Category Archives: noticeable changes in habits

Grown-Ups Here

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We are all “grown ups” here, I hope! I realize there are occasional young

people that are part of the blogging community that may wander in and

read one of my posts. There are ones who are as young as high school or

college who may stop by. I believe anyone who is logged into wordpress

or have their own blog are able to hear about a wide variety of subject

matters, or make the choice to ‘move on.’ I also think everyone should

read other posts, just in case the first one is just not your ‘cup of tea.’

Today, I am not trying to ‘start something,’ nor wishing to add too much

controversy in your lives. I don’t wish to shake you up or create drama

that you aren’t interested in.

I am hoping for a conversation about relationships.

The working relationship between the characters of Boothe and Temperance,

in the television series, “Bones,” had a great quotation that I will try to paraphrase

to give its essence:

(Boothe to Bones)

“Our perceptions are always colored by what we want to believe and hope for.”

I will share just some recent things that have caused me to ‘draw conclusions’

on the subject of couples.

Everyone has read or seen the subject, “Signs You Need to Break-up,” on the

television, in articles and on talk shows. Dr. Oz, Dr. Phil, Judge Judy, all have

their opinions and judgments.

I always hope you (my friends and family) will know and make that choice on

your own.

There are times, though, that you may feel as a good friend or family member,

that you have a right to express your opinion. You are my ‘family’ of sorts and

I wish to share reasons I would ‘give up’ rather than ‘fight’ to stay in a rocky

relationship.

You sometimes know, instinctively, when you have heard a person tell you about

someone who seems a little bit “off” or “wrong” for that friend.

Here are some strange and real examples observed or told to me by friends.  .  .

When You Know Things Are Going Wrong or

When You Need to Dis-Connect:

1. Calling one of the members of your ‘couple’ (spouse/partner) “Selfish.”

This is something that I could not believe someone said recently around me.

In this case, I would need to find out why that person was being considered

‘selfish’ and tend to think the one who is ‘name-calling,’ may not be meeting

that other person’s needs.

2. Using derogatory comments, with possible swear words, in a group or

family setting.

In this time, I was at a play area, where the person said this to the other one,

in a loud voice, while children were playing near by.

This would be, truly, a cause for leaving someone. Sorry, I don’t play around

with ‘maybe’s!!’

3. When you walk into a home, where the people are not great-grandparents,

and there are two Lazy-Boy’s, side by side, with an end table in between.

I am wondering how long have these people been living on parallel chairs,

with no bodies touching?

4. One participant in a relationship, who is not open for any counseling nor

discussions about improvements. There is a big, final door shutting on this

couple, I hear about at work.

5. Shorter version, not open to friendly (not nagging) suggestions and gets

hurt and insulted ‘easily’ by the other member in the couple.

6. One excuse after another, even when there is no financial nor scheduling

challenges, for having a ‘date night’ and time away from children.

7. One excuse after another, for months on end, with no physical or emotional

reasons behind these excuses, (unfounded excuses) for refusing any kind of

intimacy.

I would recommend the frank and explicit film, “The Sessions.” Our library has

it, it is about a man who is a parapalegic who has sexual healing sessions with a

physical intimacy counselor, played by Helen Hunt. It is very touching, I cried. I

felt that someone who is fully capable of having romance, will realize that it is a

gift to be able to do so.

This was brought up in a painfully honest, step by step movie, on how to get the

‘spark’ back into your marriage, in “Hope Springs.” It is not, in any way, funny.

But so honest and brutally true of some couples with their lives on hold, for

whatever reason. (Tommy Lee Jones, Meryl Streep and Steve Carrell, in a

serious role as a counselor.)

8. In a shorter version of #6 and #7, one person ‘putting distance’ into a

relationship. There is something wrong, this needs to be fixed before it is

irreparably repaired or broken.

9. No ‘big’ secrets kept between members of a family.

10. There is an uneven distribution of ‘power’ or ‘control’ in the couple.

This can be quite upsetting, when you see one or both covering up this

but other times, the truth slips out. Control and abuse are both forgivable

situations for separation or divorce, in my mind.

(Not going to worry about the Bible, since there are not any passages to

support this. It is okay to leave if your partner leaves ‘first’ and you don’t

need to follow. This is the only example of infidelity being a reason for

leaving, that the Bible addresses. No words about if the person is being

abused, emotionally or physically.)

They fester, rot and eventually tear apart the foundation of trust and love.

There are many ways to have a wonderful relationship and it is no one’s

business but the two of you, unless it is a confidential, impartial member of

the clergy, physician, counselor, psychiatrist, psychologist or member of the

medical field.

My friend, Melvin, is not embarrassed to talk about how his girlfriend has

undergone different surgeries, outcomes of having cancer in her internal

‘private’ areas. He doesn’t broadcast them, but when she had a colostomy

bag, due to her having colon cancer, she and he dealt with this. When she

had an ileostomy, due to having something go seriously wrong with her

urinary tract, they managed to get through this, too. She has improved her

health, taken steps to have both chemo and radiation, so now the “stoma’s”

are the only physical remainders of her having both urine and fecal ‘bags.’

