Dedicated To My Friend Dianne Cogar
This past week I have been reading more of Dianne’s poetrythan ever before. Why, you ask? Because…
This past week I have been reading more of Dianne’s poetry than ever before. Why, you ask? Because she writes about life. She writes about people. She writes from her heart and soul the same as I.
I have been lucky enough to have chatted with her over the phone and I am glad that I can call her one of my friends. She knows that I care for Al. She has also done this in her own family, been the head caregiver. She along with anyone who has taken care of elderly, disabled, or anything that others would consider out of the normal, know how tedious and tiring this job can be.
She also realized as you do that I pretty much go it alone. The Hospice number is always at hand for me, and I greatly appreciate this as I am treading some new waters I have not waded in before.
I stress over things that haven’t happened and you can call me one silly worry wart. I do because of caring for my brother and my father. I can’t help but wonder what will happen to me. I know I have said this before, but it weighs on my mind. No one wants to lose their memory. No one wants to become ill.
No one wants to end up as a stranger to their family. No one wants to die alone. Dianne has been writing poetry for years and this past week she has touched base on the caring for parents.
I was rummaging through U Tube waiting to give my brother his medications and bed time snack when I came across this video. It ripped at my heart as I could relate in so many patients I have cared for.
I don’t care how young you are. Some day you are going to forget things. You are going to wrinkle. You are going to get old no matter how much you exercise or pay to look young. And I can promise you that one day, you will die.
I guess what I am getting at is- take a moment. Look around in your busy life. Do you have grandparents that are lonely? Do you have an aunt or uncle, brother or sister who is disabled? Do you know someone in your corner of life that is all alone.
My saying I have had for 23 years as a caregiver is “ treat everyone like you want to be treated when you become old. Don’t forget the elderly and the disabled.”
Take a look at this video. It is in a foreign language but read the bottom, it is in English. If you have seen it before, watch it again. If you have never seen it, watch it and then take mental notes.
Thank-you Dianne Cogar so much for coming into my life at the time you did. It was meant to happen. You, my friends can find Dianne on Facebook. She writes for Blue Mountains Art Backyard. She has had her poetry published and I am always astounded at what comes out of her mind onto white pages.
Here is the video.
Is there something about elderly people that scares us younger ones? Is it the frail statue, or maybe the wrinkles. Could it be that they talk to much about the past and we don’t get it? Maybe they move too slow.
We are all going to get old. It is inevitable, it is going to happen. I live on what is known as Senior Lane. A short row of homes that on my side elderly live.
I know each person well enough to know their concerns in life. My one neighbor her children feel that she is not able to manage her money well enough. This may have some truth in it, but I think the adult kids have overstepped some. I know, Terry, mind your own business.
Don’t worry, I have not voiced my thoughts to these two sweethearts that live on either side of me. The one that I am speaking of gets outside with her electric lawn mower and mows her own yard. She plays in her flower garden. She is involved with her church activities. Her kids give her an allowance for spending money and pay her bills with her funds. Maybe it works out for everyone, but I think the elderly lady feels a bit abused.
If her church activities include some outing she has to go to her kids and explain why she wants some extra money. I only have heard the one side of this story, hers. Maybe hearing both sides would make more sense to me.
I know it reminds me of Al at the nursing home. He has most of his mind and hates it when the facility tells him what they think he should be able to have in his own room. They come to me and tell me to remove this or that. I thought Al was an adult and he pays a heap of money to have half that room.
Should we as the younger generation make their decisions for them? Is there a line that should not be crossed as long as the elderly are behaving with an alert mind?
My other neighbor, now I feel real sorry for her. She has Parkinson’s like Al does, but the only thing I notice is some slight shaking. I don’t believe she is as advanced as Al is. She has many more medical issues than my other neighbor. She goes to the doctor quite frequently. She is able to walk but tires easily. She lives alone also and fixes her own meals.
There are many times she may nibble on a bite here or there for a meal. She claims she just isn’t that hungry. Now her family is involved in a different way. If there is a vacation they insist that Mom goes along.
I have heard the neighbor tell her family she really doesn’t want to go on these trips. They tire her and she would rather rest in her own bed at night. They take no for an answer. When it comes to things around the house they aren’t there for her.
She tells me constantly that her grandkids don’t have time for her. They never come to see her. No one in her family mows her tiny yard. My son mows it and I wonder if it would be knee-high if he didn’t do this for her.
