Tag Archives: Aging

February 2 – Into Her World

by Letty Watt

Photo by Cristie Guevara courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net.

Photo by Cristie Guevara courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net.

My friends, whose loved ones have suffered before with the trembles of aging say to me, “Go to her world. Just listen. Don’t criticize. Don’t explain. Don’t tell her she’s wrong or confused.”

My heart understands, but my mouth, too often, says the wrong things. At ninety-two my mother-in-law’s world is spinning out of control as her body bends, and her mind becomes entangled with what is real and what is imagined.

Sitting in the lobby at the assisted living center to watch people and chat with others is one of her favorite times of day. She needs people to interact with, and we are thankful that she’s still alert enough to get out of her room. Some days her reality is similar to ours, but more often than not her fears and recurring nightmares leave her nearly paralyzed with fear.

I watched my husband the other day, as he walked into his mother’s room. Her eyes were closed, and her head drifted to the side. Her hands, worn from decades of playing the guitar and piano, rested on her purse. Her walker stood in front of her knees and feet like a faithful dog, ready to assist her. My husband knelt on one knee and touched her hands. “Hi, Mom.”

Her head rose slowly and a gentle smile formed across her lips. The sparkle in her eyes seemed slow to shine. “Oh, Jack. I’m so glad you’re here. I’ve called you and called you.”

She looked up at me.

“I’ve called you both all day long. Please do something. Everyone is moving out fall today, and I need help. They’ve left me here alone. I don’t think I can drive myself.”

My heart raced upon hearing the fear and confusion in her voice. My husband calmly patted his mother’s hands, and remained on the floor eye-level with her.

“I’m sorry that’s happened Mom. I will take care of it. Remember that John and I will always find a way to keep you safe.”

She nodded and dropped her head slightly, “Can I go home now?”

“Mom, I’m here now. I won’t let anything happen to you. Oh, look out the window at the birds feeding.”

Her head lifted and turned to the sunshine in the window. “I like to watch out the window and see who is coming to visit. Yesterday, I saw John drive through the parking lot, but he didn’t stop to come see me. Why not?”

“I’m sure he drove by on his way to work and waved at you. He wanted you to know that you were safe. Do you have some pictures of the twins to show us?”
She shuffled through her purse, finding the present day in an envelope of pictures from her grandchildren.

Beaming with pride, she said, “They are so cute. Evelyn is walking now, and Eleora talks a lot. She’s just like me.” The sparkle returned to her eyes.

lettyWriting soothes Letty Watt’s soul and clears her mind. She began writing a weekly blog over five years ago, with the purpose of building a repertoire of stories for telling aloud, but things changed. Now she writes because stories hidden in the recesses of her mind are begging to get out into the world. Check out her blog, Literally Letty, at https://literallyletty.blogspot.com.
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July 17 – No Explanation

by Patricia Roop Hollinger

“I don’t believe this,” I exclaimed to my husband. “The caregiver at ARC informs me that Stephen needs a new wheelchair. The one just purchased last year is already missing a headrest and a foot rest.”

Stephen lives in a home for the disabled; as he was born with profound disabilities and was predicted to die within weeks, then months which now have become 50 years this August 17, 2015.

Oh, I made an attempt to keep him at home, until sleepless nights coupled with uncontrollable seizures gave me no choice but to relinquish his care in a setting where caregivers had 8 hour shifts; thus relieving them of the constancy of his care.

These caregivers are only paid a minimum wage. Thus, the constancy of his care is compromised by the frequency of staff leaving for a better paying job. And, yet, the legislature drags their feet regarding any increase in the minimum wage for workers caring for the ‘least of these among us.

Their primary concern is to halt all abortions. You know their spiel about the sanctity of life, blah, blah, blah. Does that include quality of life as well? Have any of them visited or cared for a child who is profoundly disabled in all facets of their bodies?

Stephen needs touch and a constant pair of eyes and ears. Vicky, a massage therapist, gives him a massage twice a month and then reports to me the state, or lack thereof, of his home and care. She has become my eyes and ears regarding his care.

Stephen, I pray that when you and I both are not bound by the limits of the physical realm we can have a conversation about all these years and the profound impact they have had on each of our lives.

Patricia Roop HollingerPatricia is a retired LCPC/Chaplain from a inpatient/outpatient psychiatric hospital as of 2010. She is a mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and the daughter of a mother who will be 102 on July 12th, 2015. She is a voracious reader, musician, lover of cats, and is currently exploring her writing skills.

