Tuesday, August 27, 2013

My day put my life in perspective

Today I had spent the afternoon with a friend who's living in a strange version of hell.  She was a widow until she remarried a few years ago.  He was a nice enough man, not the love of her life, but they seemed on track to have a pleasant life until.......   he needed neck surgery.   The surgery was basically successful but then he fell while in the hospital and that started a series of medical issues that have gone on for a year.  He has finally returned home from multiple hospitalizations and rehab centers.  He should not be living at home and she should not be having to care for him.  He can't eat, he can't swallow, he can't walk;  he is a living skeleton.    It is the saddest thing I've almost ever seen.  She has arranged for daytime help but she does the night shift.

She is a beautiful, vibrant, smart woman who loves life.  He is barely alive.  We spent the afternoon at a nice French cafe, sitting outside and chatting and drinking wine and trying to forget what awaited her at home.  I dropped her back at her home and like I was leaving  her in hell. 

No matter what my problems and frustrations I wouldn't trade for her's for anything.    

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

When I was in high school my father took a job running an electrical power plant for the U.S. Navy in Rota, Spain.  Rota is in southern Spain, Andalucia, on the Atlantic coast.  My years in Rota were magical and I have always wanted to return.  This fall, over 40 years later, I finally get my chance.

The base is still there, albeit smaller than when I was there, and the town of Rota where I lived is much bigger, but it is still a classic Spanish beach town without the hoards of foreign tourists.  It is where actual Spaniards go on summer holiday.  We will be staying almost four weeks in Spain and 11 days of that will be spent in Rota.  I've booked an apartment right in town from Airbnb so that we can actually "live" in Spain again.  We will do our breakfast at the small bar down the street, go to the mercado to get food for dinner, and take our paseo in the evening.  I'm getting more and more excited as we are now within a month of leaving.  Every morning I look at the Airbnb pictures of the apartment and think about what I'll do once I'm there.

If you want to dream along with me you can find me here - https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/338483

Monday, August 19, 2013

Just finished reading.....

"The Orphan Master's Son" by Adam Johnson.    It won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for 2013.  This is our book club selection for our September meeting and some friends who read it before I did really didn't like it.  I think it is not the kind of book you "like" but I found it fascinating and scary.  Taking place in North Korea it deals with the issues of propaganda,  the power of the North Korean government over the people, and the subjugation of "self" in order to survive. The government has the power to declare false to be true and create histories and stories that become true by their telling.  If you are wearing the clothes and the leader calls you a name, you have just become that person and even people who know you are NOT that person will accept your new role and persona and go along with it without missing a beat.  Lots of violence and awful stuff but I believe it is a pretty violent and awful place.  I recommend it with the caveat that you need to read a better synopsis and review before you make the decision to spend your money.  I think it is another one of the books that people should read to remind themselves that not all people "think" the way we do and we cannot expect them to react as we do.  We need to understand people on their terms, whether we like those terms or not. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

There are some things I just don't understand.....

like how one family I know thinks it is ok to have a feeding tube inserted into a 92 year old woman in a coma and agonize over (and prolong) her impending death.  And the son who made the decision is a medical doctor! Does he have not one clue that he is making the very short time she has left that much worse?  Is he so very frightened of death that he cannot imagine that it would be better than the hell this woman is currently experiencing?  These people are devout Catholics so I would think that they would be comforted by the idea that she is going to "a better place with God".  Or is their faith really so tenuous that they only believe in punishment not reward for a life well lived?  Or maybe her life wasn't well lived and she maybe was a truly awful person and they think she is going to hell?  And we have now spent ten's of thousands of Medicare dollars to keep this body nourished (but clearly not eating or interacting).  This is good use of medical resources?  I just don't understand.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

OK, things are getting better.  I finally told him flat out I was tired of him bitching at me all the time and then I made a trip to his house where I only did the chores and errands, did not stay for conversation, and took a very businesslike approach. I made it clear I would not abandon him but I would not let him rule my life (both internal and external).  I've had two days off from his demands and time for lunch with a friend and an afternoon learning to play Mah Jongg.  I'll just enjoy this for the time that it lasts.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

I thought it was a joke. I guess it wasn't

Today with my father started poorly with me calling him to say the latest contractor/estimator had called and asked to reschedule his appointment from 1 - 4 pm to 11-12 pm.  I told my dad that I had accepted this new appointment time since 1) it was better for him since he has a friend coming over this afternoon and 2) it was better for me since I wouldn't have to sit around for 3 hours at his house waiting on the contractor to show up.  His response was (and I quote) "Jesus Christ, no."  After I assured him that I would deal with the contractor and that he didn't need to even get involved to even say hello and that I would be at his house in advance but that I would wait in the driveway for the person to show up so as not to disturb his morning routine, he agreed that as long as he didn't need to be involved AT ALL it would be ok.

