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It is the night before Thanksgiving, and I took my mom out to dinner, as I do at least once a week. Then we did a little Christmas shopping for her great grandchildren. She was off balance most of the night. She told me before we left for dinner, that she had fallen three times last week. Twice she had to call my brother to come pick her up off the floor, because her arms cannot support the weight of the rest of her body, in order to raise herself up. The other time she was struggling with a package that the mailman had pushed too tightly into the mailbox. As she fought with the package, it won, and she fell into the nearby street, on her bottom. (“Help I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up”) But God has angels everywhere it seems. A nice woman who lived nearby (that she did not know) appeared, and helped her up. It just so happens that this lady worked in a nursing home, and knew the proper way to lift my mom up, without getting hurt. (My widowed mom still lives in her own home by her wishes.)

My mom always tries to hide it from me when she falls. We once had an argument about this. She had relatives visiting her, and she fell, but no one told me. I even asked, when I saw a bruise on her arm, but she lied about it. When I did find out, it made me mad because I am her primary caregiver, and I need to know if she has taken a fall. But what can I do? She has a mind of her own, and says she doesn’t want to worry me. I think at times she would rather eat worms than use her walker. That is so frustrating to me, because if she takes a bad fall, she could be incapacitated for a long time. Life would then get even harder for her…and me. But the good thing is, I have learned that I am not in control of all this. I have to trust God, or I will go crazy with worry.

If you have lost a parent due to aging, then you know the pain of watching them slip away, little by little. My dad died a little over 2 years ago, after a triple bypass. He came through the surgery fine, but went through a horrible time from complications of pneumonia, staph, and serratia. It was a nightmare. He wasn’t supposed to die like that. So many people have a triple bypass, and it changes their life, for the better. But not my dad. (He’s actually my step-dad since I was seven years old.) At first, we didn’t get along, but the older I got, the more we loved each other. After I married and moved out, we became very close over the years, and his death was the saddest moment of my life so far. When I walked into his room, and stood with my family by the bed after he died, I literally wailed. I could not believe this man that could fix the world if it broke, could not fix this.  He was gone. He had retired to take care of my insulin dependent mom, who has so many health problems, and I did not know how I could make it without him. I hope I have made him proud by the way I have cared for her, and tried to be there for her. I will never stop missing him.

So now I have to watch my mom go through the ravages of aging. Thin skin that bruises at the slightest bump, always cold and needing a jacket, off balance continually, slowly losing her eyesight in one eye, and having a great deal of trouble remembering things. I try to cover over that part for her sake, because it embarrasses her when she can’t think properly. She was a very smart woman, who worked all of her life until retirement. The only friends she had were through her work, and she never really nurtured those friendships, so when she retired, she really had no one. So other than a little bit of family, I’m it for her. And my brother, of course, who comes for lunch every day that he works at a nearby Home Depot. He does her grocery shopping, because I have a torn rotator cuff (shoulder problem), but I do all the other errands-doctor’s appointments (between the two of us, we have a different doctor for every body part-lol), shopping, post office, pharmacy, etc. (We also do a fair amount of grocery shopping anyway.)

I was having trouble living one life, and now I’m living two. I will be there for her always, but I am overwhelmed at times with all there is to do. But I am more overwhelmed watching her go downhill. But that is something I cannot change, and I guess I have to accept it, and enjoy the time we have. She says continually that she doesn’t want to live to be much older, so I guess I have to remember that if anything happens.

(To read my article on “Old Age and Happiness” go here): http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/404850/old_age_and_happiness_attitude_is_everything.html

There have been at least two times that I thought she was dying, and stood by her hospital bedside, trying to prepare myself for her death, but somehow she pulled through to everyone’s surprise. Losing my dad has been terribly hard on her. They were married 44 years, and loved each other very much. 

It seems that I am always grumpy when I come home from our days together, because the stress of it all wears me down. Holding onto her so tightly everywhere we go, wondering if her blood sugar will go low again, watching over her every move, and just trying to listen to all the complaints that a woman in her condition has. The child has become the parent, and it is exhausting. It is just too much some days, and I think I bring it all home, and snarl at my husband at times, when I don’t mean to. If you have ever been a caregiver, then you understand what I mean. I am so patient and kind to my mom, but I often take out my frustrations on my husband. I wish I wouldn’t do that, and I am working on it. I love him very much.

Okay, that was my vent for tonight. This day is always an especially difficult one. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and we are going out to eat. I cooked last year, but just don’t feel like it this time. After dinner, we will go to a movie.

We will miss my dad. Our little gathering is dwindling. This year it will be me, my husband, our 18 year old daughter, my mother, and my brother and his son.

I have many happy memories of Thanksgivings past, and I hope that tomorrow will be nice as well. (I never know when it will be the last one for my mom.) But I guess there are no guarantees for any of us. The secret is to cherish the moments. They say that happiness does not occur in whole days, but in moments. It’s the moments that matter…

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