May 2 – Forgot

by Doris Jean Shaw

This morning I made the coffee. We have a fancy machine where you heat the water before you make the coffee. Well, I forgot to heat the water before letting the machine perk. The mess that dripped through looked more like weak tea than a strong brew and it was cold. So much for starting the day out right with a nice cup of coffee. Guess I will just have toast.

I put the bread in the toaster and moved to clean up the coffee debacle. The toast stuck and burnt sending smoke around the kitchen. Flaying at the rising smoke with a dish towel proved futile as the smell enveloped me and settled on everything. I had to open the door to get the smoke out. Forgot the alarm code and sent the wail through the house.

Time to do laundry. I put the clothes in the washing machine and close the lid. When I come back to throw the clothes in the dryer, I discover I forgot to turn it on.

Out to check the mail, no need to worry about the alarm. HA! I find the letters I had put in the box back in my box unsent. Seems I forgot to affix a stamp to send them on their way.

Passing by the hall mirror, I see that I had put my shirt on wrong side out because I forgot to turn it right side out. Could this day get any worse? I doubt it.

Lunch is delayed because someone forgot to turn the burner on. Noon finds me totally frustrated and the house still smells like burnt toast. I find myself snapping at Bud and he has this puzzled look on his face. I feel light-headed and my stomach is growling. In the hubbub of the morning, I had forgotten to eat lunch.

Bud doesn’t deserve to be a victim of my forgetfulness and neither do I. I get Bud settled to watch his favorite morning show and decide to hit the rewind on my day. I slip into my pajamas and go back to bed, pulling the cover over my head and looking for the reset button. I am going to see if I can find my memory button and start this day all over again, on a more positive note this time.

Doris Jean Shaw

Doris Jean Shaw is a retired educator, Life Coach, author and member of  the Beauregard Parish Writers Guild–The Ink Blots. She loves to travel and writes romances, children’s stories and devotionals. Mrs. Shaw presents a workshop, entitled Reclaiming Me that helps women find direction for their futures.

May 5 – Age Is Only a Number?

by Laura Strathman Hulka

“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” Mark Twain (American Humorist, Writer and Lecturer. 1835-1910)

Today I turn sixty. Six-O. For some reason, in our society, the “0” birthdays (with, perhaps, the exception of 18 and 21) are the biggies. I vaguely remember 30 – I had two toddlers, so wasn’t too interested in tracking my life through age! 40, yeah, that was sort of a big deal. To me the top of “that” hill we all talk about going over. 50. Hmmm. No, not really a big deal, but a lot was going on in my life at 50, 51… first grandchild, born when I was 49. My mother moving in with us. Major surgery (total knee replacement, x 2) my husband’s bout with Prostate Cancer. I didn’t care about turning 50 as a number – was more concerned about SURVIVING 50!

Now I am turning 60. My children and grandchildren see me as “old.” I don’t remember thinking about my mother that way when she was 60 – my mother always seemed vivid and vital and alive. I thought when I turned 60, my life would be mellow, laid back, easier… NOT! There have been great changes in my life in the last 5 years. A major move back to my home-state, my own struggle with Endometrial Cancer. I have always been aware of human frailty, and my own mortality. I really believed that Mark Twain was right about age.

So what is different in this day? Is the sky any less blue? My love for my husband of 38 years any less true? No, of course not. Life is a lot harder than I expected it to be; less money, mediocre health, fewer contacts with my grown children… And yet, somehow, Life is a lot easier than I expected it to be as well; fewer highs and lows, more dedication to hobbies and activities I enjoy, greater enthusiasm for each dawn, and each sunset.

I have learned to embrace the cliches – roll with the punches, not to let the little things bother me, to forgive and, hopefully forget, to sing in the rain and dance (at least metaphorically) with the fairies in the garden. I have learned to appreciate the friends that have stuck with me on this journey, and let go of the friends that couldn’t grow old with me. I have learned that perhaps my greatest gift to myself, and to others, is the ability to laugh at the good, the bad, and the ugly.I am a rather curious person.I like finding out about new things, meeting new people, exploring new ideas.

And I have discovered that there is richness in 60… from the gentle touch of lavender in my garden, with its wafting scent, to a smile from my husband, for no reason at all except because. Happy Birthday to Me!

Laura describes herself: “In a nutshell: Curious, funny, reader, writer, Momma, Nana, happily married 38 years, baker, crafter, volunteer, pacifist, spiritual feminist, Rubenesque! Life’s an adventure!”