Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Life Goes On

Life goes on when you are out of the loop. It is interesting how easy it is to get caught up in your own little world while the rest of the world keeps humming along. It happens to everyone. Families working multiple jobs to make ends meet while dealing with childcare issues don't have the energy to stay in the loop with the world around them. People are busy with their own lives and taking care of their families and don't have time to pay attention to local, state or world affairs.

I have a dear friend whose mother has Alzheimer's. She and her sisters jointly care for their dear mother in their homes. Mama stays with one daughter Friday through Tuesday and goes to the other daughter's home Tuesday through Friday. The daughters work together to provide Mama the love and care necessary to make her life livable and surrounded with love.

Family tragedies happen every day to someone or some one's family. People suffer emotionally and life goes on. For me, dealing with a parent who has had a stroke and lives two and a half hours away means a lot of windshield time and being away from home for days at a time. And it means being out of loop which is not the norm for me.

It is easy to lose track of local and national news when your daily life is consumed by doctors, nurses, therapists and a father who no longer can retain the smallest bit of information for longer than two seconds and doesn't understand what has happened to him. A life changes in a medical instant and results in life altering decisions for both my father and step mother who have been living independently in their own home. The emotional toll on everyone is huge.

Physical therapy makes my father's body stronger but speech therapy, music therapy, and occupational therapy cannot repair those breaks in his brain that impact his cognitive skills. Every piece of information must be delivered over and over again as he struggles to understand and comprehend who people are and how he once knew them. Routine gives him piece of mind and a visit can throw his routine completely off. Our visits are not hours, they are days because the thought of leaving him alone to struggle through his new situation is almost more than we all can bear. He doesn't want us to leave and worries about how he will get to the dining room, who will help him get dressed or get ready for bed. He doesn't understand why this has happened to him and why he can't go home.
Making life changing decisions regarding their lives means selling a home, finding places for them to live without each other, coming to the realization that you must now take on the parenting of a parent and realizing that it is now your turn to give back to your parent what they have given to you your entire life. That's why they call it "family."

Changing roles. Life goes on. It's just different now.


  1. A beautiful testimony on "how life changes" and encouragement to roll with the punches. Thank you for sharing this wonderful insight.

  2. Jen - You write beautifully and so true to the situation. This happens to so many of us who get to be the age where we deal with these situations. As you know, we've been thru a similar situation with David's father. But for me being so far away from my mother has been traumatic for me.
    Your Dad knows you care, and that's the important thing. I relish the stories I hear from other people about how much they enjoyed my mother and her sense of humor. With David and I living here in her apartment, I can hear her telling me things. I also bump into people who ask who I am and then say, "your mom was such a lovely and funny lady." We're enjoying meeting up with a bunch of older people who knew my mother. There's no way of postponing the inevitable, but enjoy what you can right now. Jill and Dave

  3. All we can truly hope for in such circumstance is courage to face it through the nucleus of family. I am very thankful that you have such a strong one.

  4. Jen I know your sister quite well, so I would like to comment that your written piece is very beautiful and shows your loving respect for your Dad! Beautifully written! Greetings to Pam. Chuck Olson

  5. Very well said, Jennifer! Daily we face trials(physical, mental, spiritual) and struggles unknown to others. But with the help of family and friends (our chosen family), we survive. I might add, that I have learned to treasure my friendships through tough times and know that they are with me for this journey we call life. Peace be journey to you and your family! Take Care