It is a gift of our fulltime travels that we’re able to spend a chunk of time with them each year. And frankly, it’s also stressful and exhausting. The first week we were here, in early February, I bought myself a mug emblazoned with the word “CALM.” I’m obviously desperate when I’m looking to my coffee mug for reassurance.
The Challenges Of Caring For Elderly Parents
Being with elderly parents is all-consuming. I have spent countless hours navigating the unfamiliar waters of elder care, getting help for my parents who still don’t think they need help. But when I watch my dad counting out their pills, mention to him that it looks like a few are missing, and he responds, “Oh, it’s close enough!” or when we return from a few days away to find that one of them has fallen and is badly bruised, it’s clearly time for some outside help.
The trick is getting them to agree. I have learned to offer options to my dad in ways that don’t make him feel like he’s giving up his independence. I present ideas to him over and over again, with patience and respect, until he accepts them. My mom doesn’t get a vote. Without my dad, she would be in a nursing home.
I am grateful to Eric for all that he does, for his unending love and support and hard work in helping my folks. And for being able to laugh with me and with them, at this time in life that is tender and difficult and sometimes, embarrassing. Getting old is rarely pretty, and none of us knows how our particular journey is going to end.
Providing Support, As Best We Can
We’ve taken care of everything we can think of to keep my folks safe and to enable them to live in their home for as long as possible, from putting bright orange duct tape on thresholds and removing glass shower doors to arranging for home health care visits. There is now a walker standing by in the living room. They should both be using walkers, but they both refuse. My mother asks several times a day, “What is that damned thing? And why is it here?” My dad hangs his windbreaker on it.
Our days have been filled with doctor’s visits, financial meetings, setting up home health care, organizing their paperwork, hiring a housekeeper, deep cleaning, and clearing out a few more truckloads of random junk, including 200 rolls of wrapping paper and every gift bag and box that ever entered the house. I look around and realize that we’ve barely made a dent. But I like clearing stuff out. It gives me the illusion of control.
One of the unexpected benefits of fulltime travel is that it forces you to deal with the detritus of your life (unless you are paying for a storage unit and you have squirreled away your crap). Trust me, if you deal with your lifetime accumulation of paraphernalia now, you are paying it forward in ensuring peace of mind for those you will one day leave behind. It is daunting, time-consuming, and depressing to sort through other people’s stuff, no matter how much you love them.
Obviously, my plan for getting our blog up to date before we left Florida has fallen by the wayside, just as it did last year at this time. Last year, I wrote a much longer and more heartfelt post about our time with my folks. I still feel the same way—it is heartbreaking to witness the slow erosion of their once active and vital lives.
It Can Be Crazy-Making: And We’re Trying To Stay Sane
I find it interesting that the older people get, the more they seem to cling to life. My mom and dad used to say that their plan for leaving this world was to mix up a pitcher of martinis and walk out into the bay until their hats float. But when the home health care nurse asked my mom if she wanted to be resuscitated if they find her unresponsive, my mother roused herself from the sofa to yell, “Hell, yes!” My dad’s answer to the same question: “Well, wouldn’t everyone want to be brought back?”
As long as they’re happy in their home, and they’re reasonably safe, we’ll continue to support them in being there. I’m sad that we won’t be there tonight to say a blessing over dinner, holding hands as we share our gratitude for having this time together. And we were also more than ready to leave and to resume our lives, on our own terms. We’re thrilled to be taking off on all new adventures—the Finger Lakes, Maritimes, and New England await!
But you know me. First, I have a few belated posts—but they will be brief. I’m ready to move on.
Oh yes… I feel it all over again. Sending you much love and support. It’s a weird and difficult time, and of course, we all muddle through it somehow. Knitting helped me stay centered as I was helping my dad. And your mug is beautiful. I’d buy it even now, because who can’t use an extra dose of Calm in this world?
Kim, I remember when you were spending so much time with your dad in California during the last years of his life and how much support you were for him. My ‘Calm’ mug really does help! Thanks for the love. Hope you two are enjoying your beautiful beach home. oxoxo
You have stated so well the tragedy of the end of life, BLESS you both for your understanding of the trials. Look forward to the joy of travel ahead and the memories just shared. Caregiver job is exhausting but one blessing is home care does not have the emotional ties and many times they get further with assistance than family.
