I found out yesterday that my aunt has gone into hospice and that my mom has stage 3 kidney disease. My mom might be okay, but since my insurance will end soon, I am going to see if I am a match in case she needs a donor. My relationship with her isn’t close - I’m not entirely sure how I feel about her - she’s not the nicest, warmest or most supportive person, and at times has been pretty horrible to me. But, it’s just me and her. I have no siblings and my dad died very suddenly at age 53. I was raised on the west coast, so am not close to extended family who mostly live in the south or on the east coast. My closest cousins on my dad’s side (who happen to live near my mom) think gay people are disgusting (which I learned recently - since I last saw them), so not sure how that relationship will fare moving forward. They say they still accept me - but I know that can’t be wholly true. I’m moving to NYC this summer - and will leave near extended family for the first time in my life - and near family period since I was in HS. That may help. All of this is to say - I’m facing my mom’s mortality and it is complicated and rough, and I’m not sure how or what to feel.

My aunt going into hospice is really rough. She is 65. She has alzheimers - and has since at least her early 50s — since my cousin was in high school (I can’t even imagine what that was like for her). My poor cousin is facing her mom’s mortality in her 20s. My poor cousin is also grappling with the fear that she may too develop alzheimers at a very early age. She has an older brother - but he has really distanced himself. He gets blamed a lot - but my aunt, like my mom (they are step sisters) wasn’t the nicest (at least to me - she was sometimes cruel). So, his relationship may be complicated as well. I feel badly that his sister has had to take on a huge burden of caregiving - but I don’t blame him for needing distance.

This aunt was one of my closest relatives when I was a kid. She lived with us for a summer when I was 3 and took care of me. She was brilliant - she lived an amazing life and I wish she had written down everything she did because it was incredible. She was in the peace corps in Africa, and stayed on afterwards for some time. She got a PhD in nutrition and then went to do research in Papua New Guinea. She married an amazing man who does global health work. She and her husband lived in Australia for a while with their kids - and then moved back to the US. She worked for the CDC until her cognitive decline precluded working any longer. Sadly, it sounds like her boss was a bully who tormented her about the signs of her cognitive decline - which likely sped things up a bit because my aunt became depressed and anxious.

I think I’ve mentioned this before - but her nursing home was like the who’s who of DC elite. It was tragic to see these luminaries of politics and policy so decompensated and just shuttled out of public life with no one knowing what they have done for us, and who they were. One ambassador apparently decompensated so quickly that he left his job and in less than a year, had severe Alzheimers and just died at christmas.

Advertisement

I’m babbling now - I appreciate anyone who has read this far for doing so. I have a lot of feelings this morning and needed to get some things out.