Don’t Discount Childhood Baggage-Pack Carefully Thursday, Feb 1 2018 

Back in the days when the Hubs and I were assisting his Mother, I discounted the impact of having spent one’s childhood with the person you are assisting being your ‘authority figure’. While everyone has different types of childhoods, rarely does a child come through their childhood without some emotional baggage that carries over into their playing adult. The Hubs didn’t have much childhood baggage with his Mother (another story with his father, for another time), so we didn’t bump up against many historical emotional issues between him and his Mother while caring for her.   Since she was not my Mother, I carried even less emotional baggage into the situation, as my relationship issues with her started after I was an adult. (Let’s not pretend that all humans have perfect relationships with their parents or mother in law, shall we?) Don’t misunderstand, there was plenty of emotion, but it wasn’t tied to the four year old that resides within us.   You know that child. It’s the flare of anger or other emotion you feel at a basic level when triggered and your adult responses just aren’t available to that inner child.

My relationship with my Mom growing up was rockier than the Hubs with his Mother. While Mom had the best intentions of not allowing her upbringing to impact how she raised me and my brothers, it crept in. I was an only child for 5 years, so I got the brunt of the learning curve.   Before her illness was firmly in place, Mom often referred to me as her practice child and the joke was she improved her parenting skills with my younger brothers. The result of this situation, as my youngest brother and I have discussed, is that I was raised with a different set of the same parents than my brothers were.   And this created for me some emotional baggage that I carry around with me. Like a little emotional suitcase.

This suitcase is not in the forefront of my life and many of the things that I unpacked and allowed myself to react to as a younger person no longer have impact. I was able to let them go.   At times, I even thought I had lost the suitcase. I was wrong. I am finding out, as my Mom progresses down the dementia path and Dad becomes more physically and mentally disabled, that remnants of that childhood suitcase, now pretty tattered, remain deep within me. I feel its weight these days, as I am opening it more often than I should when dealing with my parents. Funny how that happens.

My parents are in their 80’s, live in their home and are basically home bound. It takes a creative balance and effort to keep their household running, their appointments kept, and their medications on schedule. Although I am the primary handler, and the first on the call list, I’ve started enlisting the help of my brothers and the Hubs. I cannot physically do all that is needed to assist my parents. I work a full time job, and live the farthest away from my parents. I’ve also discovered, that emotionally, I cannot always deal with them, as their actions or needs open my suitcase.   The Hubs has stated I am showing increased signs stress which probably adds new levels of packing in my emotional suitcase.

I wonder what baggage my kids carry around, and if they will unpack it when I need help in my old age. I wonder if I will ever be able to discard the suitcase I am shifting back and forth in my grip as I walk this path. I wonder why, when I created this suitcase, I didn’t put rollers on it, so it would be effortlessly dragged behind me or shoved aside.

I wonder what tomorrow holds.

The Google, The Mouse and It’s Not Her Fault Friday, Aug 21 2015 

I’m sure there are plenty of you that are dealing with an aging parent with dementia issues. If you’ve read any of my blog you know I’ve been down this path before, and that I understand exactly how this process works. But I’ve recently been slapped with a reminder that I might need to take a refresher course, or possibly adjust my expectations. I may need to dust off my mantra and restart saying a phrase I used to say all the time with my mother in law that helped me keep my balance when she was off. It’s not her fault.

This most recent awake up call occurred last week when my Mom called me to tell me her computer, a gadget she used to be very proficient using, just had ‘the Goggle’ on it. First of all, ‘the Google’ is not something she would have uttered a few years ago. She knew it was Google. Second, she would have known that if her PC was reaching Google, it was reaching the internet. I spent quite some time over the phone trying to figure out exactly what her screen was displaying, and how to get her to be able to open her email. I pictured the white Google search engine page, even went to my PC, pulled it up and started to direct her to her email link. Then she started telling me what she was seeing on her page, and none of it made any sense. I explained that if she had Google availability, she could get to her email, since ‘Gmail’ was Google mail. I asked questions. In the upper right hand corner of your screen do you see…? Read to me what your screen says. Etc. etc. Many answers were provided with a timid no, and I wasn’t able to tell if the items I was asking her to look for were really not there or she just didn’t understand. In her frustration she finally said all she wanted was to get to her email. I restated since she had access to Google, she had access to her Gmail account. After some time, we worked through the issues presented, and she was able to access her email. She was relieved and I was exhausted.