My Mom spent 3 months in the dead of winter in New Brunswick, she informed my younger brother she was going home, the DOCTOR said I could, his kind response was, ‘well, if he thinks it’s OK, could you ask him to come to stay a few days with you’!!!! It lasted long enough for her to have a heart attack and a few months later a blocked bowel….but she was content she had those few months. ME, I am going to pick my facility and make a quilt I think if I can find my scissors and know how to thread my bobbin…..
See you both soon, lemon pie on the menu….again, calm in the morning is good…I gave one away that said HOPE on it…
A really lovely read though hard for you to write I’m sure. If it’s any consolation it’s the same all over the world and really the best thing you can do is what you’re doing. Love, support, make sure they’re reasonably safe and don’t judge (at least not in front of them!!) . Your parents were such a good looking young couple – straight out of a movie! Love to read of your continuing travels. We won’t be in America this year – something different for us – trekking in the Himalayas, Nepal, where we will see Mt Everest for the first time. Wish us luck! Happy travels you too xoxo
I’m delighted to hear from you, Angela! Thank you for your kindness and your obvious understanding of the issue (don’t judge, at least in front of them, haha!). I think my folks were a good-looking young couple too—it always helps me to remember that they’ve had wonderful, long lives, even though these last years have not been glamorous.
Your travel plans are thrilling! I wish you would write a blog so that we could accompany you vicariously on your adventures. Big hugs to you both, safe travels, have a glorious time, and keep in touch!
Julie, my hope is that I’ll have the presence of mind and willingness to choose a nice assisted living facility for myself (and Eric) when the time comes. Preferably a place with lots of cool art activities, lectures, outings, and music. And good food! :-) See you guys soon!
Dear friends…..ahh it doesn’t get easier with age but the silver lining is having company along for the ride…especially the ones who can make us laugh! I am currently looking for two mugs for me a biker chick with a fuschia mohawk…and for John…one that says “Ask me about my stud fees”.
Trust that the universe will provide and protect your folks as you know your journey is with the care and compassion of the collective souls and stardust of our ancestors…it simply is… what it is…
Miss you both and hang on every word and image you post in your blog! There’s sanity in writing and making that “momentary stay against confusion” as Frost wrote. Be well and happy as you head into uncharted waters and the next adventure! We’ll be here as touchstones!
Diana, you said it perfectly—I think writing does help to make sense of the craziness of life. There is no good road map for this time in life, or at least, I haven’t found it. After doing everything we can possibly do, then I do have to just let go and trust.
We miss you guys, too. Having good friends along for the ride makes all the difference. Love you!
Girl, I feel ya. Both of my parents landed in the hospital with completely unrelated infections during our stay at the ranch. I was at the hospital eight days in a row. I feel so blessed to have been there, ready and able to help. Our departure day was met with muted excitement. It was so hard to leave them behind. Be kind to yourself, you’ve done all you can, all that they will let you do for them. It may not end with a pitcher of martinis (how civilized!) but it seems it will still be on their terms.
Oh wow, I had no idea that you went through so much with your parents right before leaving for your big European adventure! It must have been so stressful for you, and so difficult to leave. :-(
I appreciate your encouragement, Linda. I think you’re right, my folks are ending this journey on their own terms (as much as possible), which is what we want for them. They do enjoy their daily martinis and Manhattans, but they no longer think of walking out into the bay. :-))
This is another lovely but real picture of life written by a caring daughter. Laughter and tears. I sent a copy of it to our son and daughter-in-law who are dealing her mother’s similar challenges.
Sue, I didn’t realize that your son and daughter-in-law are still coping with her mom’s health issues. I wish them all the best, and hope our post will let them know they have company in this very challenging journey.
We’re looking forward to seeing you and Dave this summer. :-)
Always nice to hear about baby boomers’ aging parents, as we all have similar feelings and experiences! My folks will be married 70 years also in June; they live together in an assisted memory-care facility. Well said, thank you for sharing.
Terri, it sounds like you’ve experienced a similar situation with your parents. I wish my mom and dad would be willing to move to an assisted living facility. I agree, it’s good for us all to share our experiences. It helps.
I had to take time out of my crammed full schedule of preparing tax returns just so I could read how you were doing. How is it that you can still be funny even when you’re tired, frustrated, agitated and probably just about ready to throw that pie across the room? Whew. Thanks for sharing the difficult process of watching over your parents as they age. Now it’s time to get on the road and have some fun! Thinking of you!!
