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Category Archives: caregiving

A sharp pain echoes through my heart

Before the tears begin to fall.

And in the darkness of my room

I cry.

For everything that’s ever hurt me-

And all the things that ever will,

Alone in the blackness-

I cry.

And the tears become sobs

And the sobs become screams

And the screams become prayers-

That I cry.

Are Your arms wide enough-

Is Your love strong enough-

To comfort this child

When I cry?

Let me hear Your gentle words

Let me feel Your presence here.

Let me know I’m not alone-

As I cry.

But You are strangely silent

And I feel no arms around me

As I call out Your name

And I cry.

I wail until my heart is empty-

Till crystal pain no longer flows.

And fall asleep among the teardrops-

That I cried.

Your angels sang a lullaby-

Your gift of tears- a sweet release,

And You were with me all the while

I cried.            

Lonnette Harrell

Last night I cried, because I thought about my mother, as I often do. I know she must be sinking farther and farther into dementia, and I can’t do anything about it. I love her and miss her, and I wish things had ended differently. (But I guess she made her choice also.) I wish I could comfort her, in that far-away place she now dwells. How can you be angry with someone who is now probably like a confused child?

I cry because I remember her fear of dementia, and her fear of having to live that way. I cry because I tried so hard to care for her and please her, and she called me hateful names (while she was still in her right mind.) I cry because I’ve always loved her, and I just wanted her to love me back.

I cry because I wish that I could soothe her fears, and I can’t. All of this is progressing so rapidly, and I could see it plainly awhile back. We were told that it would not get better. I knew that her care needs were more than I could handle anymore, and I was already 3 1/2 years into total exhaustion, and sick myself. There should be no shame in saying that I could not continue on as I was. I simply could not. I knew that I was going to die.  But my brother didn’t get it. Now maybe he will.

How frightening it must be, to be trapped in your very physically ill body, losing your mind. It seems like some kind of cruel nightmare, that has no ending. She was so afraid of becoming like the people we saw in the halls of the nursing home (where she was for 5 1/2 months of rehab.) I always reassured her, and tried to help her through her confusion, and prayed that it would pass. It really accelerated after her hip surgery. She was never really the same after that, and we were warned by the Ortho doctor that many elderly people are affected that way by the anesthesia.

And now I can’t get to her. She might as well be in a castle with a drawbridge and a moat, instead of a small house in a small town with my angry brother, and a caregiver. She’s isolated. She probably wouldn’t want to see me anyway.

And I could not go back without becoming totally involved in her care, and I am not physically able to do that anymore. I have been very sick lately, and I just can no longer take the stress of her care, or of her emotional treatment of me. 

That is why she was so much better off in the Assisted Living, where she could get socialization, food she loved, and medical assistance and supervision.  There was a Memory Care Unit there as well, if she needed it later on. But my brother was determined to bring her home, and now he is probably overwhelmed as well. (You cannot possibly know what it is like to care for all her needs until you’ve done it. I could not keep up anymore, and the stress of it all was killing me.) I needed help desperately.

I can only reach her through my prayers. I ask God to comfort her, and strengthen her. I ask Him to take care of her, as I no longer can. I ask Him to soften her heart towards me, and let her memories be of our happy times together (and there were quite a few, in spite of our problems.) I ask God to tell her I love her.

But when I can’t take the pain in my heart anymore, I cry…

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Wouldn’t it be great if we could just spend a week or two grieving for a loss, and then it would be done? No more sharp knives in the heart, no more waking up in the middle of the night, no more memories to constantly invade an otherwise routine day. But it seems like grief is the gift that keeps on giving. Attachments are made in this life, and love just naturally occurs. Severing that bond feels anything but natural.

My birth dad died several years ago, and his funeral was on New Years Eve. I had  never really cared for the holiday day before that, and I will never forget flying into our small town airport, having been through a tearful day of “good-byes”, as well as “hellos” to those I had not seen in a long time.  I knew that all I had hoped for in my relationship with my dad, would now never come to pass. We had known each other only on the surface, but had both longed for so much more. Distance and busy lives separated us, and sad to say, we let it. (You always think you’ll have more time.)

