- What you think you know is not enough – there’s a “knowing-doing” gap. Make a deal with those you trust that you’ll heel when they yank your leash because you’re not doing what’s required to care for yourself. Negotiate this upfront. In the thick of things is too late.
- Remember the drowning data and consider your own triggers. I realized mine but only in hindsight. Do it now so you can keep them top of mind.
- Don’t let your spouse stand alone. Yes, they signed up for thick and thin, sickness and health, and they’re most likely willing to do it. But don’t make them watch you throw your health away. They didn’t sign up for that.
Is It Really All Random? Headline Animator
I try to pinpoint words that when strung together, like beads in a necklace, express something with texture and richness; I hope for the occasional sparkle of a well placed gem. I frequently fail miserably. But on a good day, as with a candid photo, I unexpectedly capture a heartbeat, and it feels as if I've successfully seized fog with my hands.
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Friday, August 23, 2013
This CNN article (follow the link below) wraps up the issue. I have to wonder whether the same outcome might have been achieved without the damage done. In reading the plaintiff's comments, she appears to be a good woman who wanted a better environment for her colleagues. I'll take her at her word that she attempted to bring issues to her employers' attention. And I'll take Ms. Deen's word that she didn't know, does now, will review and improve her operations.
It just seems like we could have gotten here without pummeling a reputation. Media, money, rush to judgment, and reactive public opinion all seem to be bigger contributors to the dismantling of the Paula Deen brand than the principals and issues in the lawsuit.
Friday, August 16, 2013
A few tweaks since last visiting. Love that woman's spirit. "Powered by Inspiration".
I was struck by the story she told yesterday, the photo she posted, and her dive into the tradition of her annual pilgrimage to Cape Cod to visit her family.
I hope you enjoy it too.
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Within 30 minutes of arriving at the ER I was told Dad had a tumor that covered half of his brain. He snored with his usual roar on the gurney next to us as the doctor spoke to me. I repeated the words to my mother who sat in stunned silence in the waiting room. I called my husband, my elder brother, then my son. Brother One phoned Brother Two.
I didn’t ask anyone to do what I was willing to do and didn’t expect out-of-county and out-of-state brothers to equal my assistance minute for minute when mile for mile they were further away. I was explicit in saying this.
But I thought we’d find geographic parody, each doing what he could from his corner.
greater, Brother One stepped up his support, coming from Arizona at scheduled intervals while Brother Two’s assist slowed to a trickle. His wife said we lived too far away to help. She'd need to drive an hour.
He was warm. Kind. He smiled. Nodded in understanding. He did not answer and I wouldn't hear what was in the silence.
Then I emailed.
While he offered none I devised excuses for him.
I could fool myself no longer. It didn’t matter the reason. He wouldn’t be part of the care team. It wasn’t about distance. Or ease. Or schedule.
I promised me I'd keep him out of mind, prevent myself from inventing relationship that was not there; I'd stop expecting or hoping. Or agonizing.
If I thought of him by accident, I ordered myself to stop. To make the pain go away.
I was wrong.
Mom spoke for the last time. “My baby,” she whispered when she saw him.
Just not my family.
As time has passed and others tell me their stories, I hear a version of this one again and again. Questions left unanswered. Dreams and expectations dashed; disappointment deposited instead.
I don't pretend to understand. Why, if a chance exists that the journey could be made easier, do families not use each other as a splint to prop the broken spirit? Why splinter, fracture, and wither away?
Do they come back together again? And heal?
I hope so. I don't like being wrong.
Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Not to make light, but you can imagine how many times flags passed and the Anthem played on July 4th at the state’s largest parade! My grandmother was a veritable jumping bean. I was amazed at the reflex action that snapped her into position without hesitation, never a haw, from start to finish. My dad – her son, and my brothers and I followed her lead. Without question. Because it was proper. For with her on that day, we were patriots, too, thanking men and women everywhere and through the years, for the gift of freedom. Acknowledging our flag, and “the nation for which it stands”.
Thursday, June 27, 2013
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
It has a clear, maybe not simple, definition for me. It’s the reputation I have with myself. Who I say I am. What I’m proud of. My talents, skills, competencies; the roles I play. My perception of my weaknesses and strengths. How I see beauty and success, and why. What I value, what I believe. And key personal, historical components that have contributed to my thoughts about how the world works, who I am in it, and what’s possible for me. That’s my identity.
|©pamela hester king|
I won’t give feedback or information that ‘deconstructs’ identity if in my opinion the situation is such that it’s impossible for the person on the receiving end to restore their reputation with self, or build a new one. If they can’t somehow make things right for themselves.
|©pamela hester king|
I coach communication so I was a logical choice for help. We were old friends; I knew her mom and had a deep understanding of the issues that troubled my friend. But there was a rub for me. If I helped my friend say what she wanted, I’d likely also undo the accomplishment of which her mom was most proud – she had tried to be a good mother. Believed she had been. Thought she raised her daughter well, with love and advantages, and was leaving to her only child a large estate to secure her daughter’s future and that of her grandsons.
