Friday, July 19, 2013

The Journey - Elderly Parents


My mother is eighty-eight years old and lives nearby in an assisted living home. A year and a half ago, after open heart surgery followed by a severe infection and the loss of her husband, Mom moved from the state of Washington to Roseburg, Oregon so she could be close to me and her grandchildren. She settled into an apartment in an assisted living center, and I was thrown into a whole new way of living. Our lives became intertwined.

We've been sharing life ever since, some of it has been sorrowful and some full of joy. I'm grateful for every day.

In the beginning Mom was grieving deeply over the loss of her husband, home and her health. Grief is still close at hand, but she has grown accustomed to her new home, even though she reminds me regularly it's really not home. She made friends and became active in her small community. She loves playing bingo and makes trips to local attractions and joins others who live in the center on drives to enjoy the beauty of Southern Oregon.

Mom is blessed, even though each day is a challenge. It's not easy to be old when your body and mind are giving out. And it's not easy being the daughter either. My heart breaks when I see her suffer, but the heartache doesn't strip away any of my gratitude about our being together. We relive memories, share our favorite books and movies and we celebrate holidays and anniversaries together. Whenever possible we get out and enjoy the wonder of nature.

The tough stuff - her health - is  something we also share. So much of our time is spent at doctor's offices and even the hospital from time to time. Yesterday she had a doctor's visit that was followed by a hospital visit. She's not feeling well, but she's still full of love and gratitude that spills over onto me. Yesterday while helping a technician with Mom's X-rays, the tech thanked me. I was close to tears as I looked at my precious mother trying to do all that was asked of her while coping with pain. I answered  the tech with, "Well, that's my mama." Mom's reply - "That's my daughter."

Her words were warm with love and appreciation. I can't count how many times she's told me how much she loves me and is thankful for me. When we look at each other, even when we're weary, we see how strong our love is for the other. Love is powerful. It is healing. And it makes life beautiful.

These days, like winter, can be sharp and cold, but I am grateful for every one, even those days spent in the hospital. My mother is a gift to her family, and God knew how much we needed her. She needs us too. God's design of family was pure genius - well He is God after all.

If the years are winding down for you or someone you love, make the most of every single day. Spend time together, even if it has to happen long distance. The time will come when earthly days end and we won't have the opportunity for another hug or an "I love you." At least not until heaven..

Don't  put off the opportunities for another day. You may not have any more.

Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie

8 comments:

  1. Oh man, we've had the moments for 30 yrs now--getting harder 'n harder now that Ev's 98. It would be lots easier if she were/had been in an asst. living place vs our home all these yrs. But this is where God's placed us 3. More blessings than complaints--and we haven't killed each other yet--but posts like this don't make me feel all warm 'n fuzzy as I wish they would. Just kinda make me "sigh" at this point, and wanna "try harder"... So thanks for that! <3 Caregiving is harder than being a parent, but the good Lord knows we all need each other!

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  2. Ahh Patty, thirty years is a long stretch. You must have done a good job for Ev to reach 98.

    If I was able, physically, to care for my mother in my home I probably would have tried to convince her, but she's always been determined not to burden her children in that way.

    We are thankful she can afford assisted living. It's very expensive. Over all, I think it's good for her - she has friends right where she's living and lots of activities, including wonderful musicians that come in almost every week.

    Care giving is a really tough job. Thank you for loving Ev as you do. I will include you in my prayers, dear lady.

    Hugs to you.

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  3. Banking on those prayers, thanks! We cared for R's dad with Alzheimer's for 11 yrs--I missed him so much that's why I went to work in nursing/retirement/asst. liv. facilities for so many yrs in activities. Soooooo loved it, but as director, I ended up doing admin stuff and not as much hands on-grrrrrr! I loved my peeps and loved a job where I was appreciated 'n adored--wowie zowie! But now, with a mom in law--it's a different story at this stage. But not bad--just hard. God is incredibly good to us all... no regrets then, now, or later!

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  4. Good article. Many years ago, my grandfather had multiple brain surgeries and he and my grandmother moved from Wisconsin to Minnesota to live. We were privileged to have them here for many years. I wouldn't trade those years for the world and I know that neither would they or my mom.

    Now, my father-in-law (who lived in assisted living briefly), my husband and I and my daughter and grandchildren live together. Each generation enjoys the other. I wouldn't have my life any other way.

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  5. Anonymous10:01 PM

    God Bless you all for helping your families. I'm a district nurse and I love seeing families care for one another as unfortunately it is the rareity. It is not an easy thing to do and I hope when my parents/inlaws reach that age I am able to help them too
    Ollie xx

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  6. Caring for elderly parents isn't easy, but the rewards are so much greater than the sacrifices. It's been so wonderful to get to know my mother again - we've lived far from one another for so many years. And my children and grandchildren are finally getting to know their grandmother/great-grandmother. They love her so much. We are all learning to give more and love without conditions. What could be better?

    Ollie, I've heard from the care givers at the assisted living home where my mother lives that our family is not the norm. That so many live there alone . . . truly. I have made lots of friends at the facility. Some have lovely families but so many have no one. Maybe there are those reading this who might enjoy coming alongside a senior citizen who needs a friend. It would be such a wonderful gift.

    We need to pray for our elderly. It really is hard to get old.

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  7. Deanna8:33 PM

    Bonnie,
    I love your outlook and your love of your mother. Even the days that are not easy! Love you and your mom, give her sweet hugs from me and MY daughter...We both love you and your mom!

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  8. Thanks,Dea. You and your daughter and so many others have been so good to my mom. I am sooo thankful for caregivers who make the lives of the elderly and suffering a bit easier. You are all angels.

    I'll give her a hug from you. And here's one from me to you.

    Bless you.

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