The situation was unsettling for me because I know how she used to be able to move around on her PC. But, being somewhat in denial, I packed the episode away and let it be. It wasn’t her fault.

Yesterday Mom called and talked about many random things. In the course of the conversation she mentioned that she’d had a computer person out to the house because she thought she had a computer virus. He’d told her she did have a virus and it was because she had been using her mouse backwards. Now this really didn’t make any sense. First of all, that’s just BS, because a right click just brings up a menu. Second, ever since Mom has used a PC, her mouse has been programmed backwards due to her wrist issues. Her right side is double click (main operation like the rest of us) and the left side is one click to menu. She uses her ring finger and pinky to operate the mouse and has for the last 20 years. But when the repair guy tells her mouse is backwards, she doesn’t recall this and lets him change it to normal mode. When I tell her mouse has been configured like this for a reason, at her request because of her wrist, she states she doesn’t recall this, but it makes sense because she’s been trying to use it the way he said and her wrist hurts.

I am used to her forgetting recent things, but the mouse issue is not a recent thing and it was a big deal, something she really was focused on. My full blown awake up call has arrived. We’ve moved into another level and I need to get a grip on where we are now. I need to dust off my coping skills, practice my balancing act, repeat my mantra “It’s not her fault”, and stow my frustration.

Because truly, it’s not her fault.

Dementia, It’s Here Tuesday, Dec 23 2014 

I knew this time in my life would come, but always held out hope it would not. I think I am really an optimist hiding behind the ‘glass is the wrong size’ philosophy. It is never half full or half empty, but something is sure going on with the darn glass. I am stuck between my feelings of obligation and my ‘why me’ selfishness. I want to do the right thing, but cannot decide exactly what that right thing is.

I’ve been down this path before. The ‘take care of an elderly parent’ path. If anyone ever read my earlier blog entries, I wrote about it. How my Hubs and I spent 12 years assisting my mother in law through the various stages of Alzheimer’s decline, how that impacted us, our immediate family, and how we recovered. Yes, recovered. Because we didn’t assist from a distance with our lives continuing on without interruption. Our lives were completely disrupted and we were not able to continue normal daily functions of family life as so many other did at the time. Because for them it was someone else’s problem to take on and handle. (This is the ‘don’t get me started’ part of the post.)

Which is why now that my Mother, at the age of 77, has been diagnosed with dementia, and is showing definite memory loss, I find myself once again heading down the assistance path. And feeling some conflict, obligation and selfishness.

This time is different for a few reasons. The first item is that both my parents are involved. With my mother in law, it was just her and there was no balancing act between two people to consider. As strange as that might sound to someone not dealing with this type of issue, it really makes a difference to be able to make decisions without having to consider another elderly patient. What was best for her as her dementia worsened was all there was to consider. The second item is that I carry childhood baggage into the mix. I am ‘the child’ regardless of my physical age, and some of the old hurts and feelings bubble to the surface as we start to navigate the changes mental and physical disease is placing on both of them. As an example, Mom’s new blank look (when she doesn’t understand something or is trying to process something, which now takes longer) is very, very similar to the look of disapproval she graced on me when I was a child and I have found myself feeling extremely six/eight/eleven on more than one occasion.

Another element to the situation is the new, or should I say different level of interaction with my two siblings. I do not plan on doing all that is and will be needed to be done on my own. I, as the oldest and only girl, have typically been the one is charge of parent issues in the past. And there have been some. But this is a long term, multi level problem and more than a little bit of assistance is required.

So bottom line is that Mom and Dad understand they need assistance. However, their idea of assistance and their level of cooperation versus what their offspring think is required, are not lining up. And that’s where things are right now.