Not long after his death (about 5 months) my stepfather died. He had been in my life since I was age 7. Our relationship had been stormy initially, but developed into one of  the greatest miracles of my life. After I was married, and through the future years, we grew closer. He wasn’t one to have long heart to heart talks, but he often said “I love you” for no reason at all (other than the fact that he did.) The day that we found out that he needed triple bypass surgery, instead of being able to correct the problem with a stent, I cried in my car like he was already gone. My husband couldn’t understand why I  took it so hard that he would need the heart surgery, but there was a “knowing” in my spirit. I didn’t feel good about it, and I couldn’t stop crying. (Of course, I didn’t cry in front of him.) He came through the triple bypass fine, but succumbed to hospital acquired infections including pneumonia, staph, and serratia. We watched him dying through many long weeks of gasping for breath on a respirator in the ICU and CCU, and it was like a daily nightmare. Seeing him like that was so painful and heartbreaking, and even though I desperately wanted to have faith for him to live, it was apparent that minus a miracle, he wasn’t going to make it. When he died, we spent some moments as a family in his hospital room, that was eerily silent. No machines whirring, no beeps, no gasping for breath. Just a strange, stark silence.

He looked so big lying there. He was 6’4″, and I couldn’t imagine life without him. When the doctor had told us that he didn’t think Sam would make it, my mother said, (as we walked down the hospital corridor) “What am I gonna do?”

What were any of us going to do? He had represented strength to us, and a knowledge of so many things. He knew the answer to almost every question we had, and as long as Sam was around, every problem had a solution.

But once he was gone, life was brutal for my mom and me. Every day brought new discoveries of things that Sam had taken care of, that now we had to struggle with. Things like dragging the huge trashcan to the curb, wrestling to get groceries in the house after a full day of errands, a myriad of  doctor’s  appointments for my mom, bills and paperwork, house maintenance, applying for home insurance when their former insurance company left town (and being turned down by the first one, because there were too many things wrong with the aging house.)

Sometimes it seemed like all we did was fight to keep our heads above water.  I cried from exhaustion when alone at times, but mostly I just gritted my teeth, and forced my body to function when it was way past its ability. No one will ever know the toll those days took on us. I tried to compensate for what my mom couldn’t do, struggled to make sure that all her medications were filled on time, and taken properly, and was continually concerned about her diabetes, and her unpredictable episodes of low blood sugar that often scared the life out of me, until I could bring her around. Days were spent worrying about her, and nights were spent tossing and turning, with a cell phone always on and by my bed, waiting to proclaim the next catastrophe. This went on for 3 1/2 long years, and I could tell that my physical health and emotional health were declining rapidly. It felt like I was drowning, and I was trying to keep her head above water, while mine was going under for the third time. (I had lost both of my dads in the span of  5 months, and really had no chance to grieve, because there was always another crisis to get through. But no one seemed to see or care what I was dealing with. It was enough to break anyone, and there is no shame in that.)

I cried out to people around me, though honestly our family had gotten so small, there was really no one to cry out to. No one that could physically make a difference, except my brother. His total contribution had been to buy the groceries and eat them, on his lunch break every day. I never felt like I could ask him to do more, or that he would be willing to. My uncle, who lived in Atlanta, was a good sounding board, and seemed to “get” how terribly difficult this was becoming for me. He never made me feel guilty for feeling like I was about to collapse, and even though he is my mom’s brother, he advised me to do what I had to do to get out of the situation, if necessary, to protect my health.

My cousin Jack (who was more like a brother, as we had been raised together until I was 7) also wrote me one letter saying that I could only do what I was able to do. But several times after that, I talked with him, and he seemed to be reluctant to even have an opinion. When things got so bad, before my estrangement with my mom, I wrote him an email and left a couple of messages (reaching out once again), but I never got a reply. (This hurt, as we had been fairly close because of our childhood together.) To this day, I’ve never heard from him.  I changed my phone numbers so my “family” couldn’t torment me anymore, but he has always had my email address, if he wanted to reach me. He was in town for Christmas, but I was gone.  However, I doubt that he will ever contact me again. His loyalties are with my mom and brother.  It seems like this whole situation is fraught with collateral damage that couldn’t be avoided.

