Man’s Best Friend

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A unit down the hall from ours has been vacant for several months. The owner died and her kids put it on the market. They were there so often during the end that my Dad got really attached to their dog.

Imagine our surprise when, after returning home from the doctor the other day, we saw the dog (and his human) walking in front of our building. My Dad was so happy you’d think he just won the lottery. 

Oh, to have that much power…!

Home Cooking Demise

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With all the new cooking shows currently on TV, you’d think any person watching would be like ‘a child in a candy store.’ But, if that person happened to be me, you’d be sadly mistaken.

I was never a great cook but the meals I prepared were pretty good. I certainly never poisoned anyone. But I also, for instance, never learned how to make a turkey. Why should I? Mom always had that particular honor (still does) and, ‘if it ain’t broken, why fix it?’

My parents now get meals-on-wheels a few days a week because even Mom doesn’t feel like cooking anymore. And, when visiting friends, why bake a dessert to bring over when they make exceptional ones in your average, local supermarket? I just don’t see the point.

So, if I can get away with buying already-prepared food from any other source (as long as it’s reasonably priced), I’m doing it!*

 

*In full disclosure… I DID bake cookies and cupcakes for my kids’ bake sales and classroom celebrations for years.

Advice Worth Taking

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I find it amazing that the very people (our parents and grandparents) who taught us life lessons can be so hypocritical when it comes to the ‘new’ generation.

I was taught:

  • No sleeping together before marriage
  • Marriage before children
  • Go to college and then get a job
  • No car till you can afford gas and insurance

Now, my parents (I have no living grandparents) allow their grandkids to do pretty much whatever they want. There are suddenly no more rules or restrictions and they even help finance some of these questionable choices.

What’s a modern parent to do… Is turnabout fair play? Perhaps that dreaded nursing home is starting to look a bit more tempting! 😉

 

Is Easier Better?

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My parents and I just celebrated our second anniversary of generational living. Has it improved their quality of life? Has it made their lives any easier?

I’ve decided to let them speak for themselves. So I quickly jotted down a few key questions and I’ll share their answers with you. These are things we all wonder about in our own lives so I figured they’d be helpful on a number of levels.

Me: “Are you happy?”
Mom: “Yes.”
Dad: “I’m learning to deal…”

Me: “How much stress do you feel daily?”
Mom: “A bit.”
Dad: “Tons.”

Me: “If you could have one wish?”
Mom: “That your Dad’s eyes were better.”
Dad: “That I could get my eyes back.”

My takeaway from this is that, while my parents (after nearly 60 years together) are basically on the same wave length, their commonality works best when they are at their best selves!

Let’s Trade Up

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We’ve all complained, at one time or another, that life was unfair. Some people make more money than others and some people are just born into it. Some people have more kids than they should have and others can’t have even one.

Well, guess what? Life isn’t always fair. My Mom always told me (as her mother told her) that if everyone put their problems in the middle of the room, you’d grab yours and run like hell.

Sometimes bad things happen to good people. I don’t know why but, then, I don’t make the rules. I just have to live by them. We all do. Ever hear the expression: “sell your soul to the devil?” Some people are willing to give up almost anything to get what they want. But most things like that come with too big a price tag (and not just financially speaking).

So, what would you be willing to give up everything for… Your family? Your health? Let’s hope you never have to find out!

See For Yourself

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You can’t always take someone else’s word for something that you can’t see for yourself. It’s fine to participate in a good debate and some people enjoy taking classes as adults because they’re still interested in learning. But never settle for accepting someone else’s opinion.

We often tell our children to be leaders, not followers. We encourage them to think and act for themselves (of course, they’ll only listen to what we say for a few short years). Then it’s on to their friends as their closest advisors.

It’s certainly easier, by far, to just be a bystander and not commit yourself to a cause. That might be okay for some people but others like to take a more active part. Standing up for or standing beside another human being takes a different kind of person – one who is completely dedicated and accepts the risks involved.

Open your eyes, your mind and your heart and, together, let them lead the way. You’ll sleep better, you’ll feel better and you’ll never again doubt your choices!