Melvin once confided in me, that he and his girlfriend have found ‘ways

around the different complications’ to ‘express their love for each other.’

After 15 years together, that is wonderful and admirable, that they realized

that they still needed to feel physically connected.

We have had a few comments back and forth, last summer when I brought

up that I was contemplating intimacy with a man I had dated for over a month.

I was hesitant, I gave a few humorous examples of how three women plus

myself had told on our more embarrassing parts of ‘growing older.’ That post,

with different stimulants, varied physical challenges ended with one of the

women sharing a strange and uncomfortable position. Anyway, hope that it

is okay to tell you that I agree with Melvin.

There should be ‘no limits’ to the ways you would engage in closeness, with

another person. As long as Both Parties are comfortable and agree. If there

are parts that are not satisfying, then being open to changing the parts but

adding something else to enhance the happy feelings and connectedness

one feels while engaged in romantic activities. When there are physical

challenges, “there are always alternatives for both parties involved,” my

friend Melvin shared with me.

After we talked out in the parking lot, Melvin asked me if I felt like we

should not have ‘stepped into this area of discussion,’ being friends and

coworkers. I felt very blessed and happy by knowing them. Melvin’s girl

friend and he were able to overcome their obstacles, working like a ‘team.’

I told him I had high hopes to have someone who treated me with the

same respect and consideration that the two of them expressed for

each other. They were ‘blessed’ for this union of lives together. I am so

happy that Melvin kept with Diane, despite these physical challenges.

Melvin then reminded me Diane no longer has them, since they hung

on, through it. He said,

“We may be not married, but we treat our feelings like ‘vows,’ and the

one about ‘for better or worse,’ continues to apply to us.”

 

I ended the ‘personal space’ dialogue by saying,

“Of all the things my parents talked about and what I learned from their

own personal lives, sex is not the weirdest topic covered!”

He burst out laughing and we got into our own separate cars. Happy to

have an open-minded friend to share some personal moments with, once

in awhile.

Recent Letters from Mom

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There are several people who are close to me, who I greatly admire,

that are caregivers to one or both of their parents. I have mentioned

my Mom moving from her (and Dad’s) Lake Erie cottage over a year

and a half ago. Mom had many choices of senior apartment centers.

These facilities have good safety practices in place, provide a more

interactive, “better” environment than living by herself.

She happened to (luckily) like the place that was almost directly across

the road from where my brothers and my sister in law live. The move

was definitely met with a deep sigh of relief when we had her there,

especially during the winter months! No worries about Mom falling on

unshoveled sidewalks nor icy steps out of her house!

I may have mentioned, more than once,  that we have corresponded

through the “snail mail” system since I went away to overnight camp,

college and moved away from home. I have been wanting to share

some of my mother’s noticeable changes and some of her wacky

character traits that have stayed the same. I enjoy her being a “wild

and crazy” 83 year old woman who is not just my Mom, but a dear

friend, too! She encouraged me always to be myself and to have a

spunky nature. She, on the other hand, has gone more towards being

full of “piss and vinegar!”

Mom’s letters have become erratic in their appearance and content.

I notice this especially since she uses a lot of dabs of white out along

with numerous misspellings and tangled words. Here is an example of

her attempting to spell the word, “survivor,” where you can tell, poor

thing, that she is sounding it out: “servyver.” I had to use the context

of the sentence to decipher it: “I am a servyver.”

Another sounding out and combining word sentence is describing her

favorite food from the dining room lately as “a huge sandsuage with

lettuce, tomato and onion.”  She later mentions by ordering this from

the (senior apartment center) dining room, it ensures she gets a lot of

beef! I can tell it is a combination of sandwich and sausage.  I wish to

point out that one sad part of her mind going just a bit is that she used

to do the crossword puzzles, up until the month she moved into her

apt. and had her minor heart attack. We could tell she was starting to

misplace things and she had bounced checks even before the medical

situation came along. All of this, is a little disheartening, remembering

her role as a teacher of English, Literature and Spanish. It is more

noticeable to me, not my brothers, who are no longer the recipients of

her letters.

She asked me after I left on my last visit in mid-September, in one of

her letters, “Did you take my key? I cannot find my checks nor my credit

card.”

My brothers and I have been trying to get her to establish a routine

with her keys, one is on a wrist band- the key to her apt. door. And the

other is on a lanyard, necklace around her neck- the outer door key.

I am sure because I have read some of your experiences on your blogs,

my older friends, that include this part of aging. This is both frustrating

and somewhat fascinating to see the parts that are held onto so tightly,

such as the distant past memories.