Thanks for taking the time to check in, Janet. I know how busy this time is for you! This has been a stressful and tiring last couple of months, and I think being able to laugh about some of the craziness helps.
I love that the home health care nurses have good senses of humor—I was afraid my mom was going to be so nasty that she would drive everyone away. She flips them off, tells them she wants them to leave, on and on. But everyone just laughs at her outrageousness and teases her back. And then she laughs, too. :-)
Wow…..so there really are still angels walking the earth. That’s as wondrous as the incredible photos you two post. And BTW, where did the adorable quilt come from in your photo? Did you quilt a raven and a chickadee???????????!!!!!
Absolutely impressive! 70 years, and I can only hope I should live so long. Our hearts are with. As you know, we’ve been going through a parallel process with Bruce’s mom exiting her home of 65+ years and entering a memory care center. She keeps asking when all of the guests will go home, meaning the other residents.
It is a journey, and one we don’t get much training for when we are younger. Once they are gone though, the positive memories eventually surface. Enjoy the next leg of your journey!
Sheila, 70 years is pretty impressive, isn’t it? My mom was 18 and my dad was 21 when they married. My dad still says he’s not sure if the marriage is going to last, LOL!
I know you and Bruce have been going through much of the same with his mom. So funny that she wants to know when the “guests” are going to go home! We have to laugh, right? Hope you two are doing well.
Growing old is not for the faint of heart and neither is having to deal with those aging. Sounds like you’ve handled it beautifully. I’m taking your advice and Al and I are heading back to CO this summer to deal with our storage units. We’ve talked with our children as to things they want and don’t want. We’ll see how much progress we make in June, and then after our WI visit with family we’ll return in the fall and go through things another time. Our one to two year RV living experiment has turned into six years with no near end in sight. Have fun this summer venturing into new territory.
You are so right, Ingrid—growing old is not easy for anyone involved! It’s kind of scary to see what might lie ahead for Eric or me…getting old rarely seems to end gracefully.
You’re doing your children a big favor in getting rid of the stuff in your storage units. We pared our big storage unit down to a tiny one and just kept artwork and things that we will want when we decide to settle down again…someday. Similar to you, our RV journey has turned into six years. Here’s to many more adventures for all of us!
You are right about life and pie being messy but also good and sweet. Your parents are fortunate to have you two.
Thanks, Deb. I burst out laughing when I dropped my phone into the pie and made a mess…it was such a perfect metaphor for our time there!
Hello Folks- Thanks for sharing the story about your parents Laurel, and how you and Eric endeavor to care for them.
It’s a touching tribute to the life you and your parents share together, made all the more poignant by the early photos of them. To calmer waters up ahead…..
Love, Tom & Georgina
Thanks, Tom & Georgina. So good to hear from you two. We were happy to be with my folks and to help them as much as we could, and now we’re delighted to be moving on to new adventures!
We’ll miss you two on Lopez this summer! Have a grand time. :-)
Reading your words and seeing those great photos of my Aunt Pat and Uncle Tink. Oh my gosh… deep breath. Shared the link with Sandy, Bucky, Mark, Paula and Pam. Thank you, Laurie, for this update. Love you. Kyle.
Oh, Kyle—I’m so happy to hear from you! I know, deep breath, right? I’ve found hundreds of old photos, so many memories of our childhoods and all of the experiences our families shared.
I’m grateful that Mom and Dad have had such good lives. It’s challenging now, but they’re in their home, and that’s what they want. Much love to you.
We are so, so sympathetic about all that you and Eric — and your mom and dad — are experiencing. The long, slow decline of aging is hard on everyone. Having been in a similar situation with Ken’s mom (she had symptoms of progressive dementia and inexorable physical decline over 5+ years until she passed), I can tell you that we had to make so many hard choices, and we second-guessed every one of them after the fact. Denying her the right to make her own choices was one of the hardest and certainly led to the most pushback! I don’t think there is any perfect path and certainly no perfect end result. You are handling it all with grace and giving your parents as much dignity as possible, while keeping your sense of humor, so that’s about the best outcome I can imagine.
Thank you for your kind words and support, Shannon. It sounds as though you and Ken had a very similar experience with his mom. Dementia is such a cruel disease. Truly, I’m hoping that my mom will go first so that she won’t be left behind. She would be horribly lost without my dad (unless she gets to the point where she doesn’t know him). Right now she knows all of us and wants to know where we are at all times!