We all lead busy lives, including working full time and wonder how providing the required and appropriate level of assistance is going to impact us.  As I stated earlier, I am stuck between obligated and selfish.

I am the Sandwich Friday, Oct 4 2013 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandwich_generation

The Sandwich generation is a generation of people who care for their aging parents while supporting their own children.

According to the Pew Research Center, just over 1 of every 8 Americans aged 40 to 60 is both raising a child and caring for a parent, in addition to between 7 to 10 million adults caring for their aging parents from a long distance. US Census Bureau statistics indicate that the number of older Americans aged 65 or older will double by the year 2030, to over 70 million.

Carol Abaya categorized the different scenarios involved in being a part of the sandwich generation.

  • Traditional: those sandwiched between aging parents who need care and/or help and their own children.
  • Club Sandwich: those in their 50s or 60s sandwiched between aging parents, adult children and grandchildren, or those in their 30s and 40s, with young children, aging parents and grandparents.
  • Open Faced: anyone else involved in elder care. [1]

Merriam-Webster officially added the term to its dictionary in July 2006.

The term “sandwich generation” was coined by Dorothy A Miller in 1981. [2]

~~~~~~~

My eldest son, mid 30’s and his son, 5, moved out of our home this last weekend.  They have been living with us for almost 2 years.  The joy of having that level of access to my grandson was tempered by being his parent much of the time, versus just being able to be his “Granny”.  My husband and I often had a differing opinions on how things involving our grown child and his child should be treated within our home, adding an additional level of stress to the situation.  But we made it though that phase of the sandwich, and looked forward to having our home and our time delegated back to ‘us’.  We joked about relearning how to have a two person conversation, how to cook a two person meal, about cooking meals we liked vs those the picky 5 yr old would eat, how we’d spent time ..just the two of us…..and so on.   It is a nice dream.  The financial side of the situation is ongoing, but that is another topic.

So, on day two of our ‘freedom’, when my parents called, upset and needing my help, I should not have been surprised.  We didn’t even get a week of ‘just us’ before other responsibilities pressed us back into service.  My parents are aging, not in the best of health, and are quick to call on me, rather than either of my brothers, when they want or need something.  There is a thin line between want and need.  I think they call me because 1) I am female and they are of that generation that believes that caregivers are female, 2) I am the oldest 3) I’ve been down this road before with  my mother in law and 4) I find a way to do what they want if I can.

My husband and I have been ‘the sandwich’ for so many years now, providing care for members of his family and mine, that I do not recall a time when we were not taking care of an aunt/parent/grandparent/sibling and a child at the same time.  It started in our 20’s and we are in our mid 50’s now.  We were the sandwich before there was a sandwich.  We’ve been able to regroup in the small gaps between, but each round it gets harder and harder to reconnect and adjust.   Since we only get one round on this planet, I’d like to assert, we’ve done our time caring for others and we need a break.  But reality is, that is not going to happen.  Buck up, Ms. Sandwich.  This one is a toasty footlong with extra cheese.

Chapter Thirty Two-Alzheimers Story-Last Chapter Saturday, Jul 9 2011 

But I Already Have My Lipstick On: Our story of dealing with Alzheimers

Chapter Thirty-Two

It is now the fall of 2008. The last event I’ve written about occurred 4 years ago. And it has been a long journey. We’ve been through emergency room visits and hospitalizations during which it was apparent the hospital care giver had no idea how to handle a dementia patient. (For the record, talking louder doesn’t help and the answers provided by the patient cannot be relied upon to make medical decisions.) We’ve been through various medications hoping for mental ability improvements only to again face disappointment. We’ve been through disagreements regarding maintaining all of Belle’s preventive medications for other medical issues and wondering why we should try to keep a body healthy for a mind that is no longer able to function. Although the subject had been discussion several times over the past 4 years, it wasn’t until about a year ago, after consultation with Belle’s doctor that we made the decision to stop all of her medications except her blood pressure control medication.

We’ve been through the questions and concerns of relatives that did not understand why we didn’t bring Belle to reunions or gatherings anymore. Their misunderstanding of Belle’s abilities and situation was painful to us. We would have loved for her to have been able to travel with us so she could visit with her family. It became easier for us not to attend than to explain her absence or spend the visit describing her declining situation.

