When I Get Old

My mom painted this from an award-winning photo I took

WARNING:  Nothing funny today.  Feeling rather melancholy tonight.

When I say “old”, I mean really old, like my dad.  He’s 91.  He is in a nursing home that I don’t like but that decision wasn’t up to me.  I was asked but ignored.  That’s done so on we go.  I don’t mean old like my daughter thinks is old.  My son is 25 and to her, that’s real old.  HA!

I visited my dad yesterday and today and will go again tomorrow.  He is ill right now and expected to recover just fine.  I had a wonderful time with him even though he was so frail and weak.  He knew me but was very muddled so he had many stories to tell.   We had a lot of fun.

Listening and interacting with him made me realize some things about getting old.  Things like dignity.  I think there is no helping the way one’s dignity changes; you really want it to stay the same but it just can’t.  Gone is a huge chunk of independence and in its place are new professional friends who are there to help you.  Your personal hygiene takes a fall because you need help with so many things.  What has to change is your trust in those you love and their ability to make decisions for you on your behalf.  Hopefully you can count on your family to think about you and not themselves and all to make sure your last years are as wonderful as you deserve.

I can only hope for some of my dad’s dementia.  Sounds kinda nuts but there is always, always, always good news.  It might be the news I told him yesterday or this morning but when I tell him again it’s a wonderful surprise.  Not so pleasant is the confusion and then having to tell him his brothers and sisters have all died, he is not a 26 years old boxer, and some of his daughters are not getting along with each other.  So I just don’t tell him very much of those things.  I don’t lie to him at all but tell him the truth then find it easy to distract him with something else. That always seems like fun for him.  Always something interesting going on.

I’ve told my kids what I want.  If I change my mind I will tell them again.  I cannot stand for my children to go through what my siblings and I have gone through for both my parents.  Making decisions for my parents has been so hard.  My parents are wonderful, amazing people but how could anyone be prepared or prepare their family for the last years of life?  That’s why I talked to my family.  I trust them both completely with my life just as they trusted me with theirs.  They know it’s okay to make mistakes and what’s done will be done. 

Please tell your family what you think you would want and absolutely what you do not.  I think they will have an easier time making decisions about your life later on and they will have more peace of mind too.  All of you will have the satisfaction of knowing you really did try.

Getting old…with love.  Have a wonderful life today.



One response to “When I Get Old

  1. Wow! Marie! You’ve made some excellent points here in family communication. I can sympathize with your melancholy mood too, as the last years with your parents are very hard no matter what. Your Dad is so lucky to have you and your wonderful and patient attitude. I think all family members agree on all things only in Hallmark cards and fiction! Bless you for being there for your Dad when he needs you most!

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