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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Losing Your Rights in Senior Years

I just finished reading Mickey Rooney's speech to Congress about how he was abused by family and how he lost his human rights in his later years.

It's a moving speech.

He was an actor.

As a senior citizen here in these United States, let me just say that as of today, I maintain all of my rights. I can eat what I want. I can sleep where and when I want. I can live where and how I want. I have a reasonably sound mind and the ability to meet my own needs. This may not always be true. When it is no longer the case, I hope someone loves me enough to intervene and make decisions "with" me to assure my safety and reasonable health as well as my happiness. In the Golden Years it really should be about happiness. I may not always see where my happiness lies and I pray that my kids or my grandkids will see it and help me focus there.

I'm not denying that elder abuse happens. I'm saying that sometimes what feels like manipulation is really caring and helping. As we age we do lose the ability to be flexible and some of us lose the ability to accept this aging thing with all it's limitations. Often the manipulator is actually trying to secure a better and safer lifestyle. Let's allow for those cases to be seen from the caregivers viewpoint.  Do you just leave your loved senior in an unsafe and unhealthy environment because they want to stay there? They say it's home and they're happy. They are actually depressed and frightened being alone. They don't see that. What then? Butt out? Go on about your own business? Or do you talk and plan and try to convince them that there is a better way? Ultimately, you hope they feel it's their choice, but in fact, it has to happen either way. Emotional blackmail? Mr. Rooney says it is. I say it's loving and protecting and avoiding life in a communal care facility that will not be home, ever.

I pray constantly that I will have the wisdom required to help my mom through her Golden Years. I pray that the love we share will not be tattered and blemished because I insist on her safety. As we are preparing to move south where she will live with us, I pray her happiness will return and my sanity will also. I pray that this move can happen soon for I hear her telling people she has to move. I was so hoping by now she would be be saying she is going to move, rather than has to move.  I know that she feels I am making decisions for her without her input. I am making decisions for her because she has told me that she fears being alone sometimes and yet wants to stay in her own home. She has told me that it's nearing the time that she must move in with us. Yet, left entirely to her, she would remain where she is. She'd love for me to move in with her. I can't. We have dogs and her apartment complex doesn't allow dogs. I have a husband with whom I've planned to move south for many years. I have made every decision along this path considering her needs and her passions. We will be certain to have a walk-in shower for her. We will have a screened in porch. We will have a place that is just hers for her privacy. We will figure a fair financial arrangement so she isn't feeling like a freeloader, but will have a better life. That can be her decision alone, the money thing will matter to her, doesn't matter to us. All of her furniture will be in our new home because it matters to her and I want it to feel like her home. I feel we have made some decisions together, but she feels like I have made them all. Perspective. I get it. Giving up independence. I get that, too. But having a better quality of whatever time we have left together trumps all for me.

Hope she gets that.

Jo


Friday, July 18, 2014

When the Mom is Still the Mom

Today we crossed another milestone of sorts. I bought Momma a beautiful and very functional walker. It's purple and has a cool seat with a padded back rest. Yep, it's as cool as a walker can be. But it's a walker. Now, some would be happy to be able to walk safely just by pushing this little cutie around and some would even be excited to be able to venture outside alone because of it. Some would simply say it'll be nice to use for the night time potty trips and tell you it should be stored in the bedroom next to the bed for just such a case. Oh, that is my Momma...the last one.

I have been watching her stagger and catch herself for months. I have worried constantly about her falling while home alone. I have been reminding her constantly of the "Help I've Fallen" necklace function. That it must be worn at all times. Sometimes it's on the table beside her when I stop in. She takes it off if we are leaving the apartment. She doesn't sleep with it, but keeps it right beside her bed and tells me she carries it with her if she gets up. I hope that is true. I truly believe this walker could restore her independence somewhat. It could make her feel safe venturing outside or even just going around the apartment. She walked so smoothly and so quickly when she tried it out. I was amazed how well she did with it and she seemed unimpressed. It was as if she thinks she always walks like that. I made it very clear that she does not. I hope she listened.