She weeps when my son finishes because she says she is ashamed that her family won’t help. So this family insists that if there are reunions, birthdays or vacations, Mom has to go. No ifs ands or buts.
I know how I feel when I am stressed out about Al. It takes everything I have inside to sometimes go visit. Not that I don’t want to see him, but I hate how I allow his emotions to suck me in. Pity takes over and a sadness looms over me.
When I don’t feel well, I sure wouldn’t mind a phone call or a knock at the door knowing someone cares enough to check on me. I don’t want to go out and socialize when I am under the weather.
We are all going to get old some day. Have you thought about what you want to have happen or not to happen? Do you want your finances taken over by your children? Who is going to take care of yard maintenance if you can’t do it?
Will you want to lean on your grandkids because they are family? Or will you and I look at them as they have their own lives to live and don’t want to bother with the old people. It is something to think about.
I know I do. I wonder how it will work out if I have to go live with my daughter one day. Will it be a problem with it being long-term? Will I interrupt their marriage? Will I try to run their lives like I did my own? Will I be able to adjust? Will they, when it is longer than a vacation?
I know that I don’t have the funds to live in an assisted living facility. I didn’t plan when I was younger. I wanted to be a stay-at-home mommy, and therefore I do not have this nice retirement today. I live month to month and hope for God to take care of what I can not.
I wish I would have thought things out when I was younger, but I don’t think many young people, newly married people, actually think about getting old. There are no retirements today like our parents had. 401’s are not secure, and stocks are like roller coaster. Maybe I should have done like our fore fathers did and hid my money under my old mattress. Keep a shot-gun beside my bed, and a guard dog outside my front door.
I don’t know what the answers are today. I just see what my neighbors go through and they are only two of millions. I wonder what their stories are……………
I forced myself to do something or not to do something today. I did not go see Al. You may think why would you force yourself that?
Well, I just needed the break. I had to take some time a way from the one thing that brings me down so quick. Not Al, of course, the facility itself.
Being in a facility can tend to take a way smiles and laughter. You walk in and immediately see elderly people sitting alone in wheelchairs. You may hear a few repeating the same sentence over and over. It seems they are talking to non-speaking walls.
Many sleep in their chairs or sit in their rooms waiting to eagerly go to bed or to a meal. So many sad faces. Lifeless bodies consuming a colorless chair with two big black ugly wheels.
Then I step into Al’s doorway. His roommate is quiet as usual, most likely sleeping with head tilted over in his wheelchair. Al is behind a divided curtain either picking his head, or crying or asleep in his bed.
I just couldn’t do it. I had to step back a way. I am struggling with the continuing of writing my two books. I wrote a new chapter to one of my books today, which by the way I have finally titled. I am on chapter 21, which I published today. It is now called A View Backwards.
It took me a large amount of time to write it. It isn’t that exciting of a chapter but my mind kept drifting elsewhere.When I completed the chapter, I made myself leave my four walls. I just got in my car and drove. I wound up going to some garage sales. I found one thing in three sales. It was a bed tray or you may call it a food tray that will go over Al’s lap while he is in bed. He can use it to prop his Bible and read or eat snacks or a meal on it if he is not feeling well.
On my fourth and last trip to the sales I found two things for me. I found a Redwood chicken. I like to collect chickens and roosters. I don’t have many, but I don’t like the modern silly looking ones. I like the oldies. Then I also found a clock. This clock took me back to six years ago. I was caring for a man and wife. I took care of them for three years, or maybe it was five in total, I can’t remember.
Anyways, he had this clock that hung above his television. I always admired it and the Mr. and I used to talk about it quite often. I am sure his is much older than mine and I believe his is a little bigger. I assume one of his children have it now as both of these dear people passed a way.
I prayed like a silly school girl that it was in my price range and that it worked. I was like a kid in a candy store, slobbering all over myself. I walked up to it ever so slowly. Afraid that it was out of my reach.
I touched it. It was a nice heavy clock compared to today’s clocks. I picked it up and ran my hands over the inlay and the mahogany. It felt so nice, like it belonged to me. He and I became friends instantly. I couldn’t put it down.
I asked the lady how much it was, and I thought my legs immediately turned to jelly. I could feel them wobbling as I knew I could afford it. I watched her gently take it in her arms and plug it in. Oh my, it worked also. I told her I would take it. I paid and smiled all the way to my car, like two old buddies had just reunited.
