telling them? Mark’s family is much better at communicating and rallying.

  3. Rachel

    I always assumed it was the “keep a stiff upper lip” antiquated British way of dealing with emotions, which I did not employ when I yelled at my Mom for not telling us about her pacemaker. What if something had happened? I told her that I wanted to be able to send good vibes if I knew she was going through something, which I think appealed to her hippy side. She doesn’t carry a cell phone so I still feel a twinge of anxiety when I get a long-distance call when I know she is on a kayaking trip or something. When did we become old enough to have our parents stop worrying about us and have us start worrying about them? I guess I am proving my Mom’s and your Mum’s point right about now, but so be it! How are your brothers about such things?

    • megan

      Hard to say how my brothers do, as Elderbro’s health things were sudden, emergency-type things. I hope they are better than Mum, though.

      I do wonder if, in the case of my mother anyway, it has to do with how WHINY and needy my grandmother was for, like, her whole life. Overreaction was typical and it was irritating for everyone. It’s like my mother’s rebellion was NOT complaining.

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