And I guess that is what I want to address in this post. Bereavement can cause such stress and strife in families, and the loss of my stepfather is what ultimately led to the estrangement between my mom and me. The stress of her care all falling on me, the responsibility for her happiness and well-being, the pressure to try and do the things that he had done for her, while still having to manage my own family and life, along with my mom’s increasing physical and mental problems, was just too much for our relationship.

There was some troubling history there already, though I had tried to ignore it for so long. But the more overwhelmed and tired I became (with almost no help, and the increase daily in serious problems–a broken right foot, a broken left leg, a broken right hip, and increasing dementia) then the more stressful the whole thing became. She became more and more belligerent  and rebellious. She refused to use her walker consistently, and kept falling over and over again, until I was at my wit’s end.  Now it was horribly affecting my health and well-being also. I spent half my life, it seemed, in the emergency room. Then she called me horrible names after all that I had done for her, and that was the last straw for me. As soon as I got her settled in a wonderful assisted living, my brother took her out against all medical advice, with his eye on inheriting the house. (If she had stayed in assisted living, her house would have needed to be sold, to finance her living arrangements, and he was adamantly against that. I just wanted her properly taken care of and supervised.) So I have not seen either of  them since before Thanksgiving 2008.

As you can see, there is a fallout from death. If you have not experienced it, consider yourself fortunate. It changes the family dynamic–it brings out greed in some people, and causes others to have to bear tremendous burdens alone. Many marriages are strained because of the resulting changes, and people’s lives are in the balance. Everyone can understand the pressures when a widow or widower is left to raise a child (or children) alone, but few people understand the effect that a very sick, obstinate, demanding, angry (and often just plain mean) elder, with increasing dementia can have on a primary caregiver.  For me, the problems were overwhelming, as I predict they will also eventually be for my brother, though he has help during the day (thank the Lord) when he works. I suspect that he does not have to attend every doctor appointment as I did. I had no help at all. 

Sadly, I found myself driving by the house tonight, under the cover of darkness, hoping to get a glimpse of my mother. But all I could see through the open door was my brother, standing at the sink.  I am grieving, because I will likely never see my mother again. I cared for her (and loved her) with everything in me, and tried so hard to keep her alive for the past 3 1/2 years. At times I thought maybe I would die before she did. (I take 9 medications, have diabetes and high blood pressure, and many other chronic medical problems.) Many days are a struggle for me to get through.  I gave up all my friends and social contacts, and really had little time for my daughter and husband. (Even less for myself.)

Many just do not realize how the loss of a family member changes SO much, and not just for the spouse, but for others also. And especially for those left to care for an aging, ailing parent (or small children) alone. I felt overwhelmed every day of my life.

I wish I could say that I felt numb now, or that I never think  of her or miss her. But I can’t.  She is usually the first thing on my mind every morning when I wake up, but then I remember her hateful words, and the despicable comments from my brother. That is when I pray for God to take this pain from my heart, and to help me to forgive.  I still love my mother, but I don’t feel anything for my brother.  I think indifference is much worse than hatred. At least there’s some passion and feeling in hatred.

Forgiveness is just like grieving, I guess. It doesn’t happen all at once. It’s a process. Wounds take time to heal, and anyone who says differently has never suffered heartbreak at the hands of  others. But if God says that forgiveness is possible, then I will trust that He is right.

So I guess I just needed to get that out tonight. All in all, my life is a lot better now, though my physical health is still a problem.  I still suffer from a sleep disorder. My heart will probably ache for the rest of my life over how this turned out, but God can also heal broken hearts. There is a limit to what a person can endure, and my death would not have enhanced my mom’s remaining time here on earth. 

