The view from here.

Too much has happened between this post and the last.

There are many ways I could explain why it is I haven’t posted more regularly. That “250 words a day” banner is chiding me.  I have the (admin) power to take it down and yet I don’t.  Those “shoulds” have been swirling about my head for a while…I should have written more, I should have kept up with the #ds106 community better, I should paid have closer attention to my rss feeds, I should… I should… I should… bleech.

Over the past 6 months and since the last post here my life has been rich and full and complicated and exhausting and as much as I might have wanted it to be otherwise,  blogging simply has not been a part of it. So be it.

The only Faulkner quote I remember from college seems appropriate right now…”Don’t complain; don’t explain.” And so… I won’t.

Here is my life right now. I am in Maine, caring for my 88 year old mom while my sister, who has been here living with and taking care of my parents for 9 months, takes a break. My 90 year old dad is 10 miles down the road in assisted living. My mom will be joining him there shortly.

It is hot outside (well hot for Maine…the 80s)  The humidity is high.  From the screened in porch in my parents’ retirement village I can hear the highway hissing and humming with the sound of cars running up and down the Maine Turnpike.  The tourists are back.

Mom is at the breakfast table. That’s her spot in the house.  If she is not in the bathroom, or in bed, she is here, sitting in the chair, looking out the window at the birdfeeders.   She has yesterday’s local newspaper, which she is reading word for word, again and again.  She has her lists and she’s adding to them..she’s combining them…and copying them over  She has her calendars: doctors appointments, family visits, birthdays, anniversaries.  Her life is a constant ebb and flow of organizing information while simultaneously losing track of it.

She’s watching the squirrels devour all of the seed on the birdfeeders, despite the contraptions and barricades that we have created to thwart them. The squirrels and the chipmunks provide entertainment as they go flying on the Twhirl A Squirrel or sliding on the slippery (thanks to Vaseline) shepherd’s hook feeder holder.

There was time when Mom would rise to the challenge and load up her day-glo yellow water pistol and go out into the yard and zap the intruding rodents.  But that time has passed, it seems. Now she sits, and watches, and quietly comments on the antics of “Chippy” the chipmunk and the occasional intrepid goldfinch or sparrow.

Our roles have reversed. Mom and Dad are no longer providing for us…my siblings and I are now providing for them. This has been a gradual and not very graceful change of responsibilities…I come from a long line of stubborn, self-assured, independent New Englanders who don’t like to ask for help even when it is needed, especially if it even hints of weakness. This has not been pretty.

I am reminded of 18 years ago and a similar hot summer in Maine.  Back then I was tending to an almost 1 year old son. His movements were predictable, contained, restricted…and exhausting.  Mom was hale and hearty then, active and alert, albeit fresh from having just had her first visit with cancer and at the beginning point  of the years of subsequent surgeries and treatments.

When watching a new baby wriggle and squirm there is anticipation of all of the movement that was yet to come. With an elderly parent, movement happens in a mist of sadness and regret about all that is no longer possible, about all that requires assistance, and all that has faded from the realm of possibility. With both there is a similar need for caution and concern…their movements sometimes can lead to falls, spills, mishaps, and injury. 

Throughout the day as I sit here in Maine, I feel that same level of anxious attentiveness now with my mom as I did then with my then squirming child.  Much as I did when my children were wee, I find myself hoping to have the strength to be able to know when to keep her safe from harm while given her the space she needs.

How ironic: Just as my children have come to grow less dependent upon their parents… my parents are growing more dependent upon their children.

Enough for now… I need to back to the immediate tasks at hand: doctors visits, dressing changes, meals to think about, meds to dispense, and yes, whether we will be eating with the Red Sox on TV tonight or not.

And I need to I remind myself, above all, of what a gift this is to be here, now, with her and my dad.

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  1. I’m glad to see you back online, and I’m sending good vibes for this time with your mom. My mom is going through a similar situation with my grandmother, and I know it’s both rewarding and exhausting.

  2. Thanks, Leslie. Good to hear from you! It is good to be “back” I guess although I must say that it is even better to have a way to pass the time between doctor’s visits, being on hold with MedCo, making meals, cleaning up after meals and oh…watching baseball.

    My now 16 year old son will be in this exact same spot, provided I make it to 88, about 35 years from now. If nothing else I hope I model for him, and his brother, how we ought to care for our parents, even though the temptation is to do otherwise… (given how frustrating, exasperating, bureaucratic and sloooooooooow this over 80 y.o. world can sometimes be).

    Oh but wait, by the time I am 88 there probably won’t even BE a Medicare program anymore given the ways some of the current doctors are gouging it (some of my parents’ doctors being oh so guilty of jumping on that gravy train).

    There is so much wrong with how our society treats the elderly. There is so much more that is wrong with how some people simply choose to forget about them as well. My parents’ neighbors remind us often that our family is in the minority…children that actually still attend to their parents’ needs vs institutionalizing them and forgetting about them.

    And yet, ooooh boy, this. is.hard.

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