For those of you who have not been in this position, may I just say it's very hard some days to be the kid. I want so much for her that she is unwilling to do. She is still my mom. She is still in charge of her own life. I have limits and I am fighting to keep myself in them. It is my nature to nag her into being more active and eating better and doing what she could do before she is not able. Every week there is something else she is no longer able to do. Her strength is failing rapidly. It's very hard to allow this to happen when you are so aware of how little she would need to do to regain that strength. I am not good at this. I am learning how to keep my big mouth shut, but I'm not exactly there, yet. I'm sure she hopes I get there soon. I hope so, too. Nagging is not working and only upsets us both. Yes, I know this. Yes, I want to be the loving daughter who allows her to be whatever makes her happy. I'm working on this...

The walker was parked in the kitchen when I left because she doesn't like it in the middle of her living room floor. UGH. She does not have company often, but it bothers her just sitting there next to where she sits, though it would only be helpful from that spot. I give up. I hope she figures out how much simpler her mobility would be using it and having it close by. I also hope that I learn to let it be.

I am so blessed to have such a fiesty momma and such a fun person to hang out with and to care for. I am so blessed that she is healthy and for the most part independent in nature and spirit. But mostly I am blessed that at 91 she still wants to be with me even if I am a nag. She knows I only want what's best for her, but I need to learn that what is best for her now is whatever she wants. Period.

If you have this in your future...take my advice and start now learning to butt out. Provide what is needed and offer whatever help is needed and otherwise, shut-up. Just love and enjoy and provide. That's where I'm trying to get.

Jo

Monday, July 14, 2014

Monday Thinking...

Following three showings of our home over the week-end, I am both excited and concerned. The realtor is confused because only one person has suggested the price could come down, so she'll wait for a while. The other "buyers" feel it's priced to sell. I know it's priced where we need it to be in order to move with Momma and find suitable houses in our new destination, Ormond Beach, FL.

ABSOLUTELY determined to stay another winter if our price can't be met. Momma can move in here at the end of our contract to sell and we'll just settle in. That isn't a horrible thing, but just means probably two moves for her and her furniture will have to go to storage, I think.

We had a house full of kids and grandkids last week and hosted a Fourth Party for around 50 or more of our Heroux family. Now that they've all gone back to their own homes and lives, it's very quiet here and as always, a little depressing. Having our quiet, routine life back is a bit comfortable and still a bit too quiet for the first week or so that they aren't here. I really miss them.

Keeping the house ready to show isn't an issue at all, but keeping us out of here for an hour or two with the dogs in the very hot summer has been annoying. We are spending more money in gas to keep the car running to keep puppies cool than we usually spend in a month!  All part of wanting to sell during what we feel is the best time to showcase this resort type backyard.  Maybe we should showcase the extra lot to the east as a winter wonderland for snowmobiling instead.

Mentally making a list of things to improve if we reach the end of this contract without a sale. All the time hoping we don't need to do that.

Noticing a lot of self-improvement posts the last couple of weeks on my news feed. You know, losing weight, exercising, eating healthier, new hair styles and clothing lines all directed at "looking"
better or different. I am always amused by these. I am looking at 65 in my very near future and I simply don't care if I'm "all that" anymore. I honestly don't. I care that I'm healthy. I care that I stay active enough to take care of the things I need to do, but the whole size zero jeans, cut to my navel tops or flappy upper arms...don't care. I have lots of old lady skin. Lots! I don't like it, but it's mine so I don't look at it. I cover it up a lot because I don't want to see it. I don't do make-up hardly ever because I don't want to. I wear my hair as simply as I can and still not cringe when I pass a mirror, but it's far from stylish or current. It's just me. I have been wondering at what point in my life did I actually get this way? I can't remember now, but I know it was gradual. I didn't wake up one day and just start buying clothes that are comfortable over clothes that are cool. For the record, Momma isn't there yet. She still cares a LOT about how she looks. Hair must be done. Clothes must be matched and by her standards, in style.