I know that my brother is getting a dose of reality, though she will never likely emotionally abuse him, as she did me (all my life.) When you feel loved unconditionally (as he is by my mom) things are certainly easier to tolerate. But she never loved me like that, no matter how hard I tried to please her,  and I’ll never understand why.

This song is for those who have lost someone that you loved, through death or otherwise…

There is so much that I am not at liberty to say, until the family has discussed it, and made decisions, but I can tell you that the overwhelming sadness of this situation has almost killed me. The pain in my heart is never-ending, as is the sorrow in my soul.

This seems almost worse than death. I know you can’t understand that, unless you have walked in my shoes. But my mom doesn’t take things easily–she is a fighter, and lately she sees everyone as the enemy. She hates the nursing home, she gets angry with the staff, and she is very, very frustrated.

Honestly, I feel that all in all, the staff has been amazingly caring and compassionate with her. This was something that surprised me greatly, because I had heard the horror stories that we all hear abount nursing facilities. Of course, there are some that are not our favorites, but most are kind, compassionate, and competent. Most likely, she would not have received as much quality care in another place. But you could never convince her of this. She is angry, and has told me that she sees all of them as “the enemy.” I wonder if I will also fall into that category as days go by. I hope not. I have been there for her steadily. (At least every other day, and often every day.) My house, my health, and my relationships have all taken a beating because of it. But I have to be there for her, and I want to.

I have cried a river lately, over some of the news that I have received about her, and some days life just seems too difficult to bear. I have been nauseated, sleepless, and grief stricken. I am barely functioning. Tonight I stayed home and cleaned my kirchen. (Just my kitchen.) I can’t seem to focus on anything, or get anything done. I guess it’s depression because I can’t fix this situation, and I can’t change it for her. I am sure that she will think I can, and somehow hold me responsible for the outcome. But it is out of my hands. I will elaborate on this further in another post.

I am 55, and feel 75, at least. There is so much stress in my life, and so little fun. I am having trouble believing anymore that tomorrow will be better. (Maybe I’m getting angry also.) But who do I get angry at? Fate? Life? God? The Devil? I do understand my mom’s anger, and I feel it also.

I am truly worried about my health. I am having chest pains, and the uncertainty of all this, means that there is very little resolution to the problems ever. It’s all up in the air, and we’re walking on eggshells with her. She is confused and demanding, but we don’t have control over this. When we try to explain anything to her lately, she cannot retain it for long. (That part is so very sad.)

I took her on a picnic yesterday, and she said, “Excuse me. I’ll be back in a moment.” She started to get up out of her wheelchair to go to the bathroom, because she thought she could. (She is not allowed to walk any distance to speak of right now, unless she is in therapy, and using her walker, with close supervision.) She simply did not comprehend that she couldn’t get up and walk to the bathroom. This is what makes her current situation so very dangerous. Sometimes she is stubborn about what she wants to do, but many times now it isn’t defiance–it’s a lack of comprehension.  She simply does not understand, or retain the instructions.  She totally forgets what she can or can’t do. There are mental and physical problems. The mental issues are clouding everything now, and I will elaborate on some of those later.

For now, I am not ever at peace. I don’t know how to deal with this, and no one around me seems to know either. We are meeting with social workers, therapists, directors, etc., trying to figure out what to do now.

Tony will need to be informed about her current physical and mental status, as I don’t think he has observed as much as I have lately, (because I have been called in on every crisis), or Betty has told me about them. (It seems like there is a crisis at least every other day now.)

I thought that raising Chelsea, with her stubborness and strong will, was the toughest thing that I have ever done, but this is tougher. To watch your mother decline in every way, day by day, is too much to bear. At least it is for me. I have fought so hard to keep her well and happy since my dad died, and to observe this constant deterioration is devastating. I am too close to it all–too close to her. I can’t seem to accept it, and part of that is because she can’t accept any of it. She makes it all even more difficult, because she fights and rages against everyone so hard. She wants to have her way, and she doesn’t want to be told what to do. (We all get frustrated with that, don’t we?)

