I am from Houston and have many friends and family there so I’ve been glued to news reports about Hurricane Harvey. Many pictures show people wading through waist-deep water clutching their pets. I saw one woman floating with her poodle on an air mattress and a man carrying his large dog across his shoulders. I was so relieved to see the valiant rescuers making room in their boats and trucks for the animals. Those of us who love our pets consider them family members. I can’t imagine how heartbreaking it would be to have to leave them behind. (more…)
In our youth obsessed culture we don’t talk much about death even though it is something 100% of us face. Many of us die in hospitals or nursing homes, removed from view. Even the word “death” is sanitized. Instead of saying someone has died, we say that person has “passed away” or “departed.” As a result of our avoidance and discomfort with the subject, we are often profoundly unprepared to aid people we love when they are grieving the death of a loved one. Here are some things to keep in mind. (more…)
I was standing in a checkout line when I heard a man talking loudly on his cell phone. “Remind me never to come shopping with my mother again!” he was complaining to his hapless listener. I looked around and saw the elderly woman who was the subject of his diatribe. She was moving slowly and dawdling over her selections as he stood scowling and impatiently tapping his foot. I felt a rush of compassion for her and hoped she hadn’t heard his boorish comments. I wondered what he had to do that was so important and thought how much I would give to have the chance to go shopping with my mother again. (more…)
I knew I was in a world of trouble when I flew up to visit my elderly mother who lived 700 miles away. I was a Case Manager in Rehabilitation. My job involved coordinating care for people with various disabilities and I noticed changes in Mom that sent up all the red flags. I was an only child. What was I going to do? I had a job and career 700 miles away. . .
This dreary January day finds me in Houston helping a long-time friend complete her move to a smaller home. Sally is downsizing because she recently had to move her husband, ravaged by the effects of dementia for several years, to a safer environment. It has been a difficult transition for her not only because she is adjusting to living alone again but also because she has had to shed so many possessions. (more…)
You haven’t heard from me in awhile because I’ve been traveling and writing from the road was a lot harder than I thought it would be. This post has nothing to do with aging except for the fact I never thought I would see what is occurring in our United States. (more…)
We spend a great deal of our adult lives taking care of business and preparing for the future. We think about our plans for “someday” but our focus is on paying bills, raising children, building careers and establishing our place in the community. Then, in what seems like the blink of an eye in hindsight, you wake up to find the kids have grown up, the roots are down and you’re at retirement age. Someday has arrived. Now what? (more…)
“Do you need help with that?” asked the pleasant teenager who had bagged my groceries. “No thanks, I’ve got it,” I replied as I reached for the handles of my canvas totes. His next words caught me by surprise. “Are you sure?” he asked with a doubtful look on his face. The first retort that came to mind was, “Do I look feeble to you, kid?” Which was followed immediately by the thought, “Oh crap, maybe I do!”
I was 32 when my father died after a long struggle with cancer. Because he was ill for so long we had time to spend together saying what needed to be said. In essence, we grieved his death together. After he was gone I missed him terribly but my attention turned to meeting the needs of my mother and helping her adjust to life as a widow. When she died suddenly 11 years later I was totally unprepared for the devastating sense of loss I experienced. It wasn’t that I loved my mother more than I loved my dad. It was because it suddenly hit me that I was no longer anyone’s daughter. I was an orphan. (more…)
And you—what of your rushed and useful life?
Imagine setting it all down—papers, plans, appointments, everything—leaving only a note:
“Gone to the fields to be lovely.
Be back when I’m through blooming.”
—from Camas Lilies by Lynn Ungar