Thank you for your emails and comments of concern after my last post about the Silent Phone.  I wanted to update you on what’s happened since.

House Call

My sister, Lynn, went over to Mom’s house to check up on her at my request.  Lynn and Mom don’t speak anymore, so I get the fun “in the middle” position.  Anyway, Lynn went to the house but Mom’s van was gone, so she left a note on the door to call me.  That was a Tuesday.  Days went by.  By now, it’s been nearly a month.  At least I knew she wasn’t buried under her stuff inside the house…otherwise her van would have been in the driveway.  However, now I could only assume she’s had an accident some where.  I considered calling the police.

I called again out of habit on the Sunday, and lo & behold, she answered!!

Another Lost Cell Phone

Yup.  She lost it.  And had to buy another one.  She’s on her 3rd phone in less than 2 years.  What a waste.  She said she was hoping the last one would turn up some where but finally had to break down and buy another.  Wouldn’t you know…she lost the newest one the very next night!  Aye yai yai! Somehow she was able to find it because a friend kept calling every 20 minutes and she followed the sound of the ringing.  Luckily, it was still charged, or she would have been out of luck again!  Turns out it was buried deep in her knitting bag.  Would that happen to be the same size 18 month knitted sweater project she started for my youngest daughter…now 3 and a half?

Lack of Concern

As relieved as I was to finally hear her voice, I’m angry!  I’m angry she let me wonder for a month.  I asked her why she didn’t call me collect or borrow someone else’s phone.  I told her I was afraid she was dead.  She mildly replied “Oh, I was fine.  I didn’t think of calling collect until a few days ago.  Thanks for your concern though.”

That’s it?  Thanks for your concern?  Don’t you care that I care?  I’m hurt.

Land Line

And I’ve learned she’s STILL paying for her landline.  That’s about $80 a month for nothing.  When I mentioned cancelling it, Mom said “Actually, I’m going to call the phone company this week to get on them again about fixing the problem.”

Mom…they’re not going to be able to do anything for you.  You won’t let them into the house anyway, so what’s the point?

Well, that didn’t last long.  Time for an update on the Case of the Silent Phone. Mom has already lost her new cell phone.  She got it at the end of April, and now it’s lost in her pile of possessions.  Apparently, it’s been lost for 2 weeks already, AND it’s the second time she’s lost it.  I can’t say I’m surprised.  I knew from the start it was going to be difficult for her.  She’s got hoarded piles on every surface and no where to create a dedicated space for it.

I didn’t hear from her for our regular Sunday chat, but thought maybe she was just sleeping.  Then I called on the anniversary of Dad’s death to let her know I was thinking of her, and figured maybe she was just feeling low and wanted to be alone with her grief.  It makes a whole lotta sense now that I know the cell phone is lost.

At least, I got to see her today.  She told me she just can’t imagine how she lost the phone.  And how she lost another important piece of paperwork she’d filled out and promptly lost.


Then we got to chatting about the carpet in her house and how much she’d LOVE to replace it with hardwood.  Uh huh.  I know the carpet IS hideous.  I lived with it, too.  It was great when I accidentally smushed Play-Doh into it as a child and no one was ever able to tell; maybe you’re familiar with it, too, if you remember the 70s.  But now, there’s probably only 1% of the carpet showing in all the house.

Extreme Makeover

She did admit her house needs a lot of work.  Ha.  Let me repeat that.  HA!  And that the best thing to happen would be for the house to be struck by lightning.  Yup.  That’s what she wishes for.  For her house and home of 33 years to go up in a big ball of flames.  Can you imagine?  My childhood memories in a pile of ash.

Lynn said to her “You’d never make it out in time.”

Mom got that thin smile she effects on when conversation takes this kind of turn, and smugly insisted “Oh yes I would. No problem at all.  I’d just tuck the dog under my arm and away I’d go.”

Sigh.  How do you answer that when you know it simply isn’t true?

And, how would I even know, when she has no way of calling to tell me?

It’s been a few weeks since Mom told me she was getting a cell phone.  I was excited at first, but that wore off as day after day passed and still no call from her “new phone.”

I’m guessing she has procrastinated and has found other things to do instead.  Compulsive hoarders have a tendency to delay making decisions out of fear of making the wrong decision.  I’ve seen it time and time again with Mom.

She has a pile of boxes heavy with papers under the desk…the very same boxes she needed to move to check the phone jack on the wall.  She was attempting to go through these boxes paper by paper in case there was something important in there she shouldn’t throw away.  This meant ALL the papers got kept when only a handful should have been filed and the rest recycled (or shredded for privacy, which is another way of delaying because, um, she doesn’t have a shredder.)  The result of her dithering is a desk still jammed with paper boxes and no way to access the phone jack.  She’s still paying for the phone service, by the way, and because she wanted to keep the same phone number has maintained a more costly business line they had for my Dad.  The phone company also requires 30-60 days written notice of cancellation, so we’re looking at a loss of about $400 since November.

