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What is to be done when a chain of events occurs, and as it’s playing out you know what is going to happen (and it’s not good), but can do nothing at all to stop it?  So, you try to busy yourself, or pray, or whatever will take your mind off of it until the inevitable bomb finally drops.  It’s a helpless feeling, and can drive a person mad if there is no attempt to try and control this feeling.

We just can’t control what other people do, and most of the time that’s not a problem.  We shouldn’t be able to control everybody and everything.  It’s those times that other people do things (or don’t do things) that have a negative outcome on us or someone we care about that have us wanting to pull our hair out.

My parents are elderly and trusting people.  When someone takes advantage of them I tend to want to put a stop to it.  So, when it was apparent that a ne’er-do-well relative had probably stolen from them, I wanted his head on a plate.  We’re not talking about stolen pocket change here — we’re talking about the potential to wipe them out.

My parents refused to do anything about it.  They didn’t want to believe that someone they knew so well would do that to them — someone they had helped, given support to, been good to.  “He would never do that,” was their attitude.  I guess if they wanted to feel that way it would have been all right, except that while they were sitting around doing nothing all of their accounts could be in the process of being drained.

Now that things are back to normal and it turns out that the missing things were most likely misplaced by a confused elderly lady, the uneasy, helpless feeling is still nagging.  Why?

Because this is the first time that Mom has ever shown that she is slipping.  Fast.  Oh, there have been isolated things she has done that raised an eyebrow with us, but nothing quite so glaringly obvious.  Today she was confused, saying one thing one time and the total opposite another, forgetful, unable to keep a straight thought in her head — and the very worst part (and the one that makes me cry) is that she knows it.

My parents do what they want.  I can advise them until I’m blue in the face on what kinds of options there are, which in this case would be to see a doctor and/or get medication that slows this kind of progression down.  But if a person does not want to do anything about it, they are just not going to do anything about it.

Mom said to me over the phone today, “I’m really afraid I’m slipping, and I don’t know how much longer….” and then she trailed off and forgot what she was saying.

If you knew my mom, and knew how level-headed she has always been, you would know why this is so disturbing to me.  I mean, I always knew my parents (or anybody for that matter) were not going to live forever.  And I have always known there was a possibility that Dad or Mom might one day start “slipping,” I just had always thought it would be more gradual and that they would be clueless about it.

I thought about what it would be like if that were happening to me and I knew about it — would I be scared, or worried, or care?  My fear, of course, is that Mom might be feeling scared.  Maybe not.  It’s not something she wants to talk about, and the time she’ll be able to talk about it may be slipping away.

And there’s not a thing I can do about it.