When you are younger, you never think that there will be a day that you have to face this kind of pain. It may be part of life, but it is so tough to accept. When you feel so utterly helpless and often hopeless, it is a long journey…

Please read other articles that I have written here:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

“Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone.” Lin Yutang

Have you ever noticed that you can never get everything done? I mean there’s always one more towel to fold, one more dish to wash, one more shirt to hang up, or one more piece of furniture to dust. And the truth is, there always will be.

The thing about housework is that it has to be repeated. It’s never actually finished. We’ll always have bathrooms to clean, and beds to make. Such is life. We all go through times when we’re organized…and times when we’re not. But sometimes we have to just shrug our shoulders and say, “You know what? It will all be here tomorrow. Today I’m taking the kids to the park, or going to lunch with my husband, or I’m going shopping.”

Yes, there is an art to leaving things undone. Babies will not stay babies forever, and later we will wish for one more hug, or one more day in the park, or one more bedtime story. Husbands have a way of heading toward heaven sometimes sooner than wives, and what widow would not give all that she had to spend one more day with the love of her life? Yes, the unmade beds can wait, and the bathtubs and toilets too!

So this past week (from Wednesday through Sunday) I have practiced the “noble art of leaving things undone.” My husband and I have been taking a stay home vacation. It only requires him (a busy lawyer) to be out of the office for three business days. (And I have even allowed him about 2 hours a day to sign papers or make phone calls.) Have I been tempted to spend precious time vacuuming or dusting? NO!!! And these have been wonderful days!

Since we live in a tourist town, we decided to act like tourists-(sort of.) The first day we went out to breakfast, and casually read the paper over coffee. We went to a thrift store (one of my favorite activities), and then we went home to sit in our comfy chairs, and watch a movie. Then I started supper, and headed down to the flea market, where I have a Victorian collectibles booth to play in, while he went to the office for a couple of hours. We met back at the house, ate, watched a little tv, and back to our cozy chairs to read for a couple of hours.

The next day we took a day trip to a nearby beach town, (stopping on the way at…you guessed it…a gigantic thrift store! LOL!) Then we had lunch at a home cooking cafe, and I shopped at 3 antique stores, while he headed over to talk with some of the people that work with him on adoptions in this area. (You know men-they aren’t much for shopping.) We enjoyed the scenery on the way home, and then we hit those wonderful chairs again for a little reading time. (We just purchased them a few months ago.)

The next day we had to go over to the nursing home for a “care plan” meeting for my mom, who has been there temporarily for therapy, since breaking her right foot and left leg. When she gets to go home depends on the doctor’s report next Thursday. We’ll know lots more then. But all in all it was a good meeting. She has settled down a good bit, and has worked very hard during her physical therapy sessions.

From there, we had lunch in a home cooking cafe in our town (also a beach town), and then home to our chairs for a couple of hours. We split up again for awhile, and met back at the house for an easy supper of grilled cheese sandwiches and soup.

Today, I finally got to sleep in (yay!) and we went to our favorite restaurant in Baytowne Wharf. It’s called the Marlin Grill. But they have the best steaks on earth! I kid you not! If you are ever in Destin, Florida-check them out. You will NOT be disappointed.

(I was disappointed, however, to find that my favorite Tea Shop (Magnolia and Ivy) had gone out of business. So sad. It had great gifts and tea accessories. But we walked over to the waterfront, and sat for a few minutes, and then headed to Ross-(my second favorite store to T.J. Maxx).

Tomorrow is Sunday, and we plan to rest and wind down. This is the first year in a long time that we didn’t go the North Carolina Mountains (my second favorite place on earth.) But we have had so many crises in the family, that we were just too worn out to make the trip this time. So we opted for two vacations like this. One this month, and one in August.

I can’t wait till the next one! There is a certain amount of stress that goes with traveling-packing, flying or driving, not sleeping well, etc. And I guess we eliminated all that with our staycation (as my teenage daughter calls it.) We managed to combine venturing out, with actually resting, and it has been delightful! It seemed much longer than it actually was. (Also I spent 5 days away in my favorite nearby (nothing fancy) motel the week before, so I was already in a vacation frame of mind. I have never needed a vacation more!

