Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Another Page in Life

Wow, two days in a row, but something different occurred this morning. I've been writing about the role reversal that comes with an aging parent, but it's like I entered a new level of that in my unwilling mind this morning, and I've spent the last hour crying. Mom called and asked (for about the fourth time) if we have to meet with someone at the nursing home today. And for at least the fourth time I explained that we met with them last week, also that we met with the auctioneer yesterday and I'm coming to get her for her foot doctor appointment today . Her response has been the same, "Oh, I'm mixed up." (Even though she has a calendar with all appointments on it.)

Something that is more disturbing were her comments yesterday that she "just doesn't feel well", and feels like when she goes to sleep she'll just stop breathing. It isn't unusual for her to have numerous health complaints, but this one along with her increasing confusion just triggered the deepest grief this morning. I feel as if we've turned a corner, and Mom isn't Mom anymore as I've always known her. Of course she's aging and changing, and I must adjust as we go along that path, but this was more like an almost overpowering jolt as we turned over a new page in the process. The bottom line is, I just don't want to let go of my real Mom! Please don't go! To be truly unselfish, I should be thinking about it from her perspective and feeling her pain, but I can't even go there.

Well, the tears are over, and I'm taking deep breaths. Just writing this helps me get a grip and lose the self pity. I seem to have become the custodian of not only her photo albums with memories of many years, but also of her short term memory. There are some days that I feel I need help with my own organizational skills, but in some ways having these new responsibilities is forcing me to sharpen my brain. If anything is good about this, maybe that's it. With Mom and my son it's time to keep the old brains cells at attention and thinking for three. Maybe eat more fish? Well, at least just smile and move on. Life is better when we're needed.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Shaking off the "Shoulds"

I just read an interview of Amy Finley by Jennifer Merritt on iVillage. Amy Finley was the winner of "The Next Food Network Star" in 2007 on the Food Network, and was set up for her own show. Citing a "family crisis" she left her show. In summary, the interview focuses on her reasons for leaving this life changing opportunity, and what she is doing now.

The one statement that grabbed my attention was her reason for auditioning for the competition at the beginning. She states, "I was feeling lost in the period of stay-at-home parenthood, when you’re in a panic about who you are." The whole interview is interesting and I admire her for her values and priorities, but really identify with that lost and panicky feeling she had.

The lost panicky feeling has cropped up for me, not due to being a stay-at-home mom, but in the responsibilities of helping an aging parent and a handicapped son. I've sort of buried myself in my computer and housework since I retired about 6 years ago, partly because my self-image was so glued to my occupation. I was just beginning to come out of this land of "who am I really?", when Mom started having more needs for help. Like Amy Finley, my family is more important to me than anything, but I am finding it necessary to find and keep my own identity alive apart from being a caretaker. It's a process, and I am determined to consciously make time to do "my own thing" each day rather than let the hours get swallowed up in caretaking, housework or mindless computer time. I sure don't have a handle on that ideal yet, but I really want to get some creative projects back into my life. I have taken up crocheting again and I want to resume painting and writing - just for me. It's just another one of those things that we have to figure out as we go, but not get sidetracked by the "shoulds". You know - the "I should be doing this (or that)" thing. Then there are the "have to" things, but that's another level to deal with.

Well, that's enough for today's introspection. I should be vacumning the floors, doing laundry and have to meet with the auctioneer this afternoon about Mom's estate auction.

Friday, August 19, 2011

One of Those Days

Yesterday was one, but today is new and sunny! That's not saying all the circumstances are now in order and there's no sadness, but a new perspective has rolled away some clouds. There's not much to say about negative emotions except that they are not welcome, but sometimes enevitable. Sometimes circumstances trigger them and sometimes they just seem to rise up like fog for no apparent reason. Thankfully as I've aged this involuntary moodiness has all but vanished. I don't know if that's one of the perks of maturity or the death of the hormone roller coaster of youth and mid-life. Perhaps it's both. However, I found myself in the land of woe yesterday having a real honest to goodness pity party. I hadn't been there in a long time and forgot how much I dislike it. The good part is that I didn't even give a thought to my old coping tool, the cigarettes. I turned instead to Facebook.

The morning started with the failure of my son's bus to pick him up for work. I called and they did come an hour and a half late. In the meantime I received a call telling me an aunt had died unexpectedly following surgery. Then I had to relay the sad news to Mom, who is in the nursing home and coping with the sale of her house and upcoming household auction. I also had to notify my sister who just this week had to spend a night in the hospital with chest pain due to a stress related heart condition. After all this I entered this needy place wanting someone to say, "So sorry, I'm here for you and it will be alright." The mood wasn't totally attributable to the events, but more due to my disfunctional reaction to them.

I went on facebook and posted a couple of items, one about mothers and another U-tube funny. Got no responses to either and that triggered more disgusting self-pity. Then I posted a real self-pity note on impulse. Hanging my petty attitude out in public there without explaining is really stupid! I would have deleted it but got a couple of responses right away and didn't want to add rudeness to my indiscretion. I do apologize to all my friends for my whining. I'm alone about 90% of the time, so I do like having some connection to people, even if only in cyber-space, but it isn't exactly the best place to go when in that self-pity mode. My real help should come through my spiritual source of strength, but sometimes I have to learn that over again the hard way. He does often use friends to lift us up if we ask and then seek support in the right ways.