When I began this post, I thought about my own trouble making decisions.  My husband and I do research for a long time before making most decisions.  It’s a good thing to know what you’re getting into, but eventually you have to s*** and get off the pot (sorry for the crudeness).  My husband and I planned to get a new front door for over 18 months.  We had contractors come give us quotes.  We drove around the neighbourhood looking at other people’s front doors.  I visited several door & window stores looking at options.  If Pinterest had been around then, I’m sure I’d still be pinning to a “Front Door” board!  There were SO many options, we couldn’t pick just one.

Then, one day, Lowes had a sale on doors.  We walked in, pointed at one we both liked, and it was installed a week later.  We loved it!  It brighten the face of our house, is more energy efficient, and has better ventilation.  Why hadn’t we just done that from the beginning?  We make life too complicated sometimes.

Just Make Up Your Mind!

I want to be better at making decisions.  I think it could be a learned skill, and I want to model decisiveness for my daughters.  So I Googled “how to make decisions” or something like that, and saw a wealth of information out there.  It seems there are some common factors why people can’t make up their minds:

  • Too many advisors
  • Too many choices
  • Fear of worst case scenarios
  • Analysis paralysis
  • Talking yourself out of a decision

But there are some things you can do to help yourself.

  • Set a deadline for making the decision
  • Accept you might make a bad decision, be ok with it, and learn from the failure
  • Manage your emotions

It seems people make decisions with their hearts more than their heads.  Emotions aren’t rational and can confuse you from making a good decision.  If you struggle with a bossy heart, consider these:

  • Imagine a blank slate in your head.  Don’t allow any other thoughts or feelings and start from scratch.  (I’ve seen this work…I mean, it works for a character in the Pokemon graphic novels I’ve been reading with my 6 year old, Maddie, so surely…..)
  • What’s your body telling you?  Take a breath, calm your nerves, and still your movements to focus.
  • Visualize the outcome of your decision, and evaluate what would work and what wouldn’t.  Is it really so bad either way?
  • Ask do you need it, or just want it?  This is especially important for hoarders, or compulsive shoppers.  If it’s a basic need, it’s easy enough for your brain to make that decision.  But if you want it, well, that’s desire.  Desire is an emotion.  Emotions colour our thinking with all sorts of confliction, and we find we’ve talked ourselves into buying/eating/bringing home something we really didn’t need.  It could lead us to a temporary high, and then the all-too-familiar emotion, remorse.  And that…is just a bad decision.
  • Practice makes perfect.  Apply these methods often to get better at them.  Decision-making opportunities come up daily…sometimes, several times an hour!

You might find other useful ideas online.

I’m going to have to give these ideas a try.  Let me know if they work for you.  And remember, not all decisions are life or death.  What to have for lunch, what colour socks to wear (I choose black almost always), what route to drive to work…these are examples of ordinary low-risk decisions.  I want to get really good at making up my mind in these situations, and I’ll be better prepared for bigger, higher-risk decisions.   No more dithering or waffling.  No more sweating the details while missing the bigger picture.  No more fretting over beautiful, energy efficient front doors while the old ugly one lets in drafts.

In the meantime, I realize I can’t fault my Mom her indecision.  I recognize it’s part of who she is.  It’s part of her illness.  And perhaps she was never taught the skill of quick decision making.  I know she didn’t teach it to me.  I’ll find the patience next time I’m waiting for Maddie to choose between Raisin Bran & Cheerios at breakfast time.  We’ll work on the wants vs needs issues if they arise.  I’m sure they will.

While I can’t control the choices of others, I am in full control of my own choices. Knowing that is empowering.

It’s been decided.  Just a mere 4.5 months since her home phone line failed, Mom has announced she’s getting a cell phone.

She called me from Lynn’s house 2 nights ago to ask what would be a good deal for her to get.  She can’t afford an expensive plan, and doesn’t want to be locked in, but also doesn’t want a pay-as-you-go type either.  I told her about the plan I have through Koodo which is very affordable.  She doesn’t need a smart phone; she just needs something that makes and takes phone calls, with easy to read buttons and screens.  If there was a cell phone that looked and behaved like the rotary phone from my childhood, I think she’d pick that.

Mom is a bit concerned she’ll lose this phone, like she did the one I bought her about 5 years ago.  I’m concerned about that too, and also that she’ll forget to charge it or take it with her when she goes out.  But I DO think it’s good she’s finally making a decision about this…she must deep down know that there’s a bigger problem here.  I won’t push it for now, but support her in making the move to join this era of new fangled things.