We’ve been through holiday gatherings that included Belle and then suddenly, in 2007, the first Christmas that did not. In 2007, her caregivers told us it would really be too difficult on her to travel to our home for the holidays. It was a harsh reality check.

We’ve witnessed the drop off in cards and calls from friends and relatives regarding how Belle was doing, as she became more disconnected from their busy lives. Visiting Belle became difficult and as time passed, less and less people visited. Any change of any type to her routine and in some instances, a visit was a change, could be stressful for her. One of her favorite pass times, riding along with us in a car and seeing the sites became to difficult, frightening and confusing for her. However, one of her other favorite pastimes stayed with her. Scott installed a porch swing for Belle at the home, as she always loved to swing. So, on warm days, we’d sit with Belle in the back porch, and just swing. Belle always loved to swing.

Belle’s decline was inevitable and had peaks and valleys. For some time after moving to the personal care home Belle knew Scott, if not as her son, as least as someone she loved. Belle also recalled Susan for some time in this same manner. But as the end approached, Belle became a shell of her former self. Although Belle sometimes responded to her name, she no longer recalled anyone. She required assistance to eat, to walk and to do anything connected with self care or survival. Words became rare.

During the winter of 2007, just around Christmas time, we received word from Belle’s doctor that we should consider enrolling Belle in hospice care based on the decline she was displaying. She was not in immediate danger, but her decline was evident and steady. Scott spent time during the holidays speaking with each of his siblings regarding her hospice enrollment, all of which were at our house for Christmas again that year. During February 2008, Scott and I met with the hospice representative and completed her enrollment.

During the summer of 2008, Belle, who although she was still mobile, needed assistance to walk, stumbled while the caregiver was leading her through a doorway. The caregiver tried to catch her and they both went down to the tile floor. Belle’s landing was softened by landing on the caregiver, possibly saving her from broken bones or other more serious injuries. But Belle’s face hit the door jam as she fell, cutting her eyebrow, and severely bruising her check, chin and neck. Scott and Susan, in an effort to reduce the stress of the situation, took her for the injury assessment that required stitches, rather than having her transported by ambulance to the hospital. Belle’s recovery progressed from the bruising and fall remarkably well, but she continued to have TIA episodes and her abilities continued to reduce with each occurrence.

Scott continued regular visits with Belle on weekdays although we rarely visited on weekends or evenings as her decline became more evident. Evenings were difficult because she was normally asleep by the time we got off of work. Weekend visits were a catch 22 for Scott. He dreaded going but felt guilty if he didn’t go. The stress of this internal turmoil caused his gastro issues to resurface. His compromise was daytime visits. Scott stretched his lunch hour a couples of times each week and spent the time in the middle of the day feeding his mother her lunch. Then he returned to work and buried himself in a work project, no longer dwelling on his dread, guilt or grief. We kept moving ahead one day at a time.

When Belle passed away in October 2008, she was 85 years old. I thought I would feel relief at Belle’s passing, and at some level, I guess I did. I felt relief for her, that she was no longer trapped by a mind that no longer worked. I was not, however, prepared for the grief I felt. The Belle I met and known had been gone for many years, and I felt I had already grieved for her loss. But a different Belle had been a part of my life as well, and now that Belle was gone too. I was surprised to find I felt loss for both the Belles I had known. Scott felt fresh grief. He had lost his mother years before, and now that she had passed away, he felt he had lost her for a second time. He misses her in both ways.

Strangely enough, when Belle passed away, she lost the mean illness that had plagued her for so long. At her service, her illness not attend. She was at peace, with her sophisticated style in place, shining. Belle returned to being the wife, mother, sister, daughter, homemaker, activist and teacher.

Reference:

