Thursday, November 15, 2007

Me? A writer?

After divulging yesterday, on a blog for the whole world to read, that I aspire to be a writer I have had serious PPR’s (post party regrets). How presumptuous! What arrogance! What gives me the idea that anyONE wants to read anyTHING I have to say on any TOPIC? Yet, I remain firm in my commitment to this endeavor.
Actually, I am already a writer and have been for a very long time. The difference in the last few years is that I have come out of the closet. When Jim was stricken with cancer, I started my e-mailing from Houston to keep a few friends and family members apprised of his condition. Those letters were really outpourings of my innermost feelings as I searched for strength and direction from God. When I talked with the recipients of these e-mails I was astounded by their responses. I realized that God was using my talents to speak to others. Opening up, making myself vulnerable to the judgment of others was difficult for me but I received so much affirmation from the writing that I believed that God wanted me to do this. The writing was cathartic for me and it seemed to be a blessing for some who read it. The list grew and I continued to write about the many aspects of the cancer journey.

Now I feel that God wants me to do something more with this. I am still reticent about sharing my thoughts with others but I believe that God expects us to make judicious use of our gifts. How can we do that if we hide them under a bushel? A writer needs an audience as does a singer or a pianist. I have not been a very good steward of the gifts God has given me. I hope that I can set that aright in the time I have left.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

book ideas

Some of you don’t know that I am planning to write a book. I have been writing all sorts of things for the past year. Now the question becomes, “How do I bring it all together?” I have the letters that I have written from Houston dealing with the cancer experience from the caregiver’s side. That topic, however, seems so overdone. I can’t imagine that I have anything new to add.
I also thought about writing a sort of memoir about the “sandwich generation” which would include experiences in caring for aging parents, children and spouses. The problem with any sort of memoir is that it smacks of preoccupation with self. The market is flooded with them. Personally I like to read them but then I like to read most things that are well written. I even had a title picked out “Growing Up Boomer”, since I was born in the first year of the post war boom. I was deflated when I read that Cristopher Buckley came out with “Boomsday” and Tom Brokaw with “Boom”. Glad to know I had a timely idea, sorry Tom beat me to the punch. What bad luck!
Whatever I plan to write I’d better get with it or I’ll be dead before I can finish!

the unexpected

Mom has been home for two weeks now and it has been a time of ups and downs. Just about the time I begin to relax, she has another setback. A week ago she fell in the morning before Diane got there at 8:30. Thank God, she wasn’t hurt but the fall really shook her self confidence. She was terribly discouraged and said that day was the very worst day she has had since this all started. We went back to staying with her round the clock for 3 days. A week later she called in the middle of the night because she was sick. I was afraid she would have to go back to the hospital but she was fine the next day.

This echoes the cancer experience in that I have to learn to expect the unexpected. I don’t know of anyone whose cancer recovery or treatment has progressed smoothly without setbacks. This is the same. My mother is almost 90 years old. She is going to die—probably not from this broken hip but from something in the next few years. Even if she lives another 10 years her health is not going to get better. The longer she lives the more likely physical and mental decline become. I must accept this, and like her, adjust to living with the new normal.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Answered Prayer

I want to update you on my mom. She came home, to her own home, Friday. Nicole came in from Birmingham and stayed with her until Sunday at 2 when I took over. She is doing very well, so happy to be home and reconciling herself to the fact that she will have some permanent limitations. Her faithful cat has not left her side. Perhaps he is, as Chris suggested, wracked with guilt. God has certainly answered our prayers, not only in allowing her to return to her home, but in providing all of the care that we have needed—and as always, above and beyond what we asked for. The woman that we have hired to stay with her is a wonderful Christian woman who lives near Holly Springs but is willing to drive here twice a day, 8:30 to 12:30, and 5-9. We think that Mom will be able to stay by herself the rest of the time. We have known Diane’s family for a few years and know that her willingness to work for and with us is an answer to prayer.
Most importantly God has answered my prayers and given me patience, energy, and willingness to do what needs to be done. Once again He has been faithful to equip me for the job He has laid before me. This is no mean feat because as I told you earlier I am not by nature suited to caring for the elderly. This doesn’t mean that I am ready for sainthood. I’m sure that there will be days ahead when I am burdened, short-tempered and complaining but I can truthfully say that God has worked a miracle in me, maybe not as magnificent as the parting of the Red Sea, but a miracle just the same.
I have just begun the next course in care giving taught by the Master himself. I’m not a stellar student but, praise God, I have patient and forgiving teacher.
Under His tutelage,
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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

