Insight

Mom and Dad, 1989

It’s been a tough few months. My mother woke up one day and said her back hurt terribly. We were hoping it would get better, but instead it got progressively worse.  

The next day when she couldn’t get out of bed, I had no choice but to call an ambulance. It turned out that she had five stress fractures in her spine, a result of osteoporosis and sitting all the time.

She spent a week in the hospital and was moved to a nearby skilled nursing facility, where she got the care she needed, but she still complained of intense pain. They took another x-ray and found that she had fractured her hip somewhere between the hospital and care center. Probably because her bones are so brittle, but I think, too, that the aides didn’t realize how fragile she is.

They sent her home a few weeks later because she really had nowhere else to go. Her case worker helped as much as she could, but the family had to decide the best option. So here we are, playing the waiting game, literally. She’s been put on the waiting list for three different care facilities. I didn’t realize there were so many older people, but I suppose it’s because people are living longer.

I always told my mom that I would stay with her until I couldn’t take care of anymore, and I’m afraid we’re there. She can’t do a lot for herself and I’m sure she will be much better off, getting the care she needs, in a care center.

It’s horrible watching your parents get old; not being able to do the things they used to, depressed because they can’t remember the things they did.  And to experience that close-up and personal, well, it’s quite an awakening. I’ve had to adjust my attitude more than a few times. My patience has been tested to the limit, and it’s all I can do to keep it all together.

But it’s not just the taking-care-of-her part, it’s all the emotions that come with it. The family unit is being tested, and with so many different personalities, everyone wanting to be heard and in control, it’s sometimes hard to tolerate. And I’m right in the middle of it all.

Some days I just want to run away.  But I won’t. I know God has put me here to take care of my mom. The things I am learning about myself and my mom are astounding, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. And I get to spend quality time with one of the most amazing people I know.

Our relationship has changed over the years. There was a time when I was angry with her and resentful, but that has long-since been resolved. I know it’s because of the time I have spent with her. I’ve gotten to know her not as my mom, but as a person, and I have seen a side of her most people never will.

I didn’t get a chance to tell my dad how much he meant to me before he died, but I can tell my mom. Or at least show her; I do that by being here for her.

We all think we have time – time to tell people how we feel, heal broken relationships, and do all the things we want to – until we don’t anymore. I’m just grateful I have the insight to realize that.

 

 

 

 

Visit my website at tributecr.com

 

 

The challenges of living in a different world

My 80-year-old mother can’t understand texting, or Facebook, and wants to know what googling means.

She said that she sometimes gets overwhelmed trying to understand it all. “I’m living in a different world.”

She is. And so are millions of other people. Things are changing so fast it’s hard to keep up.

“Why do kids need to text when they’re standing right next to each other? Why don’t they just use their phone to call? What’s an ‘App’? Why do so many people want to “friend” me? Why do my grandkids tell me that they have to ‘google’ it when I ask them a simple question?”

My mother has seen a lot of life. She remembers the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor because, she said, she was walking home from the Paramount Theater downtown and was crossing Green Square when someone started yelling.

“They were yelling ‘Extra! Extra!’ like you see in the movies,” she said. “That’s what they did back then. All we had were newspapers and the radio to find out what was happening in the world. Sometimes it took days and even weeks. Now we know everything in a matter of minutes.”

She said their first TV was not very good but they were in awe of it.

“We thought  it was the greatest thing in the world! But then I thought that about cable TV, too,” she said with a laugh. “Now I go to watch TV and there’s nothing on I want to watch!”

She admits that she is kind of leery of the computer. “I’m afraid I’m going to do something to make it crash,” she said. “I’m thinking about getting a laptop, though. But then I think, would I use it?”

My mother retired from Rockwell as an editor and said their computer took up an entire room. “We had to cut and paste our manuals, so we couldn’t make any mistakes,” she said, after I explained to her that we do all our layout for the newspaper on the computer now. “We’d get them done and see an error after they were printed. My boss didn’t like that,” she said with a chuckle.

“I had to input codes into the computer to get it to do anything,” she said. “One wrong code and it wouldn’t work.”

It’s almost too easy nowadays.

She said the only time she uses a computer now is to order things online and for e-mails.

“Does anyone use the postal service anymore?” she asked. And then added, “Probably why so many are closing their doors.”

It must be hard for her to watch so many things changing in the world. She uses a walker and has a difficult time getting  around. She just sits at home with her dog and watches the world from her chair. She has a lot of visitors, who fill her in on other changes in the world.

She confides to me that she has a hard time understanding her grandchildren and sometimes I have to translate, but then she laughs about it.

“I remember when…” is usually followed by a quick story of simpler times.

I often wonder what the world will be like when I’m 80. More than likely, I will be asking pretty much the same questions, “What’s this?” and  “When did everything change?”