I kept a journal through some of the time frames I’ve included in our story and have included a few exerts here, mainly leading up to our decision to move Belle. The one comment that glares at me from the page could apply to any number of situations, but certainly applies to children trying to care for an Alzheimer’s patient at home. “The end of her life is destroying the middle of ours”. I do not intend to suggest that Belle could control any of the events occurred during this period of our lives, or that everyone will experience what we experienced when dealing with a parent that suffers from Alzheimer’s. But I am certain that in many cases, the emotions I’ve tried to convey while telling our story are similar for other caregivers. My intent is to support those dealing with an illness of a parent, and to let them know that those of us that have been though this completely understand.

June 2002

Things are heading down the path of every day. S seems to be able to handle issues with his mom pretty easily, and I guess I’m doing okay with her too. She manages to come up with new ways to be confused, and we mange to come up with new ways to handle it. I think mainly, we laugh. Not at her, and not when she can see us, although I’ve seen Scott laugh when he asks her about something that she did that was really off the wall, but we do laugh. I am proud of how we’ve done so far. And managed to do, the house and her without help from anyone else. Susan and her husband (don’t go there) have been a huge disappointment. S and I have talked about it and he is resigned to the fact that they are basically useless. He wishes it were different and wishes he could rely on them, but he knows it is not going to happen. Me? I am just mad at them for the immature way they do things and not caring if S crashes under the weight of it all. But, I really have to find a way to let that go.

June 2002

It is so sad to see someone deteriorate in mental capacity. And it must be hard to be that person. I’ve often wondered just how much she understands about what is happening to her. Glimpses of the person she used to be pop out from time to time, but I’d have to say that is occurring with less and less frequency than it use to. I think I have to believe she is not aware of how drastic the changes to her abilities really are. Because the idea that she knows how she is now is almost too much to get my mind around. I think about how difficult it would be if this was happening to me, and how I would feel if I knew it was. And I can say without a doubt that it is not good feeling. I think she used to know, and I know that she knows things are not like they used to be, but she is not aware (I think) of just how far they’ve gone. Sounds like I am talking in circles, but really, I am not.

July 2002

S has been over the edge with frustration and stress. Partly due to the construction, but mostly due to his mom. She often has bad days; days that she doesn’t function as well as what would be considered ‘normal’ for her. But recently a stretch of bad days has indicated to us that she is moving into a new less able stage. However, the up side of that, or however you want to look at it, is that numerous people, including her DR have commented on how much better her disposition is, that she is happier, and her confidence has improved. It appears to get better as her stay with us moves her further from the times with Susan. The down side of this new found confidence is that as her confidence grows, she tries to do things she cannot do safely anymore, which gives us more stress and worry trying to keep her from hurting herself or other things. The fact that she feels better even if she is not improving in her abilities proves that we made the right move by keeping her with us.

When this stuff with Belle was changing with Susan and her husband, they indicated they would remain involved, helping, even having her live with them part time. That has turned out not to be true. They have done nothing, and I mean not one thing with or for Belle since mid April, when they moved on. Not even a Mother’s Day card. I mean absolutely nothing. S and I were not sure whether we wanted them to be involved or not, and certainly Belle’s mind frame is better without them, so our concern was justified, but I cannot fathom not caring enough to even ask or visit, or get a damn card. Susan has always said she was selfish, and I knew she was, but this is even too much for me to believe.

September 2002

Things at home are plodding along. Belle’s abilities have definitely decreased over the last few months. And some of the things she does defy the rational mind.

September 2002

Scott places such high standards on issues regarding Belle that I/us/life tends is lost in the process. The end of her life is destroying the middle of ours. It seems important to say that she should have what she needs to be comfortable and be well taken care of. That is not the issue. The issue is, everything in our lives, and I mean everything, revolves around her and his perception of her needs. Making sure she is comfortable, happy, content, included, not rushed etc is more important than anything else even on the smallest of things. We’ve stopped doing anything as a couple. We are a threesome. Activity must be planned to fit her pace and she must be included in everything, even if she has no clue as to what the activity is. In some cases, even if she knows what the activity is and in her former self would have preferred not to be included, he insists we cannot go/do/whatever without her. Since she moved in, he has asked to have someone watch her for us twice. Once S asked Chuck and his wife to take her for a few hours so we could attend an anniversary party. The other item, S asked Susan to watch her for an evening while I was in San Diego, so he could go out with a friend. Deacon watched her one evening months ago, so S and I could go to a play. The rest is a threesome. So while I do not want to spend all my time at work, I do not want to go home either.

