January 1st, 2012
|01:39 am - Parental Visit and Object Lesson|
teaotter and I returned from visiting my parents a couple of days ago, and as always visiting them was stressful, but in somewhat different ways. They are now quite elderly (almost 80), and seem no longer to have the energy to be quite as vicious as before, but largely because they've instead become far more pathetic. My dad's short-term memory problems that started after he hit his head after being struck by a (low speed) car in 2006 have finally started to improve, but they aren't gone, and have been replaced by a mixture of listless depression and occasional anger – he's clearly deeply depressed, in large part because they shut down their antique business a few months ago, and like many men of his age, his job and his worth as a human being were inseparable.
Meanwhile, my mother is simply pathetic in the way of someone who was once a shy but highly social extrovert who has lived with someone with little need for human contact and worked with my dad in a career where they were on the road enough that all of their friends were antique dealers they saw at antique shows – which they are no longer doing. At this point, my mom effectively has one friend, who she only sees occasionally, and other than that, she has my seriously depressed father and their cat for company. At this point, I don’t like or love them, but dear gods I feel sorry for them. Of course, they are still rude and utterly horrid people, so I only feel so sorry for them.
I did do a bit to help. This visit, I set up their Tivo so they could rent movies on it, which given that they'd somehow lost the knowledge of how to play DVDs meant they could rent movies again, for the first time in 5 or 6 years. My dad's memory problems are still enough to keep someone who (despite being a programmer in the 1970s) never really mastered technology made after the mid 1990s from being even less able to user modern technology. Although my mom's mind is as razor-sharp as even, she is also the sort of technophobe who refuses to learn how to check email on a computer, much less use any sort of device beyond the Tivo remote.
There were only two positive aspects of the visit - my mom got us a set of 3 dinner bowls - the fact that there were three bowls was not talked about, but is likely significant and positive. OTOH, last year when all three of us visited, my dad took an entirely irrational dislike to amberite and so discussing her with him in the room is largely something to avoid. However, my mom is at least passively supportive of something (we haven't discussed the nature of our relationship with Alice, and won't until Alice has graduated from medical school or otherwise has a successful career, so that the fact that we live in a house my parents own cannot be used against us). Also, not only didn't she throw a complete fit (like she did the last time we asked about going to see our wonderful friends laurelindel, lyssabard, and tlttlotd, she suggested we go and see them. As a result, Becca and I had one lovely evening on the trip.
In any case, I celebrate this new year with the fact that my life is nothing like my parents'. I have a number of close friends, I have two lovely partners, I keep up with new technology, and I work to actively find joy in my life. When they were younger, working all the time, and having no friends or enjoyment in their lives, I looked at their lives in horror and incomprehension, and now that they are retired and pathetic, I look at their impressively wealthy lives with a mixture of horror and pity.
Current Mood: thoughtful
Congratulations on the three bowls!
I'm sorry your parents aren't doing well.
I'm very happy you're doing well.