So, I went to his house and sat in the driveway with my crocheting and as it was a lovely day I enjoyed the sun and the cool temps and managed to find my crochet mistake and rip things out to correct it.  The contractor arrived and and after some grumbling and hostility my dad retreated to the kitchen and allowed us into the house.  Later, after the contractor had prepared his estimate my father invited us into the kitchen to discuss it.  I had warned the contractor that my dad was a bit gruff and grumpy and that his hostility was not with him but with me.  The contractor was very nice and tried to make some easy conversation with my father as he presented his work plan and estimate.  During the conversation he joked that he had four daughters and that was why he had no hair and he asked my dad how many children he had.  My dad replied "Just the one."  And then I continued in a joking manner "Yes, I'm the only one and I'm the greatest disappointment."  My father didn't make any comment..  He just stared straight ahead.

I know I was fishing for some recognition, I just wasn't prepared for the recognition that I received. So, breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out....... Namaste

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Things I think about during the 5 minute drive from my house to my father's house

My dad lives about  a mile and a half  from my house.  When the kids were little it was wonderful to have my parents so nearby and the kids could even walk over to visit once they were old enough to cross the busy street.   Now that my dad is old it is nice that the trip can be made quickly and easily since I often do it multiple times each day.   While on the short drive over there things just pop into my head.

  • I hope that I raised my kids to know that they can live anywhere they want and I hope they realize they have no obligation to me.   That is my gift to them and it was not a gift I was given.   It was always clear to me that the responsibility for my parents would be mine alone.  I am an only child so there is no one with whom to share the burden but more than that, ratings of  "she's such a good daughter" when in reference to other families were only given when the daughter had clearly subjugated her own needs for her parents needs - that she had moved home, that she had quit her job to care for them, that she had been the "good daughter".  So, my attainment of "good daughter" status is clearly dependent on how I handle this last task as I've been unable to get that rating  for anything else I've ever done.
  • When I die I want it to be fast and unexpected.  I don't really want to die of old age and I don't want to get sick and fade away, I just want to be here one minute and not here the next.  It has to be hard for my father who, even though he is in basically good health, knows that he will not outlive his new furnace.
  •  How on earth do people cope with all of this when they have young children or jobs?  I am busy all day long dealing with petty stuff - groceries, checking on him, arranging for maintenance, waiting on the maintenance people, fixing his computer, taking him some supper, fixing his computer (again, and again, and again), trips to the library for talking books, getting him a haircut, going to doctor/dentist appointment, back and forth to church.  The list is endless.....  Although this is not how I imagined spending my time during retirement I'm glad I don't have to squeeze it all in between children and work.  
  • When should I (or has the time already passed) step in and "just say no" to him?  I feel like as long as he is mentally competent that I can't really overrule his wishes.  I just keep working to make things work for him and being thankful that he has sufficient money to cover the expenses.  
  • I know other cultures venerate old people but I don't I think that old people should have any more claim on our time and resources than, say, children, or teenagers, or middle-aged folks.  They have different needs that must be met but why are their needs higher on the scale than those of others?  I don't mean we should put them on an ice flow and let them drift away, but why are we allowing them to suck up all the medical resources when many children can't get basic medical care.   I really dislike the AARP and all their lobbying efforts which don't have any balance on what is good for the entire population.  We have people far more at risk than most of the elderly.  I hate the sense of 'entitlement' that is held by many of the elderly. 
  • I hope I have the good sense to move from my home and make lifestyle changes before my kids have to step in and make me do it.  I have made it clear that I am extracting no promises from them regarding my care.  They are free to step in and make me do it when they think that they should. My mother was blackmailed by my grandmother with the "please don't put my in a nursing home" plea.  And my mother didn't and my grandmother's care was a constant worry.   My father clearly won't make a move to a place where he would be safer and  would provide me far more peace of mind.  He doesn't seem to realize or, maybe more truthfully, care that it isn't only his life he is impacting.