Had a long, long, confused conversation with Belle last week. She again stated she knows she is having ‘problems’ completing things and she just is not able to do what she used to. I asked her if she could give me an example. She said ‘chores’. She cannot seem to finish her ‘chores, you know like dusting’. Of course, I did not tell her she is having difficulty with a hell of a lot more than ‘chores’. I wish I was just worried about dusting. And, not that is needs to be said, but it is not her fault.

November 2002

Belle continues to deteriorate. Even though this is not unexpected, it is still hard to deal with. Her argumentativeness has increased, and she needs help with even the basic functions of self care. In the past, she would not listen to me but S could get her to do what was needed. Now she argues with him and flashes her eyes like a child when told to do something or be assisted with some task. Scott keeps being surprised by this activity, but for me it’s all ‘old’ hap. She’s acted like that for me for some time now. There was one instance last week where Scott started the process for her to go to church, and she was so uncooperative, he stopped, called her ride and canceled. He was so mad, I had to take over, and I basically let her go back to bed. She sleeps more now, and that too is expected from what I understand. As the brain strains to work it tires more easily, thus the extra sleeping. Although I wonder sometimes if her brain is straining to work, as she seems so completely out of it. [I feel the need to stress I know it is not her fault.]

December 2002

I had a brief talk with S about the situation with his mom and her continued decline. It is a subject we have a hard time discussing, as we tend to disagree. When she first came to live with us her abilities still allowed her to help with some things, in a controlled atmosphere. We did our best to allow her to help even if it was very slow and needed review. The situation is such now that she cannot do anything without constant supervision, being told step by step what to do, and still not being able to understand and complete the task at hand. [I am not talking about complicated things, I am talking about clearing the table, folding towels, getting dressed/undressed, taking a shower etc.] I do not want to leave her out of everything, but since she cannot complete anything, the frustration levels skyrocket. She still thinks she can do things, and seems to have no idea that her abilities do not allow her to assist any longer. And doesn’t understand what is happening around her. Minor things like standing in the middle of the kitchen while we try to get dinner on the table or the kitchen cleaned, not moving out of the way [even when asked or told], and not being able to do anything to help. She also will not do anything I ask or tell her to do, but S can say the same thing and she will. I get eyes flashes like a spoiled child.

July 9, 2003

The Home called me today, said Belle was complaining of a headache and generally mopey. Based on the level of activity they keep going, I can understand it. She gets overwhelmed sometimes and it always comes out as she has a headache. I’ll bet because she one of the higher functioning residents, they think she can keep on going and going. She and they are still adjusting and in time, they will understand her limitations. And in time her abilities will continue to decrease.

September 2004

Belle is doing as well as can be expected. We visited with her on Monday evening, taking her out for a burger. She still loves burgers. And finger food is best when eating out, as silverware is not an option in public. But, she even had problems with finger food on Monday. S handled it pretty good, but by the end of the visit, it was obvious that he was taxed. He’s been on medication for depression for a few weeks now, and it seems to be helping.

December 2004

Belle’s brother and sister in law came out for a visit during November. We kept Belle at the house overnight. She never did recall them and I think they were shocked by her appearance and lack of abilities. We’d told them about it before they saw her, but until one sees it for themselves, it is hard to take in. Even now not seeing her in awhile and then taking her somewhere brings it home all over again. It is like the mind doesn’t want to hold on to bad information. Or wants to put a positive spin on things.

February 2006

Belle is declining as is expected. S takes it very hard. She rarely knows anyone and rarely talks. It is too confusing for her to join us for family functions most of the time. The last couple times we’ve tried she’s just had a really bad day.

