Monday, May 20, 2013

Aging Parents=Motivation

I think one of the hardest things is to watch your parents age.


Or perhaps your parents are young but a disease or condition makes them look/act/behave older than their years (I can tell you that my mom has aged greatly since her stroke two years ago).

Or perhaps you’ve already lost one or more of your parents and you want to tell me to shut up and stop complaining about them because at least they are still here on this Earth. I recognize that feeling but I am still going to say my peace because it’s my blog.

I LOVE my parents. Sophie LOVES my parents. My parents are AWESOME and have done so much for me and Sophie. They gave up their ENTIRE LIVES to be here in the Midwest with us. And I can’t imagine my life without them though I know one day that will become my reality. Sophie, too, feels the same way: “I just can’t imagine what we’d do without Grandma and Papa!”
Sophie, me and my mom looking at the "Grandma" artwork and gift Sophie made for Mother's Day. Papa tried but is not the best photographer...

We don’t see them enough. Not nearly enough. They live 20 minutes away and Papa still works, most nights until 6pm, and Grandma doesn’t drive, and Papa’s commute is a lengthy one like mine. Therefore, it is hard for them to get to Sophie’s baseball games at 6pm and her play that lasts 20 minutes at 5:30pm…hell, it’s hard for ME to get us to those things and I am forced to work from home those days and it’s STILL hard to get fed, get dressed, get ready for such events. So usually, we only see them on Sundays when I have Sophie which equates to twice a month.

They gave up their lives to be close to us and we only see them twice a month. It makes me feel sad and guilty. But then I think of people who live down the street or in the same town from their parents and I wonder how often they see them – between Kid A running here and Kid B running there and Mom arranging carpool for Kid C’s cheerleading team and Dad getting to the office at 5:30am to be there for quirt’s soccer game at 5pm (or vice versa) – do the Grandparents come to every kid’s event? What if they have other grandchildren too? Also, I know this is totally, completely subjective as some people aren’t close to their parents at all. Or maybe you are but the Grandparents just don’t go to their grandchildren’s events because they have too many and they would be running around like crazy and they are old and retired and want to relax. Or maybe it’s just not their thing; it’s not what they do.

It’s also hard to hang out with my parents because my mom’s balance has decreased and walking can be difficult for her at times and impossible at others. I don’t know if I wrote about this or not but one day Sophie and I went with my mom to the mall and my mom was having issues with her leg and when I offered a wheelchair, she said yes and it freaked out Sophie. And so now Sophie refuses to go to the mall with Grandma because she’s scared my mom will end up in a wheelchair again. And as I was explaining this to then my co-worker Karla the other day, she said “Well I do understand Sophie’s hesitation and fear, but I think you also have to explain to her that lots of people in wheelchairs still get out and do things and live very happy, healthy and productive lives. And the truth of the matter is, that your mom IS aging, and her stroke HAS changed her physical abilities…” she said this all in a very kind way and I thought she had a good point.

Anyway, my original point was that it’s hard to find things to do with Grandma and Grandpa. We can’t go to the zoo or the botanical gardens or things like that because it’s too much walking for my mom. Not to mention that my step-dad can walk just fine, though he is slow, but I have never seen him do a lick of exercise once in his life. Honestly, he’s really lucky he looks so young and IS as healthy as he is (he turns 79 this July; my mom, 65 this August). My mom refuses to swim because she wears a wig and can’t get her hair wet and refuses to wear a bathing suit cap. Yet there are many summer days here in St. Louis that hit the 100 mark so hanging out by the pool while we swim is not always an option (even in the shade, even putting her feet in; there is only so much heat one can take unless one is fully submerged in water). Papa swims though and enjoys doing that with me and Sophie.

I worry about my mom because she just sits all day. She putters around the house. She doesn’t walk on her own because she’s scared of falling (a valid concern). Of course, I sit all day for work also as I’m tied to a computer. But I can pop out of my chair and refill my water bottle and race across the office to grab a cup of coffee…obviously, it’s a lot easier for me to get up and down than it is for my mom. And one day I will reach the age where it won’t be easy for me to get up and down.

I did suggest that my mom get a cane and Sophie chimed in with “They have some really pretty ones at Walgreens I saw last time I was there – I’d be glad to get you one, Grandma.” God that girl is so sweet. Waiting on Grandma – telling her to sit, I’ll get you fresh ice. Sit, I’ll grab your soda. Hold my hand, Grandma. Mommy, slow down and wait for us!

But I doubt my mom will get a cane. She’s too stubborn, too prideful. One day she might not have a choice. I would think she would want one to help her get around more efficiently.

There is really no point to this story; it’s just that being around them I was reflecting on my own mortality, and it’s also this book that I’m reading that I’m really enjoying but it too has me reflecting on my own mortality. It’s uncomfortable, to say the least.

I want to be healthy for my kids. For my grandkids. I want to be able to play soccer with them and jump around and swim and chase them. I won’t have as much energy as I do today. It already takes me a pot of coffee to get going in the morning – how will my intestines deal with more??

It wasn’t my mom’s fault she had a stroke. She didn’t plan this; didn’t want this to happen. Papa and I are convinced it was the stress of her job that pushed her system over the edge. We are not exaggerating. Pre-stroke, my mom would walk with a co-worker every day. She ate right. She was overweight, technically obese according to the BMI chart but then again so am I and I fucking hate that chart. (I wear a size 8 in pants and I’m—okay, wait. I’m not ‘obese’, I’m ‘overweight.’ So I guess size 8 is overweight. I guess I need to be a ‘6.’). (yeah yeah I know it’s not the size, it’s how much fat you have on your body).

Anyway, seeing all of this and thinking about all of this DID push me out of bed at 5am. It took me a while to get going; took beyond the 30 minutes I had planned to get going, but the point is I got up, I moved, I sweat. I got stinky (STINKY!). I only burned 220 fucking calories which is shit, especially because I want to have wine tonight. But that’s 220 calories more than I burned last Monday so there is that.

Last night as Sophie and I lay in bed saying our prayers, she ended with: “I just want us to be happy, healthy, safe, and live a long life. Is that too much to ask? That’s…(counting on fingers)…four things. Only four things. No, seriously, I’m asking: Is that too much to ask?”

Is it?

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