Being the primary caregiver for my elderly, widowed mom is a full time job, and we have had our share of medical crises lately. I desperately needed a break. I can see now how important it is for a caregiver to get away from time to time. It is not a luxury…it is a necessity. The burn out level is high, and everyone needs a chance to escape now and then.

So I have practiced the “noble art of leaving things undone” for the past few days, and I’m loving it. It will all be there waiting for me on Monday…

Yesterday was a very sad day for me. It started in the afternoon, when I was supposed to meet my mom at 1:30, to take her to a town about an hour and a half away, for a glaucoma specialist’s appointment. When I got there, she was very frustrated and upset,  because she couldn’t get her medication list finished. The computer was acting crazy, she was late putting her clothes on, and she seemed on the verge of tears. (My mom does not cry easily or often.)

I tried to soothe her, and get her in the car, because she needed me to take her by the bank on the way. She was a bundle of nerves, and when she gets like that, I have to fight very hard to keep everything together. I kept reassuring her that we would make it on time, and headed for the bank.

But when we got to the bank, she realized that she had forgotten her glasses. She is almost blind in one eye, due to diabetic complications, and since we were going to an eye doctor, we both realized that we must go back and get the glasses. She agreed to wait in the car, while I made the search inside. I found them on her dresser in the bedroom, and started out to the car, when suddenly she appeared in the house. She said that she wanted to get a bracelet she had just purchased, and we picked up a couple of oatmeal cookies from the kitchen, to keep her blood sugar from going low on the way.

Rushing to get in the car, I knew we were going to be a little late now, but again, I reassured her that we would just call on my cell phone when we got close, and let them know. She was a nervous wreck all the way, looking at her bracelet constantly, which was in the place her watch usually was. (But she had forgotten her watch.) My mom always does this-constantly looking at her watch, as if looking enough times will cause us not to be late, or perhaps it is a passive- aggressive way of letting me know that I was not on time (which lately seems to be a pattern with me, though this day I was on schedule, but she was not.)

Just a few miles down the road, she started to cry. She said she felt like she was losing it, and that her mind had been adversely affected lately. We had recently talked to the doctor about the confusion that has set in. (She took Aricept for awhile, but the side effects were horrible, and she had to quit. She was given another drug for memory problems, but has not yet started taking it.) She is very aware that her mind is not functioning as it once did, and this causes her great sorrow. She is very afraid of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

So here I am, driving as fast as I can get away with, and now she is crying. I reached over and patted her neck and head, and told her that I understood her frustration, and knew that she didn’t feel well, and tried to reassure her again that everything would be okay. (I was not at all convinced myself that it would be, but I said it anyway.) Then she told me that she feels like she is going to fall down every time she stands up, and I asked her to please use her walker, but she won’t-except to go to the mailbox. (She insists on going to the mailbox-it is the highlight of her day.)  I understand how important the mail is to her. But I just don’t get that she won’t use her walker in the house, because if she falls and hurts herself, her life will change forever, and so will mine. But she is quite stubborn.

I told her that if she continues to be dizzy, we need to go back to the doctor, and have her checked again, but he already knows that she is off balance, and blames it to some degree, on her blood pressure falling when she stands, but I know that it is more than that.

So as we are barrelling toward the doctor’s office, and she is trying to scratch down her list of the remaining medications that she was not able to write down earlier, because the computer went insane. She spills a couple of the bottles into the floorboard, as we gobble down our oatmeal cookies.

It was a tense and harrowing ride to our destination. Traffic was bad, and we were racing the clock.

We called to let them know we would be a little late, and when we arrived, I let her out at a bench near the entrance, while I parked the car. I ran all the way back from the car, afraid to leave her alone for very long, and also painfully aware of the time.

It seems that I am always breathless since my dad died, and I have taken over the care of my mom. I am always running, or dashing about, or lifting things that I shouldn’t be lifting.

