When I was in my 20s I thought that we (my family) would always be strong and healthy. The thought of agin never really crossed my mind. Yes, I had dealt with aging people in my day to day life but that was other people's families not my family.
Here I am 35 years later in my late 50s and have just experienced the passing of my dad. This was a first for my family. There are (were) five of us in my immediate family. For 50+ years it had always been mom, dad, brother, sister and me. I am the oldest of the three kids. In 1993 my nephew came along so he was an addition to the immediate family. Up until now we had never experienced the death of an immediate family member.
There was the usual turmoil getting the funeral together and a family member that came to the family home ravaging the house for any valuables. Dealing with this was tougher than the actual death of my dad. he had been sick for four years so we knew eventually he would pass away. Even with that knowledge his death seemed somewhat unexpected as his doctor told him he was doing well on his last visit about two months before his passing.
Now that the bulk of the duties have been completed... home title, bank accounts, social security, etc the next phase has begun. My mom! She is 80 years old and is blind from glaucoma. I have been living in the family home for four years to help out. Dad had two strokes four years ago and that's when I moved in. I work a full time job but dad was still well enough to make sure everything is safe in the house - so we did not need a caregiver for those days I would work. My brother (who works different days than I do) would come over when I was working - therefore there were only three days out of the week that they'd be alone for about six hours and dad kept an eye on things. But now dad is gone.
I had quite a few problems finding a caregiver at first. my mom decided she wanted one of her longtime friends to come by on those three days to stay with her. Her friend never showed up. This incensed me - but I remained calm and did not make any waves. There were four days that my mom stayed alone until I found someone that my mom would accept. My mom is very stubborn. I was a wreck those four days and had I not just come back to work from a 6 week leave of absence I would have called out sick to be with my mom.
Finally I have found a caregiver to stay with my sweet mom. but the sorrow and yes joy continues. It is so tough to see my mom in the condition that she's in. Back when she was in her 30s, 40s, 50s and even in her 60s she was such a beautiful vibrant woman. She was a true go-getter and had many friends in our community. I remember one of our family friends telling me that my mom was the smartest person she's ever known. the major of our city even tried convincing my mom to run for local office. She never did because her first priority was the family and the family business. I can tell you without my mom the family business would not have been half as successful as it was - she really knew how to network and get the ball rolling. she had (and still has) a great personality.
These days she rarely leaves the house and she cannot see and is deaf in one ear. Sometimes I think how much I will miss this cute little sweet lady. Most days I am saddened.
I ask how do I get my happiness back? I do I live as a caregiver to my aging mom yet still maintain a feeling of youthful abandon? How do I smile when I see her changing so much?