Giving my friend the benefit of the doubt, I’ll say she planned to be compassionate in the conversation. I still said no. Would not do it. Not under the circumstances. There was no time left to work through things. For her mother to refurbish her reputation with herself as having done right by her daughter, let alone time to shift her daughter’s opinion.
My decision caused a rift. My friend was angry with me. Felt deserted in a time of need. All the things she needed to say before her mother’s passing might never be said.
I understand her point of view better now.
|©pamela hester king|
But that is how I thought, and think today. If there’s no opportunity to restore or rebuild, I won’t be party to sending someone off whose identity has been upended, and may be left to believe they were not who they strived to be through a lifetime so someone else feels better. It serves no one. It has its own fall out for those who remain behind. One burden lessened while another takes its place…
We protected them with our money. We protected them by doing things that may have been better handled professionally had more resources been available; we protected them by filling in as many blanks as necessary so they were never without, sometimes to our own detriment.
We protected them from gaining the knowledge that they worked a lifetime to wind up insolvent. We could not bear the pain that would be caused for them were they fully in the know, especially my dad whose identity in part consisted of being a good provider.
They had lost the dream of aging and dying in their own home. Were reconciled with great difficulty to the knowledge they would not be leaving much to their children; for them a final picture of meaningful parenting had died. I couldn’t tell the entire, unvarnished truth of their circumstances. Couldn’t handle taking anything else away. Even an illusion.
We managed the facts in small bits, without lying. But without fully truthing either. It was a protection racket.
And then it finally became necessary to ensure their future well-being with the move to Arizona where they would have the benefit of the ALTCS program if needed. I wrote about that a few weeks ago in, Working the System.
Mom called the move her extradition from California. She thought I was too tired to continue caring for them as the primary custodial child. Thought I didn’t love her enough to do the hard stuff anymore. She was disappointed, angry and sad. Afraid to leave what little she had that was familiar.
I highlighted all the reasons why the move was good. Better weather. Close to my brother. A larger apartment with more amenities. Bigger resident population with less dementia so more real peers, companions, and activities. Things which were important to her. As my brother had done when they lived near me, I planned to come monthly to visit. She would have one child near her and the other visiting. The reverse of what we’d done in California.
But the most important piece of information was held back except for the words, “You’ll never have to worry about your financial future.”
Though my brother and I never stopped worrying, I don’t know that they ever did, we'd protected them so well.
|©pamela hester king|
My mom fretted.
I told her it was our last great adventure together as a family. We spent part of my
childhood moving from city to city because of Dad’s work. And here we were again, blazing a trail, learning a new town, making new friends, adapting, just as she'd taught us.
She was not appeased.
I kept wondering whether we’d, I'd, protected Mom too much. In my fervor to help them maintain their identities as sovereign, responsible adults, she had no real context for the move. She was a native born San Franciscan. Californian to the core and was being asked to surrender one more piece of her history. Of herself. The protection bill had come due. My mother would not, could not, did not understand.
If my father understood more than was said I don’t know. He cooperated, even seemed a little excited, until the evening before the move during which he cried out in his sleep, became restless then finally remained awake and disoriented for the rest of the night.
|A lifetime of love, Mom & cousin|
When Mom said good-bye to her favorite cousin the week before we left for Arizona, they both knew realistically, it was forever. It wasn't easy. There was no protection from that.
The move itself, on December 1, went smoothly. Mom helped unpack and directed furniture placement. She appeared to recover some enthusiasm for her living situation, except for the new laundry routine. She vigorously disapproved of the weekly schedule and told me so on the phone twice daily for a week after I left. When I distracted her with a planned shopping trip upon my next visit and she was nearly restored, temporarily.
I left her on December 5, my air travel ticket already secured for a return trip immediately after Christmas. She had her Christmas lights and ornaments and my sister-in-law to help decorate their suite. I ordered a wreath for their door.
Mom asked me what I wanted for Christmas. As ever, she didn’t get it.
“I want you to scout every nook and cranny of this building so that when I come back you can give me a tour, show me everything they have here and introduce me to your new friends. That’s what I want for Christmas.” I hugged her and said, “I love you,” her tiny body lost in my bear hug. She nodded, waited and watched as I walked down the hallway to the exit.
|Mom & Brother|
Ten days later she was in the hospital. Ten more in hospice. Five and she was gone.
Had I protected her right out of life? Broken her heart with what she didn't know? I don’t have the answer.
Nobody talks about this aspect of elder care. We talk about self-care (I’ll get to that), we talk about social services (I did that in Working the System) but the place where I started, No One Knows How to Do This, well, I know less now than when I began the journey. How to help with adjustments and loss of independence and the different, difficult crises that emerge on the way to the end.
I don't know that if I'd done everything perfectly it would have made a difference. I can't always tell what's out of my hands. I ask myself some of the same questions even now that there's only Dad to care for. What should I tell him? What should I demand from him in participation because it's good for him and protection only serves to weaken him? I don't know. I say that more often than ever.
I did the best I knew, as did my brother. We need to protect our own identities, too, from second-guessing ourselves. From not being able to shield our parents completely from the pain of withering away.
But that never was assigned to us. We took it on.
We try to protect ourselves from wishing we were more than only human, with mere human power and limits.