I won’t bore you with the details of the visit, but she was happy that this doctor felt that possibly next year, he might be able to remove a cataract. Another doctor had told us that the improvement would be so slight, as to not be worth the risk. (So at least that brightened her day a bit.)

We ate at a cafeteria, with a man carrying her tray, as I carried mine. (This left her to do her usual acrobatic wobble all the way to the table, with my heart skipping beats as I watched.) I always hold her hand everywhere we go, as she is very off balance, and can’t see well.

We went to one store, and then as when we drove back to our town, she said that she needed a few groceries, and so we did grocery shopping at the lovely hour of 10 p.m. (My mom can no longer drive due to her condition. This also was a very tragic loss of independence for her.)

Whenever I help her with groceries, I put all of her groceries on the conveyor belt, and usually back into the basket after they are bagged, unless the clerk does. Then I have to help her with her credit card, as she gets confused, as to how to run it through the machine properly. (But then don’t we all at times? They’re all slightly different.)

 I do the same for my groceries, and then I get her into the car, and I stand in the cold or the downpour, to load all of our groceries into the trunk. (Bear with me here.)

When  we get home, we always fumble for the door keys, because the sensor light almost never comes on, and I  finally get her safely in. Then I unload all her groceries. One trick she thought of, because I have a torn rotator cuff, is for me to use her walker (which has a seat and a basket) to wheel the things to the front door. We call it “The Cadillac” and it helps me tremendously. (At least it is used for something.) Then we struggle to get the bags into the door, and then to the kitchen. (I usually hand her all the refrigerator items to put where she wants, and then I put away her cupboard things.)

Now you can only imagine how tired I am at the end of these type days, and I still have to drive home, and unload my own groceries. (I just wanted to give you a feel for the way life is for us.) I take her to all her doctor’s appointments, and errands, and I do believe that we have a different doctor for each body part.

She wants to continue to live in her house independently, for as long as possible, and I agree totally, but it is heart wrenching for me to leave her each time, knowing the shape she is in. She recently fell 3 times in one week. She is also an insulin dependent diabetic, and goes low unexpectedly at times. Between my brother and I, we have managed to save her every time so far. Of course, I stay worried.

When I got home, my husband brought the groceries in. He had to stay up later than he wanted, to wait for me to get home. I had called earlier and requested his help, because I was too tired to lug the groceries upstairs to our kitchen. (Yes, an upstairs kitchen.)

I ran straight for the shower, as if I thought I could wash all the sadness and fatigue off, and have it go down the drain with the dirty water, but it didn’t.

When I walked into the kitchen, I began to cry, and (this time) he responded in a way that helped. He just put his arms around me and let me cry. (Perhaps I’ve finally taught him well.) 🙂 I didn’t cry for long, but it helped. I cried for all that I have to go through physically and emotionally since my dad passed. I cried for the person my mother would never again be. I cried because I was afraid of what could happen to her. I cried because I might lose her. I cried because she might live longer than she wants to, and be in pain or blind or crippled.  I cried for how much worse things could get with her. I cried for everything I could think of for about 2 minutes, and then I stopped.

They say (whoever they are), that God doesn’t give you more than you can handle, and if that’s true, I sure wish He didn’t trust me so much. (A friend on the Grief Board first said this a few days ago, and I liked it.)

(If you would like to read about some of the ways I am coping with the care of my widowed mom, here are some articles:) http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/372772/caring_for_an_aging_parent_when_the.html

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/422813/what_widows_need_to_know_how_to_prepare.html

The struggle of living two lives has me totally overwhelmed. I am by nature, an organized person, but at this point my house is a wreck, I’m behind on everything, and I may not even put up a Christmas tree this year. I will decorate the house in other ways, and with a couple of very small trees, but I have to do the family dinner and Christmas party, and it will take me almost until Christmas, to get the house in order, plan the dinner, buy the groceries, wrap the presents, etc.  I don’t have a lot of full days at home, so I have to do a little at a time. (And I have not been well myself for awhile.) When my house is not in order, my brain is not in order either. I hate clutter. But I think the way it is now, is a symptom of the way my life is. (Upside down, and inside out.)

