Sometimes I Feel Like a Piece of Bologna

Monday, March 05, 2012

One Last Visit?

My mom has reached the age where her friends are dying. Actually, she’s been there for several years. But as she ages, the number seems to increase. Last week there were three funerals at her church.

Among her closest, lifelong “tell-you anything” friends, three remain. One in Kansas. One in Wyoming. And one in California. You may recall that we took her on a trial trip in April 2010, hoping we could take her to Kansas and Wyoming to visit these friends, but first night out, she fell. We decided we couldn’t be out hours from a hospital and risk a fall, so we changed our plans and in October 2010 took her to the California town where she lived for many years before marrying my stepdad. She had a wonderful time with family and her best friend.

My mom is a traveler. She has a wanderlust heart. She needs to be moving all the time. But every time she threatens to drive to Kansas or central California, her mean oldest daughter (that would be me…) puts the kibosh on it. I feel bad, but I know what traffic is like out there. She hasn’t driven a road trip in almost ten years. She still thinks she can do it. Even when we take her on a trip and point out the crazy traffic.

So after several threats, hubby and I decided it was time to take her to visit her California friend again. We did that last week. It was a quick trip for her, a long trip for us. You see, in order to pull this off, we drive four hours to her, spend a couple of days doing medical appointments, then drive five hours to central California. We stay a couple of nights, then drive back five hours to her home, and four more to our home. It’s trips like this where we begin to feel our age! (It’s taken us over a week to recover from the utter TIRED we experienced).

So for all of this, she got one full day with her friend. They talked up a storm and made plans for when Mom will drive down for a longer visit, each knowing this could be their last time together. Mom is 90, her friend is 87.

I can’t imagine knowing that each goodbye could be the last. And yet, isn’t this a reality we all live with all the time? A friend’s 20-something son was just in a motorcycle accident and almost didn’t make it. My DIL’s dad (our age) passed away over Christmas following a two-year battle with cancer. I've been to several funerals for people of our generation in the last year. My sister has been critically ill for over a year. And hey, we live in California where we risk our lives just going to the store.

So I ask, how should we then live? I know I've become so much more intentional in my relationships. I treasure each time I'm with friends or family. I keep short accounts. I tell people what I value about them and how I appreciate them. I pray more for those I love. And I try to live like I want to be remembered.

So what do you do to live in the moment and treasure your relationships? What works for you? And how do you help your aging parent maintain their relationships with friends near and far?

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5 comment(s):

Wow, that is quite a trip! Makes my husband flying down to S. CA, driving back with his mom to let her visit here a week, and then driving everyone back down to S. CA so we can spend more time with her there sound almost sane...don't forget the trip back home. Is it at all feasible to fly your mother to her friends that are further away? My MIL has few friends left, not because of death, but because she has practically cut herself off socially, and is quite hard to be around. All of this is part of her damaged neurology. It does make me consider every day how I want to live the remainder of my days - whenever they begin. I guess you are right they begin now.

By Blogger KDL, at 9:23 PM  

Thanks, Pat, for allowing a peek into the challenges and rewards of taking care of one's precious parents. Your column is very much needed to equip people not only to take good care of their aging parents, but to honor them as well. Thank you for sharing... and please keep up the great work on this valuable resource on a topic that is all too much overlooked and neglected in this society. God bless you abundantly.

By Blogger Brian Tada, at 12:06 AM  

Brian, thanks for your kind words. And KDL, you certainly have your hands full! Are we the first generation to deal with these things? I don't remember hearing about it before.

By Blogger Pat, at 9:25 PM  

Pat, I know how you feel. I could not let me Mom come out to California from Colorado last year for my son's wedding because it would have been too hard on her and myself. She was really mad at me and shed many a tear, but in the end it was the best decision. I haven't seen her for over a year now and I wonder too when or if I will see her again? I think it is most difficult to take her places. My sister is taking her this weekend to Wyoming for a family wedding. I hope my sister and my Mom can handle it. It is frustrating for my siblings and Mom comes home exhausted. Phone calls seem to help keep her happy. The older she gets the less we have to talk about so the calls get shorter. Facebook and email help as she is able to sorta work those two so far. She has macular degeneration so it is hard for her to see and read. Thanks for your thoughts, your friend Jeanne

By Anonymous Jeanne Cockcroft, at 5:04 PM  

I recently spoke to my grandparents about this issue and they really did not want to discuss it. Some people recommend finding home aids or care providers just to keep them company throughout the day. One of my friends mentioned how she found someone to care for her grandparents finding in-home care.

By Blogger Home Helper, at 6:27 AM  

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