While I was sitting in the car admiring my prize I thought back to the man I had taken care of and how proud he was of this same clock. He had been in the war also. Each Memorial Day I took him to the cemetery to reunite with his friends.
He and I spent hours on those special weekends talking about his war days. I thought ahead to where Al is sitting right now and wondered how many of those empty faces are also veterans.
The stories that are locked inside their head would give me goose bumps when I think of what they did to save us. Maybe if we just took the time and visited these lonely veterans, we could relive some of what they went through.
There are shelves of books and broken chapters hidden deep inside. Willing to come out if only given the chance. My first husband served in the last few years of the Vietnam War. It seemed to me that it was more like a party for him instead of a war. The bad days were over, and life settled down. He was a policeman over in Stuttgart Germany, where I had the opportunity to live many years ago.
My second husband had no heirs so he didn’t go. My father had us children so he was never called. Al had no heirs so he never received the letter either. But thanks to the elderly I cared for so many years, I had a front row seat and got to see the movie in full living color.
God bless our Veterans. They are our heroes. So why do so many people shove them to the back corners of life and watch while they slowly sit in their wheelchairs waiting to die. Waiting for someone to say hello. Waiting, just waiting.
Every morning I put on the coffee and splash cold water on my face. Waking up my eyes and brain. Grabbing that fresh cup of java and sitting down in my comfy seat at my computer. This is what I love about waking up.
I am definitely not close to being perfect but for me talking to my friends on here is very important. There are many days the only ones I have conversations with other than myself are you.
Thoughts that twirl as mini tornadoes are no longer allowed to over come my day. I can place them here and set them free. I was concerned about my friend Julie who also blogs on here.
She had a post I read this morning about a friend of hers who is thinking heavily about placing a closed sign on her blog. The reason? bad or hurtful remarks being made by outsiders.
Not outsiders from our lives, but strangers passing through our blogs. I am guilty of this also. Words that I want to write I sometimes hesitate. I do this because I am a coward. Yes a coward of being able to stand up on my two feet. Afraid to let my words flow freely in case they may hurt someone, or maybe they will not understand what I am trying to say.
The last thing I love to do is trying to explain myself. I think when we write, our thoughts are very close to our lips and hearts. They spew out with ease. One of the things that I love to write about is aging people. Why? It is easy. I have worked with this category of humans for so many years.
They have become a part of my life. I tend to dream into the future and see my own person moving through the days. Where will I be? Will I have enough money to support myself? Will I still be alone when I am wrinkled and walking with difficult? Will I still be wanting to carry on conversations with my own head?
Yes I can see this and worse yet I have seen it many times. The elderly is not in a familiar class with younger generations. Whether it is a neighbor or family, we that are younger do not know what to say or how to act when we are in front of someone old or ill.
Then here is Al, his body pained but his mind still young. He is wanting their attention. He wants someone to stop and give him a moment of their time. These moments that I have seen over and over hurt me deeply.
You may or not be surprised at how many residents sit day after day with zero visitors. Family backs a way. I understand they don’t know what to say. It is awkward to see a loved one in a different setting than home.
How difficult is it to walk in and say nothing but a hello. To let the resident know that they are thought of. This I think we can all do. Fifteen minutes of your time out of a 24 hour period.
Between the years of experience caring for elderly, spending hours upon hours with my father and being closely involved with Al is what sets me apart from others. This is me, these patients have formed who I am. They are my future of looking in my own mirror.
When I was younger I had heard so many times that when we retire life is golden. Life is filled with travels, new friends and horseshoes and bingo. I agree for the fortunate few this is true. But for the other high percentage this is only a dream.
Broken hips cancers, loss of spouses can wipe out those dreams. They can place us in a pit of depression or leave us suddenly alone. It is the blink of the eye that is the dart of life. We can count on change and death but what we can’t guarantee is the quality of life that is measured from old and death.
So even though some may not understand or can’t figure out why a lot of my topics are about missing someone, aging and death, this is why. I will continue to write from my heart and soul, no matter what others say. Until they live through my eyes, feel and touch my heart maybe they will not understand my reasons. What I want most though until my end of life comes is acceptance.
To accept who each of us are is a gift. I want to take this present with me to my grave. I want to die with a smile on my face that shows I was happy, loved and at peace with the world.