I long for the days when my dad was alive.  He took wonderful care of my mom, as he was so much healthier than her. Why did he have to die? So many men have a triple bypass, and feel like a new person. Sometimes I hate the hospital for all that happened to him there, but of course it does me no good. I can’t bring him back, and I can’t change what happened.

So this is my life now. Endless days of chaos and exhaustion. Recently, I think that I had my first panic attack. I suddenly had the thought that if my mom died, I would be an orphan, and I convinced myself that I would have no one left. It isn’t true, but it felt like it at the time. I do have a brother, though we’re not particularly close, and I have a daughter, (but things have been difficult with her, to say the least), and I have my husband.  That’s about it, except for a male cousin that I was raised with as a child, until I was 7. I realized on my birthday this year, that other than my mom, and husband, (and a sweet cyber greeting from my teenage daughter), no one else remembered or cared. It’s a lonely feeling. My birth father died just before my step dad. He used to faithfully send me a card, and a present or some money. My parents got a divorce when I was 2, and I never got to really know my dad, the way I wanted to.

Okay, I doubt anyone is still with me. I really wrote this one for myself. I had to get some of the feelings out, because they were suffocating me. Thank God for my writing, because without it, I would feel so alone. I really have no one who understands what this has been (and is) like. Just God and me.

My mom and I have become closer though. We haven’t always had a great relationship, but now we are bonded more than ever, by our shared experiences. I love her very much.  Except that now, I am the parent and she is the child, and I long for the days when it wasn’t this way. I just wish I could find some peace…

Being lonely is not the same as being alone. Being alone is something I have always enjoyed. A time to reflect, to get in touch with my feelings, to do things that I like to do, and a chance to be me. I am energized by my time alone. I think deeply about things, and I detest the superficial. I’ve never really fit in with most women, because I don’t like to talk small talk. I like to talk about the things in life that really count. Of course, that would be different things to different people, I guess.

And yet, I have often been lonely in the company of others. It is not the presence of bodies that chases loneliness, but the presence of understanding. Just finding even one person who “gets” what you’re feeling is a true blessing. Some never find that in a lifetime of relationships.

In many ways, I feel that perhaps I am too sensitive for this world. I feel things much too deeply, and I ache inside, when I can’t understand how people can be so cruel to each other. 

I feel like there are many thoughts, talents, longings, and desires untapped within me. But time is moving on, and I have yet to fulfil many of them. One that I am beginning to enjoy is my writing. From the time I was a little girl, I have loved to put words on paper. I enjoy writing poems and articles, and also Bible teachings. I am most satisfied when I am writing, and then teaching or discussing the things I have researched. There is so much to learn, and sometimes I lose sleep rather than stop my research. I want to know so many things.

Since my dad died a little over 2 years ago, I have been taking care of my elderly, ailing mom. She has become my life’s focus. At times I am honored to be there for her, and at other times I am overwhelmed by the responsibility of it all. She still lives independently, but is an insulin dependent diabetic, who goes low unexpectedly, and has many other health problems. At first, I thought it was my responsibility to keep her alive, and I could not rest at night for worrying so much. But I finally realized that only God can keep her alive. And I can be God’s helper, but I can’t be God. It’s a truth that I learned in my counseling sessions, and one that has set me free, to an extent.

I am at an age where I am trying desperately to find myself. In fact, it’s my 55th birthday today (actually yesterday now, November 19th), and I pray the beginning of a happier phase of life.

I will share a little more of my life as time goes on. It has been very difficult in many ways. But I believe that it is up to me to make my life better. None of us know how long we have on this earth, and we are not promised tomorrow. It is a revelation that is often learned through the unexpected loss of someone dear.

So I will start today with a new outlook. I will learn from the past, and hopefully, not repeat its mistakes. I will be thankful for who I am, where I live, and who I love. And I will try to find my place in this world.