Mom has moved in with me for the winter.
Her old oil furnace gave up the ghost last winter. She muddled through the final chilly weeks of early spring and vowed to do something about it. We all acknowledged she couldn’t spend another winter in that house. But the months went by and nothing got done, and finally winter came again.
She tried to make a go of it. Putting more blankets on the bed. Spending all her waking hours in town before going home to catch just a few hours of sleep and going back out again to stores to stay warm. Every night I crawled into my own warm bed feeling guilty that she was shivering. I worried she would freeze to death.
She also tried to get the furnace fixed but it’s so old that you can’t get parts for it anymore…at least, that’s what the 3 different servicemen told her. And she thought about renting a new furnace, but you can’t rent oil furnaces. At least without running an oil furnace this year, she’ll save herself the $7,000 bill she had from heating her house last year. The very same house that has holes in the roof and walls.
About a week before Christmas, she called me in tears to say she was feeling desperate. Her pipes have frozen, and it’s so cold in the house, the water in the dog’s dish was also frozen. I think that was the final straw for her…the dog’s dish.
She was already planning to come for Christmas, but this was earlier than expected. I got our spare room ready for her, and have been wrapping my head around the idea of her living with me ever since.
My husband is a great support. He loves my Mom, too, and wants to see us safe and taken care of. But I know this is going to be a strain.
I’ve long known my Mom has compulsive hoarding disorder. And now I feel pretty certain she has narcissism, too. The manipulation of feelings, playing the victim, holding court with a carefully constructed ‘front.’ Any time we try to talk about making decisions, and taking the next logical steps just gets met with the most infuriating smile and shoulder shrug. Her response is always “I guess we’ll have to see what happens.”
And now her stuff is starting to creep into my house. The spare room looks like an explosion and she’s only been there 2 weeks. Her van, which is packed to the gills, and has damage from accidents, is now sitting in my driveway leaving me to hope I don’t get a ticket parked on the street. I’m constantly working to keep the rest of the house tidy and prevent her hoard from creeping further into my living spaces. Did I mention I have a full time job, 2 busy children, and a volunteer commitment to maintain?
I’m not sure I’ll make it through the winter. Because, then what? The house still isn’t livable. Raccoons and squirrels have torn it apart. Old pipes burst and caused all sorts of wet damage. The ceiling is caving in. Will she move back there? I can’t let her do that! But I can’t have her here forever. I think that will be too stressful for all of us. I love her, but dang, I wish she could finally take charge of her life and make the decisions needed to move forward.
I can’t fix any of this. And I’m not unbreakable either. It’s all feeling rather fragile right now.