Before I get deeper into my rambling, the point is, I am so glad to have a much more stable emotional grip on life than I did in my younger years. And I'm grateful for God and friends who don't judge me when I do get under a cloud. God is my consistent source of comfort when I have the sense to turn to Him. Aging is not a negative thing, but a growing evolutionary new level of living. I am enjoying it even with a few bumps in the road and the loss of some physical abilities. Discovery of new perks with maturity is great, and I just have to keep looking for them on the flip side of those bumps.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

New Resolution

Note to self: The best people with whom to discuss politics are those with views identical to mine. But then what's the point? It may be better to just avoid the subject altogether. It's too stressful, and I've heard stress can contribute to weight gain. Hey, that's it! That's why I'm too short for my weight! Conclusion: Too much politics causes overweight!

I'm way too opinionated to discuss these things rationally anyway. My friends who have opposing views seem just as opinionated, so I wouldn't want to cause them stress and weight gain either.

I'm so glad I solved that problem. Now I'll have to find something less stressful to obsess about get interested in. Let's see, I quit Farmville and Mafia Wars. Could get cracking on some major housework. Naaa that's not going to happen. I'm already a black belt in procrastinating on (at, with...?) that one.

Well, at least I came up with a new resolution that will help uncomplicate my life. Avoid all political discussions. So no one send me any more of those provacative political emails even if it's something you think I can't live without knowing! And if someone sees me responding to a political post on Facebook, message me to stop it.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Death of Common Sense

An oldie, but I found the original, and she illustrates our so called "progressive" society so much better than I could.

The Death of Common Sense
Lori Borgman | Sunday, March 15, 1998

"Three yards of black fabric enshroud my computer terminal. I am mourning the passing of an old friend by the name of Common Sense. His obituary reads as follows: Common Sense, aka C.S., lived a long life, but died from heart failure at the brink of the millennium. No one really knows how old he was, his birth records were long ago entangled in miles and miles of bureaucratic red tape. Known affectionately to close friends as Horse Sense and Sound Thinking, he selflessly devoted himself to a life of service in homes, schools, hospitals and offices, helping folks get jobs done without a lot of fanfare, whooping and hollering.

Rules and regulations and petty, frivolous lawsuits held no power over C.S. A most reliable sage, he was credited with cultivating the ability to know when to come in out of the rain, the discovery that the early bird gets the worm and how to take the bitter with the sweet.

C.S. also developed sound financial policies (don't spend more than you earn), reliable parenting strategies (the adult is in charge, not the kid) and prudent dietary plans (offset eggs and bacon with a little fiber and orange juice).

A veteran of the Industrial Revolution, the Great Depression, the Technological Revolution and the Smoking Crusades, C.S. survived sundry cultural and educational trends including disco, the men's movement, body piercing, whole language and new math. C.S.'s health began declining in the late 1960s when he became infected with the If-It-Feels-Good, Do-It virus.

In the following decades, his waning strength proved no match for the ravages of overbearing federal and state rules and regulations and an oppressive tax code. C.S. was sapped of strength and the will to live as the Ten Commandments became contraband, criminals received better treatment than victims and judges stuck their noses in everything from Boy Scouts to professional baseball and golf.

His deterioration accelerated as schools implemented zero-tolerance policies. Reports of 6-year-old boys charged with sexual harassment for kissing classmates, a teen suspended for taking a swig of Scope mouthwash after lunch, girls suspended for possessing Midol and an honor student expelled for having a table knife in her school lunch were more than his heart could endure.

As the end neared, doctors say C.S. drifted in and out of logic but was kept informed of developments regarding regulations on low-flow toilets and mandatory air bags. Finally, upon hearing about a government plan to ban inhalers from 14 million asthmatics due to a trace of a pollutant that may be harmful to the environment, C.S. breathed his last.

Services will be at Whispering Pines Cemetery. C.S. was preceded in death by his wife, Discretion; one daughter, Responsibility; and one son, Reason. He is survived by two step-brothers, Half-Wit and Dim-Wit.

Memorial Contributions may be sent to the Institute for Rational Thought. Farewell, Common Sense. May you rest in peace."

Copyright © 1999-2011 Lori Borgman

Monday, August 1, 2011

Mom's Memory Lane

These last few weeks and months have been another turning point or bump in the road. Mom has been living in a care center since a serious fall last November. She has gradually decided to stay there permanently. She moved from a double to a private room and we've slowly been moving some of her possessions in. Working out storage solutions for them in the small room has been a challenge.

Now her house has been sold, so all sorting and decisions have to be somewhat final. 88 years of memories are involved, not just material things. I'm finding that she was like me in saving memorabilia. Going through all her elementary, high school and teaching records, cards, photos, recipes, etc. has been time consuming, and there is still much more to do. But it's also something else that's difficult to describe. Fun isn't the right word, but it is a pleasant, sometimes misty eyed journey back in time before and after I was part of her life. She saved so many things that jog memories which would have otherwise been lost in the scramble of today's hectic living. Mom has already lost many of the memories too, and I'm happy that some come back as we sift through her treasures.

So ends my own de-cluttering project for now. I'm actually accumulating more stuff. *Sigh* But it will all work out. Someday someone may have to travel down my memory lane when I can no longer keep the material mementos of what was once so important to me.