(Continued from “If It Is the Truth, With a Capital ‘T'”)
I am making a second pot of coffee at 10am when Worldly-Caregiver-Woman arrives. She is promptly on time.
Nana and I have been awake for four hours.
“Hey, how’s it going?” She greets me cheerfully.
“It’s going.” I exhale a long heavy breath. I suspect I look a little grim. “Help yourself to some coffee.”
She gives me piercing perceptive eyes while she grabs a cup and pours herself some coffee.
Nana is in the other room looking through the box she and I had pulled out of the top of the closet an hour ago.
I sip my own coffee and lean my hips against the counter by the sink. She leans in the corner by the stove.
“How’s your grandmother?”
“She is about the same as she has been. She was up last night until almost two am and then she popped up again a few minutes after six.” I take another sip of the warm creamy drink. “We have been talking about getting her more help. I expect to talk with my mother today.”
“Oh wow, ok.” She and I have been talking regularly for the last several months. She knew I had been getting ready to do something about my grandmother’s situation. “How did that go?”
I sigh again and look at the table blankly for a long time. “It was hard.” I say finally.
“I had to remind her I am Disassociated.”
Later that Afternoon
That afternoon, I get a call from my mother. I pick up the phone and she starts with no preamble, “You know you cannot stay there.”
“Hello mother.” I say, pushing for some pretense of niceties before we jump into the issues.
“Hello,” she grudgingly answers.
“Nana needs help.” I take us back to the issue, my issue anyway. “She is not doing well. She is forgetting to eat, and she is in danger from that bathtub of hers.”
I rapidly outline to my mother the things I am afraid about with Nana’s increasing frailty and dementia-type symptoms.
“I know, I know,” my mother tries to soothe me with her tone. “I have told my brothers over and over what she needs but they don’t listen. And your grandmother is so stubborn she says she is fine and they believe her. I couldn’t fight them about it anymore.”
“Mother, I know how much you have always done for her.” I soften my voice a notch. “I know Nana’s care has mostly fallen on your shoulders and you have finally moved away. I am not trying to give you a hard time for moving away. I don’t mean you should be trapped taking care of grandma forever.”
“But mom, she is not ok right now,” My voice shifts into the gentle firmness I learned from God-the-Father. “She is climbing in and out of her bathtub by holding onto the faucet and the soap dish. There is that tile shelf built-in behind the bathtub. If her hands were to slip she easily could crack her head on that hard edge. Plus,” I finish with a flourish, “you know she has nerve damage, so her hands go numb and drop things regularly.”
John-Wayne-Mother murmurs something indistinct and I know she is afraid too. Nana could drown in a bad fall, or something worse. It is a vision I cannot unsee. I hear my mother see it too.
“I will talk with them and see what I can do but you cannot stay there.” She brings us back to her issue. I am Disassociated.
“You want me out?” My temper flashes hot and hard. “Then fix it!”
The last three words climb out of my throat in a deepening snarl. I slam the phone back in its cradle.
I have nothing else to say.
She doesn’t call back.
The next day Unbelieving-Uncle shows up with grab bars for the bathroom.
While he is installing the safety bars Baby-Brother-Uncle shows up. He has a different job.
He calls Nana to sit with him on the couch.
I sit across the room in the old rocking chair and say nothing. My face is stony. I know what he is here to say.
He sits next to her on the couch and takes her hands in his larger ones. He looks gently into her eyes and speaks softly.
He says nothing about the issues of her care and health.
He says nothing to me. He almost doesn’t look at me.
He comes straight to the point, saying to Nana, “She cannot stay with you.”
“Ohhhh!” Her face starts to crumple.
“And if you let her stay here you will be Disfellowshipped.” Shunned in the very end of her life for accepting caregiving from her granddaughter.
She bursts into tears.
He continues to hold her hands in his, their knees touching as they sit angled towards each other on the couch. His voice stays gentle and he doesn’t flinch at her tears.
She doesn’t look at me and neither does he.
I sit on the other side of the room gripping the smooth maple arms of the rocking chair to give my hands something to do, other than form fists.
My jaw is locked in a knot of fury.
I say nothing. I sit and watch.
“Do you understand?”
“Yes!” She manages through her tears.
“Do you want that?” His voice is implacable.
“No!!” Her crying is unabated, and her fear is palpable.
Finally, he looks at me his normally good-natured face hard.
I can’t keep the words choking me in my throat any longer.
“So that is it?? You don’t care at all about the help she needs?!” I spit into his spiritual certainty.
“Your mother is arranging with the woman she has one day a week to come in full-time. Starting next week, she will be with Nana five days a week, five hours a day.” He says it like he believes that solves the issue of her care.
His face softens slightly and says, “We know you have a special relationship with Nana. We are not trying to stop you from having some time with her before she dies. You can come visit her the way you have been. We will make sure we let her know when any of the rest of the family want to come visit so we don’t overlap with you.”
He looks like he is hoping really hard I will accept this arrangement and stop fighting them.
I strangle back my fury and give a tight nod of agreement to the terms. If I fight them it could get a lot worse.
I say nothing.
Unbelieving-Uncle quietly works on installing the grab bars while we talk in the living room. He has nothing to say. He has always worked hard to stay out of the Witness conversations.
Baby-Brother-Uncle is officially Nana’s Head of House, since Uncle-Apostle-Paul died, therefore it is up to him to have this conversation with her.
The conversation is over. He said what he had to say.
Then Baby-Brother-Uncle, eyes darting quickly away from my unflinching angry gaze, heads into the bathroom to check in with Unbelieving-Uncle about the grab-bar installation.
Within 15 minutes they are both out the door, unable or unwilling to meet my pain-filled angry eyes for long. Tight, uncomfortable good-byes that leave acres unspoken.
Leaving me with a grandmother who finally really gets what I have been trying to tell her for several days.
The Organization and her children will Disfellowship her if I take care of her in this, her dying-time.
She wound up living another 9 months or so.
For the rest of her life, when I would go to leave, she would start our usual good-bye routine by saying, “I wish you didn’t have to go.”
For the past year or so, I had been going thru 15 minutes of side-stepping the real reason why I wasn’t coming to stay with her and take care of her as I was raised to do.
From that day forward, when I left I would say, “I can’t. You remember what Baby-Brother-Uncle said.”
And she would say, “Ooohhh yeah…”, her voice trailing away sadly while she hugged me good-bye.
She had a lot of trouble with her memory in those last few years but she never forgot that conversation.
The truth was something she immediately recognized. When I was trying to soft-soap it, avoiding the conversation was a lot harder, more dishonest to the emotional truth of our relationship.
I would have gladly taken care of her and she knew that.
The fact that I have taken a moral stand and it requires both her and I to do something very difficult and painful, was easier for both of us to deal with.
 I Disassociated myself from the Organization, therefore, Witnesses in Good Standing are required to hold a boundary of Necessary Family Business with me.
Categories: Roaming My Ruminations
Tags: disassociation, disfellowshipping, end-of-life care, Ex-Jehovah's Witness, shunning
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