Done thinking for now...happy Monday people!  If you want to be loved...you gotta love. ❤️

Jo

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

RELOCATION

Back in the fall of 2013 Roomy and I decided to travel to the south and seek an area for retirement. We hoped to be ready for a move in another year. So the plan was to look around the Georgia and Florida border area and maybe some warmer parts of Florida and then up through Atlanta on the way home. We were just looking for a town or county or general location. Since my mom is 91 now and still living in her own apartment, we were thinking a duplex or in-law suite would be perfect. We were planning for her comfort and safety. She seemed okay with the move, in theory.  Though reminding me that she might not be a part of the move because who knows how many days she has left, she never indicated that it would not be a good thing. So we proceeded.

The trip was concluded when we found Ormond Beach, Florida. It felt like our home from the beginning of our tour. We drove around and checked parks, the inter-coastal waterway and current homes for sale. We walked. We drove. We ate. Then we headed up the Atlantic coast to St. Augustine for a visit with friends. We had found our future hometown.

Jacksonville was nice, Savannah was incredible and Atlanta was miserable. None of that mattered. We headed home.

While we were off dreaming and planning, Momma had a medical issue and my sister handled it and took care of her until we got back home. Although we cut our trip short by a week, we had found our spot and were comfortable with the choice. Momma had forgotten that she was part of the plan and declared she had no plan to move and this was all new to her. She said she would not be moving again.

Once we got home and I was able to have a good talk with her, she understood that she simply couldn't stay in the apartment alone much longer. She accepts, though isn't thrilled with, moving with us and into our home. There will not be a need for an in-law suite, just a private bedroom and bath. We're all on the same page again. We moved our plan up a year because I don't want her to have to move twice. If our house sells soon, we won't be in Michigan another winter.

The house is now on the market and showing well. The search for a home in Ormond Beach is on going. I keep a list of what's available.  I will go down once this one is set to close and hopefully, we will be able to move smoothly from here to there. All three of us and two furbabies.

It's a process, but I know it's the right thing for us. I know she will be happier and healthier living in our home.

Relocation is underway and so far, things look good. I believe everything happens as it's supposed to happen and I am going along for the ride.

Jo

Thursday, May 22, 2014

SALUTE TO FAMILIES OF LOST VETERANS 2013

SALUTE TO THE FAMILIES OF VETERANS

As a country we teach our children to honor and respect our veterans and service men and women, now. It is fairly common to see someone shake a hand and say their thank you to a total stranger who is or has served. This was not true back in the Vietnam days. Their return was not met with cheers, thank you or any celebration. The nation thanked those vets by spitting on them or protesting the war as the troops arrived at any airport or train station. It was a horrid and embarrassing time in our history. Most of us have apologized and agonized over that era for many years. Some of us still do. Many of our friends and family were involved in that conflict and many didn't come home. We were not good citizens upon their return and we were not good people. For the thousandth time I would offer my own personal apology. I am so ashamed and so sorry any service person was ever treated with anything short of the highest respect and level of gratitude imaginable and I know that I was not among those who behaved in that way, but I am still human, still a citizen and therefore, share in the embarrassment and the humility for a country turning its back on you who served with honor and returned with scars. I am sorry. I am glad you returned to your families.

To the families of the Vietnam vets who have died much too early because of exposure to so many chemicals or other war injuries, my condolences and my gratitude; my condolences because though you had many years of good life after that conflict, in the end, it took your loved one. I am grateful for the freedom we enjoy because that conflict existed yet saddened by your loss. Every day.