November 2006

Belle is in a personal care home in closer to us now, making it easier for us to visit without it being an all day event. She continues to decline. I gave up my backyard swing so we could install it at Belle’s, as she still likes to swing. We are trying to locate another swing for our yard. S still feels bad when he visits and bad when he doesn’t. It’s a no win situation.

June 2007

S still shows signs of stress regarding the topic of his mom. He has started going to visit during the week at lunch time. I think it helps because he comes back to work and has to focus on something vs. just letting his mom’s situation rattle around in his head after a weekend visit. When we visit on a weekend, he is very quiet and morose after the visit.

Note for the reader: I’ve tried throughout this story to provide an accurate account of the events as they occurred. But regardless of how the events unraveled, the main point I wanted to impress was that the persons impacted by this disease are far reaching and misunderstood. How the afflicted person declines and how it impacts the lives around them is different with each situation, but many of the feelings –good and bad — for the patient and their loved ones, are the same. A family grieves for a lost loved one that lives but is no longer the person they were.

Chapter Thirty One-Alzheimers Story Saturday, Jul 9 2011 

But I Already Have My Lipstick On:  Our story of dealing with Alzheimers

Chapter Thirty-One

The atmosphere at the personal care home was more far more conducive for Belle’s needs than her previous home and we fancied we saw some improvement.  She appeared calmer and more at ease. We continued our visits and drives, with chocolate shake treats and dinners out.  If we chose to stay at the home to visit, the back porch was normally where we would visit, watching the birds and listening to the wind chimes.   Scott continued his routine of talking to all the little ladies at the home and they smiled and shined whenever he stopped by.   Our only issue with the home was its location, which was over an hour’s drive from our home.

Christmas of 2004 was our first Christmas in our new home, and Scott thought a family reunion  with his siblings would be nice for his family.  He also felt it might be the last year that Belle recalled her children.  So, we invited his siblings out for Christmas and made plans for Belle to be able to attend.  In the months that had passed since Belle’s move out of our house, Susan had gotten divorced and moved closer to our new home.  Between  our home and hers, we felt we could accommodate the whole group for a holiday visit.

We had a house full. Larry and Emma came down from Wyoming and Mike came over from east Texas.  They all stayed with us. Chuck’s family already had plans out of state, but Chuck’s work schedule was going to limit his ability to spend the holiday with them on the trip.  He decided to stay home and attend the sibling reunion.  Since he lived over an hour away, he also stayed with us during the holidays.   Susan made arrangements to keep Belle overnight at her house on Christmas Eve.  Everything was all set.

On Christmas day 2004, Scott, his siblings, his mother and our two sons spent the day eating watching football and visiting.  Pictures of that Christmas day, ten years after the last Christmas spent together fixing up Belle’s new city home, show a family once again posed in front of a fireplace, older, tired, and glad to be together.  We all thought it might be the last time for this group to enjoy their mother’s company.

Feeling Guilty Tuesday, Dec 14 2010 

A very good friend of mine lost his father last week.  It was not unexpected, as his father had been suffering from ongoing, worsening complications of  a stroke.  His decline was at least two years in the making. But regardless, it doesn’t necessarily make his passing any easier, and certainly not when the public goodbye is a spectacle for the ‘current’ wife, that fails to recognize his father had a life before her.  Including two grown children. Such a shame. I feel for my friend and his family.

And I feel guilty, as I am struggling with my parents.  The death of my friend’s father brings home how lucky I am that both of my parents are still here. They are showing signs of failing physical and mental health, but still here.  I am happy they are still around.  I say that up front.  I am, however, struggling with their increasing needs of me and what I see coming in the future.  I’ve been down this path before.  I know the signs and I know where the path leads.  I kid myself that I am in denial, but I am.  Each time I talk with Mom, and she is confused, has forgotten something or some other issue arises, I feel sick to my stomach, and may even have a small panic attack.  Her ‘forgetfulness’ is so much like my MIL, which if you’ve read any of my postings, you know about.  And I ask myself how can I do this again?  And somewhat selfishly, why do I have to do this again?    I feel guilty for even thinking it. But I do.  Think it.