caring for an aging parent

I think that when we see an aging parent or an aging anyone, we see what lies ahead for us, and that prospect is frightening. Who will take care of us and how will they feel about it? My kids have already said that they are not looking forward to taking care of me because I am high maintenance now. Nicole and Tara said need to start soon to find a nursing home with good feng shui where they don’t wake the patients before 8 A.M and where they serve gourmet health food. For my part I have promised to keep my own teeth. Thank you very much, Carl.
Our parents are a buffer between us and death. Irrationally it seems that as long as we have a living parent we are protected from the grim reaper. I know that when Mom goes I become the oldest generation. Oh my gosh!! All of the vitamins, spas, plastic surgery, and good clean living won’t stop the inevitable. Yep, I am going to get old and feeble.
The role reversal is hard to absorb. When we care for our infants we expect them to be helpless and we even enjoy their dependence on us. I never objected to changing baby diapers and what is sweeter than a baby drooling while she sleeps? Obstinacy in a 3 yr old is expected and tolerable but in an adult it’s a little harder to take. I expect my 2 yr old not to understand all that I am saying but I’m not used to having to repeat or explain things to my very intelligent mother whose though processes continue to slow down. I want to shake her and say, “Stop it! You are scaring me. I just told you that 5 minutes ago. Please continue to be the same mother you have always been.”
When I get irritated with Mom and my patience is thin, I remember all that she has done for me –not just the expected things that all mothers do but the above and beyond things—like when I was 4 and the neighborhood bully, Mickey Bador, wouldn’t let me ride his sled, she raided the mad money that she was saving for a dress in the “will call” at Helmans to buy me my own sled,or the times she cut ALL the fat off my meat even though my dad said a little fat wouldn’t hurt me, and the time she came to get me after 2 days of overnight camp over the objections of my no-nonsense grandmother, saying, “there will be plenty of things she has to do in life and this is not one of them”, and all of the times that she gave me what she ordered and ate my hamburger because I liked what she ordered more. So I’ll wipe her mouth and clean her teeth and bring her fudge sundaes and real cokes in a bottle and thank God that I still have a mother to take care of.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Taking care of Mom

Back to the subject of caregivers. Many of you on this mailing list are caring for your spouses who are going through cancer treatment. Others are caring for aging parents. Most of the experiences that I discussed in my letters from Houston are common to both, but for me there are some notable differences.
When I was caring for Jim, I was fatigued but I was so thankful that I was at a place in my life where I could drop everything and devote myself to taking care of him. I am no martyr. God gave me supernatural energy to do what needed to be done. I had it easy—no job to hold down, no children at home to care for, plenty of emotional support. Honestly, it was a wonderful time when I felt safe in the hand of God.
Taking care of my mother is very different. While she is sick my life goes on. I have other obligations—a husband at home, grandchildren to care for. When Jim was sick I never felt torn. I was with him every minute because I wanted to be and because I could be. I did nothing from a sense of duty and I had no reason to feel guilty.

With Mom I do feel guilt. It’s surprising because she never used guilt to manipulate me. Yet I feel guilty when I am short with her, guilty when I don’t want to stay with her, and guilty because I’d rather be doing a whole bunch of other things. I feel like the very bad daughter of the very good mother. My hat goes off to Sharon, who cared for her father who had Alzheimers, and now takes care of her mother and mother-in-law, and to Margaret Anne who stepped up to the plate to take care of her Grandmommy, aunt, great-aunt, and finally moved in with her dying mother to care for her day and night,
to Susan who has spent years caring for her daughter, to Sharyn Owen, Fairfax, Linda, and all of the others on this list who responded to my e-mails with stories of their own experiences. I know that what I am going through now is nothing new or unusual. Im sure that if we had been privy to a family discussion in Bedrock we might have heard a middle aged Pebbles and Bambam discussing what was to be done with the widow Wilma who was found wandering the streets minus her leopard skin.
Really I think I should write a book about this phenomenon in our generation. It’s nothing new, of course but as baby boomers we are more likely to deal with it as life expectancy increases.

Monday, October 22, 2007


I can't believe that I actually have a blog. It is even harder to believe that someone will actually read it. Chris set this up for me a few weeks ago but my technical anxiety has kept me from using it. I will be sending this to all of you on my Houston mailing list. According to Chris, my computer guru, this format will enable others to read the comments that all of you make. Or you can just read --no comment required.
I'm becoming such a technocrat I'll soon be using "myspace".

Sunday, October 14, 2007

New blog

This is my new blog. Look for more later.