When I went to my parents and shovelled them out today, after the blizzard, my father wanted me to come in for coffee but he said my mother was mad at me. While her memory is failing, and while she is becoming delusional (she has advancing vascular dementia) she recalls that I told her, 3 weeks ago, that her memory was failing. This has been translated into a false attack on her, and she does not want to see me. My father agrees that she is demented and paranoid, and he tells me he has to humour her.
She has always explained her moods as reactions to perceived slights – often something as subtle as a look or a silence, always blamed her moods on someone else. When her children were involved, her moods often turned to anger and violence. She always justified her actions as discipline, and she demanded my father’s support in her criticism of her children. I can’t say he supported her willingly and unconditionally, but he always humoured her. In fact he spent a good deal of his time placating and supporting her in her distress over various moods and ailments, real and imagined and he seems to have gone through life acting as if he was letting her down. I don’t know what options he had at the time. He loved her, and he needed to take the edge off of her moods to protect her from doing worse.
I hope I have not followed her pattern of blaming other people for my moods, but I became acutely sensitive to her moods, defensive and reactive. I think I have taken that it into my dealings with other people.
I don’t know how to support my dad now. I don’t think humouring her is working, but he won’t accept outside help because he is afraid of how she will react, and a bit stubborn about the issue himself.