From late 2007 until early 2013, I maintained my parents in their own home by providing them with their daily meals and everything else that they needed so that they could enjoy the comfort of their own home for as long as possible. My parents had insisted that I move from where I wanted to be, to come live in Bloomington/Normal, Illinois, and they bought me an inexpensive house ($100K) only ten minutes away to make their care convenient. I accepted this, even though it stalled my life, because I love my parents.
Every month or so, my sister Carla and/or brother Peter drove through Illinois on their way from Minnesota to North Carolina where my sister’s twin sons lived and my brother maintained a stateside apartment while he worked as a computer technician in Sweden. It is my impression that my sister usually did not work full-time in life. My siblings usually stayed overnight, or for a few days, at our parents’ house. My siblings always demanded that I not be in our parents’ house when they were there, saying that my presence upset them. But I think that the real reason was that my siblings did not want me to see what they were doing, whatever that was, whatever they might have been transporting from friends in Mexico to Minnesota to North Carolina, an accusation which I have surmised from family history and their current somewhat crazed demeanor. Please forgive me if I am wrong, but to my sorrow my intuitions are usually correct. Also, a lot of my parents’ possessions went missing during that time period, which is a story for another day.
At one point, both of my parents tried arguing with my siblings to let me stay and make dinner. All of them stood in a yelling circle in the living room, our parents both propped up by their canes. My siblings were still fairly young, definitely vigorous, and argued with clenched fists, flailing their arms about like gigantic toddlers. Frankly, I was edging toward the door. Our parents said that if my sister and brother did not want to see me they should stay at a hotel and visit when I was not there. But my siblings ignored our elderly parents, and physically ran me out of the house, so after that I simply left whenever they came into town and demanded that I leave. My brother Peter is 6’2” and frighteningly fit with steroid-type muscles, my sister Carla is well over 250 lbs., powerful, emotional, and quick to use her fists. It would have been foolish for me to argue with them. I do not want to be in a physical fight. I am too old to risk injury. Also, I find it distasteful to scuffle, especially with my siblings with whom I would much rather have had a conversation, say for example, about how we might all provide the daily care that our parents needed. My siblings steadfastly avoided that conversation by saying, almost in unison, “We will not discuss our parents’ care with you.” as if someone else was miraculously providing that care (toward which my siblings made no financial contribution at all.) Then they shoved me out of the door. It was a clever but dishonorable dodge. I always left, but it made me very anxious while they were there because Mother complained afterward that she had had no food to eat while they were there. Father just tried to muddle through it without complaint. He had my sympathies, he dreads an argument as much as I do. I tried not to interfere and to give my siblings access to our parents as I knew that our parents loved all of their children. When he was younger, my father would say, “Your father always loves you.”
In 2010 I came back after my sister Carla had been staying at our parents’ house, and found that Mother had tried to bandage her own wrist, but was unaware of the extensive bruising on her back, and her awful black eye. I took quick photographs and immediately took Mother to the hospital emergency room. I do not know who the emergency room staff thought had beaten my poor, old mother, but they were not very nice to me. I had to simply suffer through the humiliation in order to get care for my mother. The hospital said that no one had taken Mother to the emergency room for those injuries. Carla had not called me to discuss any follow up care for Mother, but then Carla had not called me in thirty years, and it is possible that our mother was assaulted after my sister Carla left. Mother’s imaging showed no broken bones, so the hospital discharged her, and I took her home. Father could not or would not speak about what had happened to Mother or anything else during that time period. Mother suffered dementia and was too overcome by what had happened to talk about it, but the next time that Carla showed up Mother greeted her by saying, “You have a lot of nerve showing up here after what your son(s) did to me.” They reconciled quietly, but I left Mother with her youngest daughter with trepidation.
I never saw any of my three nephews at our parents’ house again.
Caption: Phyllis Throckmorton was assaulted in 2010.
photograph by Annmarie Throckmorton
Caption: Phyllis Throckmorton was assaulted in 2010.
photograph closeup by Annmarie Throckmorton
Caption: Peter Throckmorton was unable to protect his wife from injury.
photograph by Annmarie Throckmorton 2010