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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Thursday, March 01, 2012

A Scam of a Different Color

I frequently report on scams aimed at seniors.  They usually look a lot alike. But recently Mom experienced one that was a bit different. It went something like this:

Caller: "Hello, I'm calling from Readers' Digest about your recent order."

Mom (who orders RD for my brother every Christmas):  "Is there a problem?"

Caller: "No problem with your order, but prices are going up considerably next month. You might want to lock in today's price by renewing your subscription for several years. I can offer you a two-year renewal for $47.50. Which credit card would you like to put that on?"

Mom:  "I think I put it on my Visa."

Caller: "Can you give me that number again? Let me make sure I have it right."

Mom went to get her credit card and then thought better of it. She told the caller she wasn't interested. He tried some more to cajole the number from her, but fortunately she remembered what I've told her and hung up.

Friends, please tell you parents to be careful with calls from strangers. Just because someone says he's from a company you know or even do business with doesn't mean he really is. When in doubt, have your mom ask for a number she can call the person back on. They will probably refuse or say you can’t get that rep back, but in that case, I wouldn’t continue the conversation.

This caller happened to luck out since Mom actually had just ordered a subscription renewal. But by using the name of an established and well-known company familiar to that generation, he gained access and got her talking. I'm sure that in the course of the conversation, she gave him enough information for a clever person to maneuver and get the prize he wanted--her credit card number. Had we not so recently had the conversation, I'm sure she would have given it to him.  

Please have the conversation frequently, and if your parent is on the Internet, also talk to them about phishing. Some of those emails look real enough to fool even me. That generation grew up on trust and honesty. Trying to learn the skill of wisdom is harder for them.

Photo courtesy of Flickr/library_of_congress