The threads that get most tangled up and show a complete loss of

understanding of basic functions are the saddest ones. I have to bite

my tongue when she repeats watering a plant within five or ten minutes

of the last time she did it. She wonders, aloud, why her plants seem to

“die more here” (meaning the center) than they did at home. I also,

have to not say a word, when for some inexplicable reason, she turns

the apt. key to the left, right, then left again to unlock it. Then, when she

is leaving, turns it to the right, left and then right again to lock it. This

new ritual is totally weird, to me!

She wrote in her letter last week, “They gave me another door key for

the one that got ‘lost.’ I just hope it doesn’t take off on me again!”

I guess I wish her “old” self were still able to write like she did because

I so enjoyed and treasured her letters! I did keep many which had

memories recounted, stories shared and her thoughts for many

years on all kinds of subjects! We even would carry on “debates” on

issues and also, would describe parts of shows to see if the other

managed to stay up ( and not fall asleep in the middle of them!) She

is much more of a “night owl” and thus, can sometimes ‘fill in the

blanks’ on our favorite shows. I have to remember the best blessing,

though, which several of my friends whose mothers have passed on,

that having her, no matter what shape her mind is in, that is the treat

and the pleasure. I also, know this is just the “tip of the iceberg” due

to her possible declining over time, both in mind and body…

On to the lighter, more funny side of Mom! She likes to daily order for

her dessert, chocolate ice cream and cookies “to go” which she saves

for guests and if we would like, we can take about 30 home with us

each month! My sister in law and brother sometimes take a few back

home across the street.  But the bulk of the cookies are all bagged up

and in the refrigerator for me!

Well, Mom was “dismayed” recently, written in her letter, that “They

are now cracking down on us residents and not allowing us to order

a dessert to eat and one to take back to our room.”

“I always told them,” she goes on (being a little sneaky and conniving)

to explain, “I need two cookies for my bedtime snack!”

Another totally funny (at least to me) direction she writes about is my

male friends and my different  dating experiences.

Here is how Mom addressed the recent turn of events with “new”

Mark. Also, the way it is going with my guy friends, Bill and Gary,

probably. She may also be referring to the Lenny fiasco! You never

know with my Mom! She keeps me guessing!

“Sorry about the beau dissapoinments. No fair! They took a lot of

your time. Guys just think of themselves!” (Yes, she misspelled the

word, “disappointments.”)

Another part of her letter to me,

“Don’t worry so much about being alone! I am fine being in my being

in aloneness. You will find things to occupy yourself. The dog makes

me feel useful, I sometimes sew and recently I take notes on the

lessons that are on the Catholic chanel, History chanel and some

science shows and I don’t know that chanel! I like watching the Hy-Sy

chanel, too.” (She missed “channel” and “Sy-Fy” which, even I,

occasionally write “Sci-Fy” instead.)

This next episode of her life, her trip to the grocery store on the bus,

may be amusing in its entirety.

“I filled my cart up with chocolate candies and dog chewies. I had to

get these since Nicki needs to use the few teeth she still has left in

her mouth. I bag up the candies for the servers in the dining room.

The kids like the candy and I like that they help me get my cookies and

a banana.  Then, at the check-pit: no credit card accepted except one

I don’t have—–So, I just left the stuff at the check-out. Said I was sorry.

What I wanted was unable to my taking home, what a waste of 2 hours!

I tried to think of the bus ride and the seerch for the items as some

form of an exercise.” (I think you will get the gist of what she was trying

to say without my pointing out spelling and syntax errors.)

Before Mom signed off on this letter about her grocery trip, she wrote

a thought someone else had suggested about the men in my life:

“Give the guys a foot to rump. (at least in imajunation!) And be aware

that is it their loss, not yours. You are speshul and happy weather to

you!

Love, Mom

Hugs! NIcki sends xxxxs!”

If you are taking care of a parent, other relative, are a home nursing or

hospice staff worker, you are very special indeed! I admire your strength

and courage to face this daily. I hope you will feel free to write some

helpful suggestions on how to stay in a positive frame of mind. I also,

wonder, how to help her with the keys and the credit card, checks and

money. We want to give her a little and yet, if we give more, it can be

lost, misplaced or stolen.

P. S. In the nursing home, where I was the Activities Director, we would

go to the office with the elderly clients, they would “sign out” their cash

and we (my activity assistant and I) would put the money in an envelope

to hold for them. Once at the store, we would help some of them choose

their purchases, then when checking out, we would pass the envelopes

to each person.

This worked well, but took a lot of supervision, time and energy. We

usually took 10-12 people in our wheelchair accessible bus. It amazes me,

when I think back upon those times. Maybe partly due to the fact I was

(10-14 years) younger at the time. But mostly due to the fact that we were

not related to any of them, it went so much more smoothly!!

Additional facts about Caregivers provided by the Family Caregiver Alliance:

44 million Americans provide unpaid care for an adult family member or

friend.

2/3rds of caregivers are women.

Average age of caregiver: 48 years old.

Average number of hours given during a week to caregiving: 21.9 hours.

70% of caregivers have to cut back on their profession or work, reducing to allow

more time to give care to their family member or friends.