As I look around my world today, I see families who visit the cemetery and lay wreaths, bouquets or mementos on the grave of their loved one. The loved one who gave all for their country. Those families are without a vital part of their daily lives because our country called upon them to hand over a child, husband, brother, sister, mother, father, wife or friend. The graves are a stark reminder of the price of freedom. Not one of those graves is holding a soul that expected to go to war and never return. Not one of them said good-bye to their family expecting never to see or touch them again. Yet, here they lie. Here is where the family will visit and pray for and talk to them until they join them again. Freedom is so much envied around the world and we have it. We have it because these men and women died. They left everything behind and left broken hearts all around this country so that we could continue to enjoy freedom. We don't have a dictator. We don't live in fear of speaking out against our government. We walk where and when we choose and we wave our flags with pride. These people gave their lives, they died for this.

Families are often left wondering where to use the grief. How to make a difference through their grief. How to go on without this person and not give in to despair. Why would freedom be a cause for death? How does a family, a mother, a father, a brother or sister, a child move forward after burying their serviceman/woman?
I simply don't know. I have not experienced this and refuse to judge anyone who has. Whatever helps them accept and move forward in their lives is good enough. Whatever that is because the ultimate sacrifice is not just the soldier who was buried, it's the family that wasn't.

As a mother of a Navy Vet, I can honestly tell you that I cannot imagine how all of these families get through this. I am hoping that the pride in their soldier helps. I am hoping that knowing that the lost love was doing what he/she believed in and loved, is enough. I am also hoping that everyone around them supports and strengthens them when they cannot go it alone.

I offer my deepest and most sincere condolences to every person who has buried a member of the armed forces. My heart aches for your loss and bursts with pride at the willingness and in fact, eagerness with which these young people give of themselves to protect us all and cloak us in freedom. It is nearly unfathomable to me to be in your shoes and I will not pretend to understand. I will only promise you that you and yours will be in my prayers always.

The ultimate sacrifice: giving your loved one back to God.

Dear Lord, I pray for strength, understanding and peace of heart for all who have given a loved one in battle or as an after effect of serving our nation. I pray for love to always be enough for the survivors of those who have been laid to rest in your tender care. Amen

Jo

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day 2014

Dear Momma,

Happy Mother's Day.

Today is your 69th Mother's Day and I hope it is one of your best. I know nothing compares to the very first one and I also know that when we were small we didn't show you the love we felt because most kids just don't really get it. Now, I get it.

Today is all about whatever makes you happy. The meal I cooked, some of your favorites. The family gathered because we don't do that often. Your three kids and their spouses for lunch and gifts and laughs.
We can always count on the laughs.

Thank you, Momma, for teaching us that life is to be lived and that there is humor all around. Thanks for showing us how to be independent thinkers and how to live a life as it comes rather than by design. Sometimes God doesn't follow the plan we made and His is the one we live. Thank you for teaching us to go with that. It makes for happier and healthier choices because somehow we know that life is never to be taken for granted. Just enjoyed and shared.

I love you as only your kid can and every day I remember how blessed I am that I was given to parents who didn't exactly plan to have three babies. This number three baby is very happy to have happened!

Jo
May 11, 2014


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Never Again


There are so many things I could say I would never do again, but there are even more thoughts I've allowed to run through my mind that I'd like to never again entertain. There are a few places I will never go again. The one thing I have to accept is that all the things I think I'd never experience again gave me something I am using in my life. I learned something from each. Or I should have.
So though I'd likely never again...I'm glad I did, sorta.
I went shopping one day and tried on a beautiful dress I thought I'd love to wear to one of our nieces wedding. It was royal blue and had a comfortable sleeve just above my elbow. The bodice was snug and the skirt flared from the waist to just below my knee. Lovely. Except when I looked in the mirror I saw something I apparently had been ignoring OR it just appeared at this moment. Old Lady Cleavage. You know. The wrinkles that flow from the turkey neck right on down to the cleavage without any smooth or sexy look at all. I had passed the sexy cleavage stage of my life and I had no idea. I will NEVER AGAIN buy a low cut anything, not because I am that vain, but because making other people gag is not my idea of fun.  *sigh* 

Not sure what I learned, but I am sure I accepted my aging as 
just another beautiful thing about being given a few more years
on this earth.

Jo