Short Term Paranoia

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As a small child I remember thinking the ‘old guy’ that always sat at his window, looking outside to make sure no one stepped on his perfectly manicured lawn, was a bit creepy. In his defense, neighborhood kids did make it a point to purposely throw balls onto his lawn and (before we were taught to pick up after our dogs) dogs regularly used his front lawn as their own public pooper-scooper.

Since living back with my parents I’ve noticed that they, too, spend an awful lot of time sitting in front of THEIR window. They watch for the mailman (they don’t get much more than medical bills); the meals-on-wheels delivery man (with whom they’re on a first name basis); the UPS truck (when I tell them I’m expecting a package but it probably won’t arrive for weeks); and their grandkids (as if wishing for it will actually make it happen).

I realize they have little to look forward to on a daily basis but it seems a bit paranoid of them to watch out for, say, impending snow when only an inch or two is predicted and they have nowhere to go in it anyway. But I suppose it does make the days go by faster and maybe, in their minds, it might even make them feel more a part of their surroundings now that they spend so much of their time indoors.

As I think back on that ‘old guy’ next door and remember how my Dad used to call him a busybody and a cranky old man, it feels as if time has come full circle only now it’s my Dad who has earned the title of ‘crotchety-old-dude.’

But, if truth be told and years of hard living give you some street cred, he’s truly earned it!

Stages Of Life

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When people label their various stages of life, it’s usually things like ‘before kids’ or ‘after divorce.’ But when you’ve lived well into your retirement years, it tends to be more like ‘before dementia sets in’ or ‘after everything stops working.’

None of us can predict the future and, as we grow older and approach our declining years, we’re learning that some things ‘just happen’ – no matter how much we try to plan otherwise. Bad things happen to good people and some bad people live to a ripe old age.

Different religions teach about destiny and fate. But, for all of us, life should be a journey well traveled. There will be ups and downs, triumphs and tragedies, good times and bad. It’s up to each of us to make the best of the hands we’re dealt.

We, alone, are responsible for the choices we make. 

So, next time you decide to label your life’s stages, try these on for size: ‘before I finally opened my eyes’ and ‘after I forgave myself!’

My Greatest Accomplishments

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When I made the decision to not only have children but also to raise them myself, I took a lot of criticism from people who had no qualms about letting others raise their own kids. I never voiced my opinion about their decision to work full time and hire strangers to look after their children and I expected at least that much in return.

It’s funny how people view the same situation in such different ways.

Be that as it may, I consider myself lucky to have been able to devote all my attention to my sons and I never regretted that choice.

When I decided to take care of my aging parents I could do no less than that. My parents gave me life just as I gave life to my children. The choice was a no brainier. I am fortunate that, even in their eighties, both my parents are still in my life.

Loving and caring for someone is not a part time job – it’s a lifetime commitment. 

Not that it’s been easy, by any means, but the benefits of this unique living arrangement far outweigh the difficulties we’ve endured. Living with and caring for elderly parents is not a choice to be made lightly. It may not be the right choice for everyone. It takes a lot of hard work and a ton of patience but it can also be one of the most rewarding and selfless things you will ever do!

The Ultimate Lesson

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I never thought it would happen but it did… I got sick. Normally that wouldn’t be a catastrophic event except for the fact that I am currently my parents’ caretaker and I’m not supposed to get sick.

Who’s gonna take care of ME now?

Of course, all throughout my illness, my Mom kept asking if there was anything she could do for me but the last thing I wanted was for either of them to get sick, too. So, that’s my dilemma.

Mom was always my caretaker. Even after I left for college, she would tell me to come home if I got sick so that she could take care of me (like that was ever going to happen). And when I eventually got married and had a husband to take care of me, she still insisted on being there for me if at all possible.

I understand that feeling all too well because I hate it when my kids get sick. All I want to do is take the pain and misery away. It’s a mother’s curse. So, as I continue to avoid my parents while trying to prevent them from catching my germs, I learn the ultimate lesson… “Once you sign on to be a mother, that’s the only shift they offer.”*

*Jodi Picoult: My Sister’s Keeper