I nearly stepped on a land mine yesterday but caught myself before it blew my head off. The land mine was, when visiting mom the other day, she asked "could I come stay with you?" Oh, man. Can I tell you the pain and guilt that rushed up, just for a second, when I said " I couldn't take care of you, mom". Had I been in my right mind I would have just ducked the question all together, but I never know when mom is really lucid and when she's not, and to me, part of being treated with dignity is for people not to blow off what you've asked them, unless it's just totally nuts. Then you can. This one caught me completely off guard and emotionally unprepared. For a second I forgot I don't have to assume she really even knows or understands what she's asked, just like little kids, but the feelings rushed up anyway.
I almost went there--to Guilt and Shame land. I almost told myself I wasn't doing enough, blah, blah, blah, until that little voice at the back of my head said "Honey...get over yourself. You are doing the very best job you can AND when in this wide world has your mom ever been really HAPPY"? Answer: NEVER. And with that, I had to laugh and go on. Ahhhh, reality is such a nice place, when I return back from a quick trip to Nutville.
Boy, is it ever easy to go there, though. With parents in declining health, you have to watch your step. You can blow up all over yourself, if you aren't real careful.