OK, so first, this happened at my local park for Easter:

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In a way, it’s this perfect metaphor for life with my parents these days.  A good 80% of my brain occupied with logistics.  How is this even happening?  Am I somehow misconstruing the weirdness of this situation?  How did they get insurance to do this?!

I’d say another 15% of my brain is watching in stunned, horrified anticipation.  Is this the moment before the blood-works start up?  Is this the fleeting second of sunshine dappled happiness before the real show starts?  How about now?  How about…. now?

The last 5% is totally involved with amazement, but the good kind.  I get to see this.  It’s on my heart forever now, and nothing that happens later will erase it.  

PS:  In quite the literal sense, I touched an alligator.  It exceeded expectations, being not plastic and tough like a lifetime of toys had taught me, but meaty and supple under the thick skin.  Also, in the quite literal sense, my husband asked if the alligator had been drugged up prior.  The handler said no, just well fed.  These are photos from earlier in the day.  Towards the end of the show, the alligator tried to get off the card table it was being displayed on.  The handler wrapped arms around the gator’s neck and hugged it back into position.  I don’t know what the back-up plan was – thing was totally off leash.

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Here’s the update for any of you reading this like a handbook (Oh God, I CANNOT get the title of “What to Expect when You are Expecting… Your Parent to Die of Dementia” out of my head, complete with adorable little old folks on the cover instead of babies).

My dad is doing a little better on the meds.  I saw him a few weeks ago as my husband and I went up to review my parents’ finances.  Dad had a great morning (told my mom it was the best day of his life) and a tough afternoon (accused Mom of stealing all his money) followed by a so-so next day (didn’t remember who we were, but spoke at length of his plan to get his driver’s license back).

(With the surprisingly wily Matlock-style argument:  “Even the doctor doesn’t know what’s wrong with my brain. How can they prove I can’t drive?  They can’t bar me based on a diagnosis I don’t have!”)

My mother is busy putting my name on all her accounts, so if something happens to her first, I can easily transition my dad to a care facility.  We spent the weekend going over what will happen when she dies, and what she wants done with her things and her body.  She said to put Dad in a home, but left no instructions for which one.  She agreed to put in writing the harder part of her wishes to avoid potential fights. (Exception being, of course, what to do with Dad.  Guess she can’t turn her mind to it.)

My paternal grandmother died a few years ago, and my mother insists she is doing all this work because she now understands how difficult it is to manage another person’s estate.  Mom wants it to be easy for us.  Is gift!

I had a breakdown.  Not because I can’t accept that she’ll die.  I just couldn’t shake the feeling that by being complicit, I was giving her permission to go.

I told her, “This feels like being mugged*.  Like how they always say, ‘don’t fight, just give over your purse, and they won’t hurt you.’  But somehow, when you just let it happen, it’s like an agreement.  Like later you think, I should have screamed just so I knew it wasn’t OK.”

My mom hugged me, and I could feel it was less of a hug than she’d ever given me before.  Not because she’s physically weaker, but because the promise between us is dissipating.

Maybe I’m just jumping at shadows, but I feel like I’m getting mugged and all I want to do is scream, SHE’S GOING so even if I get knifed for my troubles, at least I can stop pretending that’s not what’s happening.

*I was mugged at knife point when I was in my twenties.