Time is measured in 4 hour increments. Mom takes medicine at the interval, so I'm tuned into thinking that far ahead. I like to stay close to those marks so that any misery isn't allowed to escalate.
Having been up with her at 3, I went back to bed around 4:30. We often talk while the pain eases and I reposition ice packs and help her as she shifts and alternates between sitting and lying down. I put in a Friends DVD for quiet background noise and kissed her forehead before heading down the hall, reminding myself to wake again at 7.
Dad went to sleep last night around 10 after a screaming argument. When Mom snaps at him - as she sometimes does lately - he yells back. Last night was very unpleasant. At one point, he was so enraged that I could see how badly he wanted to hit something. Though he's never struck any of us, I positioned myself to attack should he change his mind. It's clear I have issues with my father - deeply buried, of course, but there is enough animosity and blame that when he angers me, I'm resolute in whatever my argument happens to be. He sent a fan flying into the wall and headed down the hall.
"It's always about you." He shot over his shoulder. So Mom and I yelled - unplanned but in unison - "I'm/She's the one who's sick!" He stomped back to the room, continuing to grumble about how he was wronged in the argument when I told him to be an adult.
"Is she being an adult?" He pouted and I raised my eyebrows and asked if he was seriously saying these things. So he helped her up, then went to bed. And started the next morning with his typical list of things that were wrong and people that were stupid.
I do make things worse in validating Mom's feelings when she's annoyed or hurt. I see her point and the next offense seems more heinous than it otherwise might. So it's good I'm going home. When out of my normal routine, she is my only focus. Dad has a schedule and follows it. He'll figure out how to mesh that with Mom's once I'm out of the way.
I did get the house cleaned and organized yesterday. Friend was shocked that I knew how to dust, having removed felt-like dirt from objects in my house. Though my childhood home was nowhere near as bad, I did do a thorough job, removing clutter by throwing it in the trash or in baskets for storage (then forgetting where I put stuff, leading to a late night search for the other walkie talkie) and making a grocery list for today. I still have to hear the "Someone left stuff on the table." or "Someone should go through those papers." But now I also get "Someone threw that away!" or "Someone put something where I can't find it!" Which is at least different.
But I cause arguments even then. I can call him names in my head, but Mom feels the need to defend me. Which is OK, but I'm realizing that the complex that fears I must be constantly irritating to those around me came in part from growing up with someone who was constantly irritated.
So I left them arguing this morning to head to the store with my neatly organized list and Mom's Kroger card. I found an excellent parking space before 8AM and wandered a nearly empty store. It was cool and brightly lit and I walked slowly (having twisted my own knee this morning, leading to a horrified exclamation from Mom) while collecting my items. Stuff for dinners, a few breakfast items, snacks for lunch and throughout the day. Mom is able to eat and is undeniably stronger. She does have resources if Dad doesn't handle things, though I suspect he will. I hope.
I returned home feeling overwhelmed with satisfaction, realizing as I drove with the air conditioner as high as it would go that it's the first time this week that I was successful. I got everything on my list, some of it was on sale, and it was safely loaded into the back of Mom's Liberty as I drove home.
"I did it." I smiled as Mom looked up from her book and she smiled. "It's the first time this week that I haven't screwed something up." She frowned and opened her mouth to disagree as Dad began to say we hadn't enough room to store all this food in the house. I rolled my eyes and went to put groceries away when Mom called that she'd like to sit at the counter and watch. So Dad and I helped her up and got her situated on a stool and she tucked bags into an old tissue box so they could be reused later, then sliced a cantelope while she coached me through washing a whole chicken to make chicken and noodles later.
With a wrinkled nose, I made sure it was well rinsed, then tucked it in the crock pot with stock.
"That grosses you out?" Mom asked as I closed my eyes and muttered, "don't think about it, don't think about it, don't think about it." while transferring chicken parts to rest alongside the body. I peeked open one eye to nod at her.
"After all you've dealt with from me this week?"
"I neither know nor love this chicken." I offered and she shook her head and pushed a full tupperware of juicy, pale orange fruit toward me so I could put it away. I cleaned the fridge so Dad can find things. There is plenty of food in the freezer for times they don't know what to have. I'll put together and cheesy potato casserole today, then Aunt can finish chicken and noodles when she's here tomorrow. Dad offered that he could do soup and sandwiches, so the makings for those are in the cupboard and meat drawer.
As frustrated as I get with the man, when Mom asked for a bologna (I sing the song when I spell that) sandwich, he brought it to her open faced so she could see the smiley face he drew with mustard. And he just came inside, breathless and sweating, because he thought he heard me yell while he was out in his garage. (Though I didn't. Mom's sleeping. I'm writing. All is quiet and well.) So he might deserve more credit that I can give him at the moment. But they'll be OK.
Because I must head home - tomorrow at noon.