Have you ever been so tired that you didn't think you could put one foot in front of the other to walk? Have you ever worked so hard that every single muscle in your body ached? What about having carpet burn on your knees from crawling around on the floor? Well, if you haven't, one piece of advice: NEVER EVER allow it to happen! Naaw, I'm just kidding. Hard work is good for the soul, even if every burning muscle is screaming passionately for mercy.
I would say the last 18 months have been a doozy. When we finally found out that my mom was sick, she was in her last four months of life. Since her death, my dad has needed our care and attention and we have been more than happy to be there for him. After all, he is my daddy and I will be forever grateful for the life he gave me growing up. Now it is his turn to receive our care. But it seems when you very least expect it, an aging parent can become more like a little child than a parent and it is truly hard to see him decline when at one point in your life he was the strongest person you knew. But my dad still has a good mind and I am very thankful for that. It is always a treat to sit and talk with him about his day. Which mostly involves eating, watching TV, napping, and sitting outside on the porch. A conversation with him will always leave me smiling, if not laughing. He still has a good sense of humor at 89.
It's been a long drawn-out process for taking the needed action to make sure Daddy has everything he needs at this time in his life. Just like giving birth to your first child and facing all the uncertainties of taking them home from the hospital where they are lovingly cared for in the arms of professionals, it's very much the same when you begin to care for an elderly parent. Exactly HOW do I do this, now? Also like a surprise pregnancy, we are sometimes caught totally off guard when we are thrust from being the "cared for" to the "caregiver." It doesn't matter how many books you read, how much you psyche yourself up mentally for either time of life, or how much love is in your heart for that new baby or that aging parent, you are not prepared. I have found through experience that there is no 100-percent plan or preparation for either of these two life events. Every baby and every elderly person is different. So most people do what me and my siblings have done...we fly by the seat of our pants! One day at a time, one emotional decision at a time. Sweet Jesus.
Our first hurdle to jump was finding the proper place for my dad to live...somewhere he would be lovingly cared for and where they offered things to enrich his life. I am so thankful that we found such a place. My daddy's life is more active now, he gets his meds regularly and ON TIME and he has gained a few needed pounds. His color is even better, due I think to the fact that he has three healthy meals a day. Imagine that! He is able to take in the many social opportunities offered at his assisting living home and has daily, constant interaction with others. I would say he's doing pretty well and as well as any 89-year-old man can do, having lost the love of his life.
So since moving my dad to assisted living, we have begun the daunting task of sorting through, packing up, selling, and dispersing the many things my parents accumulated over their 66 years together. Do I keep this or sell it? I can't get rid of this because it was precious to mama so it's precious to me. I can't get rid of that; they had that for 50 years! Did Mama really keep my lock of hair from 58 years ago (eww...)? These are some of the hard decisions we've had to make since beginning this heart-tugging process. In recent weeks, we have been sorting, cleaning, painting, and just generally preparing the house for putting it on the market. It's been a task of love, endless days of fatigue (bodily, mentally, and emotionally), and finally now a time where we are beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel. I have been reminded through this process that teamwork is essential when getting through any life crisis. You call your family for help. You call your friends for moral support. You call in the doctor, the preacher, and other professionals if you have to. But somehow, some way, you get the job done. And even though I sometimes think I'd like to move to a deserted island, I've also been reminded that no one is an island and we need each other. You do what you have to do, because someone is depending on you.
So today I have a rare and cherished day to recoup, to re-focus, to renew. My mind is whirling with all we've accomplished and all left to accomplish, but I will keep my body still and mostly immobile if I am able. I want to encourage you who might be stumbling around with duties and responsibilities that seem insurmountable at times and threaten to surely throw you down a long, rocky hill head-first. You can get through it. In fact, you not only can get through it, but survive it in a way that you can use it to help others. Share the pain you've suffered. Give others needed hope for tomorrow. People can benefit from your hardships by seeing that it is possible to survive. You can be an inspiration in this world.
But now my right butt-cheek is crying for some heat and my lower back for an icepack. I will now go tend to them and also remind them to quit complaining because we're about to round a huge curve...but until then, suck it up and carry on!
Posted by CC
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