Thursday, May 7, 2009

a request re: sudden, unannounced visits

Mom thoroughly enjoyed her Monday birthday party, a lengthy affair that occurred in stages and may have involved up to nine visitors, all arriving at staggered intervals. The next day, however, Mom said, "Please tell people not to come today." I think we ended up with visitors on Tuesday anyway, but this is mainly because we hadn't yet sounded out Mom's reasons for why she felt this way.

As it turns out, Mom was (understandably) tired from all the activity on Monday. I think she is also, generally, a bit stressed out by the sheer number of calls and visits that have occurred since news of her cancer became public knowledge. I'd add, as a personal note, that Mom does a great job of worrying about other people, but can't stand to have other people outside her immediate family worrying about her. Those who have seen or called her since her operation (and just before it, too) know that she has tended to end conversations quickly, and has often seemed to be shooing people out the door in ways both subtle and brazen. These behaviors reflect her discomfiture regarding others' sympathy or pity, so please don't be surprised if she doesn't act like Morrie Schwartz from Tuesdays with Morrie. Dr. Schwartz tended to welcome all comers, even involving them in the frequently messy day-to-day aspects of his care as his body atrophied from ALS. Mom would never do that, no matter how bad things got.

So in talking with Mom last night, I discovered that she's not too keen on having many visitors, especially unexpected ones. Some of her close friends have, understandably, tried to drop by with little or no warning, sometimes just to chat, sometimes to drop off dinner. This is extremely thoughtful, and I know Mom appreciates this. But based on my talk with Mom, I get the impression that she'd rather have the torrent reduced to a trickle.

In the interest of managing these visits better, and in order to give Mom the chance to say yes or no to them, I'd like to request that all potential visitors please give us at least 1-2 days' advance notice of their intention to drop by. Close friends of Mom might be put off by this, and I apologize, but she does have a point. After all, kindness and consideration aren't the same thing: sometimes, in trying to be kind, we fail to be considerate-- e.g., by not asking whether the family has already made dinner for Mom (we've already had some problems storing the veritable mountain of food we've received from many different sources), or giving us only five minutes' warning of impending arrival, etc. Were Mom healthier, this would be less of an issue, but right now, I'd ask everyone to respect Mom's wishes and to give us 24-48 hours' advance notice before trying to come over.

A note to people who have already dropped by unannounced: please don't feel bad. No one's upset about anything. Our feeling is that it's better to communicate all this now-- to set boundaries now, before this becomes a real problem-- than to grouch about it later on. Communication is always better than a lack of communication.

You can contact us through the email address listed on this blog's sidebar, or via our various phone numbers, if you know them. (Email me if you need one of our numbers.)

Thanks, as always, to all of you.


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