We are doing our best to respect their wishes, but we’re also insisting on certain things that keep them safe. It takes so much work, and so much emotional energy to deal with this, as you know. I don’t think I could survive without being able to laugh at the absurdity of life.
Thanks for writing about joys and challenges with your parents. We are not there yet but will be some day. I want to make sure we are setup to be with them when they need us. We live remote from both our parents so we will have to relocate when they need us. I like your setup in that living in a camper allows you to be close but gives you space. I need to convince my wife this is a good setup in that we can have our personal belongings while being in the vicinity of our parents.
I appreciate your comment, Richard. One of the reasons we decided to travel fulltime is so that we could spend time with my parents and have our own comfortable space. We always stay in our trailer when we’re visiting my folks, even though they have a guest room. Having our trailer keeps us sane!
We spend a lot of time with them, including preparing nice dinners every night, happy hour every afternoon, morning coffee, and lots of projects. But when we’re with them in the house we don’t have a moment or a thought to ourselves—I wouldn’t last more than a couple of days if we didn’t have our trailer to retreat to.
So yes, an RV is a very, very good idea. :-))
Life IS messy, that is so true! I love the dichotomy of your coffee mug. Those old photos of your folks are marvelous. What a stunning couple and what a ride they’ve had! Their spirit and tenacity is well-represented in you. Your mom giving the bird HA! I know the times with your parents evoke a huge mix of conflicting emotions, and it is a blessing to us, your readers, that you share them with us.
Joodie, my mom and dad definitely have had wonderful lives—they worked hard and played hard, and have loved each other all these years, truly ‘for better or for worse.’ As you said, being with them brings up all kinds of conflicting emotions for me—I’m feeling much better this year since we were able to get some support in place for when we’re not there.
My mother is feisty, that’s for sure. I was relieved to discover that the home health care nurses are resilient. :-))
Your post brings back so many memories of dealing with our parents in a similar circumstance. Just wish we had not been working so we could have spent more time with them as you have been able to do, but that is life.
Your parents’ responses to the resuscitation question were very thought provoking. At least you know they aren’t depressed and wishing for their lives to be over.
And your pie looks delicious in spite of the phone mishap :-)
Haha, I didn’t think of it that way, but you’re right, Gayle! I don’t think my folks are depressed. As far as I can tell, they want to live forever.
Seriously, I’m grateful that they’re doing as well as they are and that they’re still able to be in their home. And I’m glad that our travels have enabled us to spend as much time with them as we have. It’s been good in so many ways, to have leisurely time with them, and to also have the time to take care of stuff that needs to get done. We’re ready for a break now. :-)
Hang in there! What you are giving them is precious. I understand too well what you’re going through. ❤️ It’s a bittersweet time for sure.
Renee, I think ‘bittersweet’ is the perfect word. I’m so grateful that we’re able to do this for them. Thanks for your kind words of encouragement!
Watching parents age is difficult. I am glad my mother realized that she needs a single floor place to live with her knees. It would be unpleasant to have to “push” her that way. It sounds like you were the perfect daughter with “helping” your parents make decisions about their future. It was so important that you let them feel comfortable with the changes. This will make things workout for them. It’s too bad we both do our main living on the opposite side of the country. I can only imagine how much cleaning out you had to do. We need to keep this in mind now that we are more settled with space. But neither of us have ever been savers or shoppers. Another beautiful post sharing your lovely parents. I loved the early photos. Thanks for sharing:)
Pam, you were lucky that your mom made the decision on her own to move into a suitable place. My dad and mom built their home on the bay, and he has no intention of leaving, ever.
This year was the first time that my dad agreed to have outside help, and it was only because I told their doctor about the situation before we went for an appointment and he wrote a prescription for home health care. Even then, it took weeks of me convincing my dad that it was a good idea. I’ve done a lot of ‘helping’ behind the scenes. It’s exhausting.
Thanks for your support. And yes, don’t accumulate anything that you don’t need and love! :))
I know you are worn out, exhausted, and ready to move on, and you, unquestionably, deserve that. I just hope you realize what a service you are doing for others by sharing these heart wrenching, thought provoking, and insightful words. I’m sure it is therapeutic for you to write them, but it is so incredibly helpful to anyone going through a tough time to know they are not alone. So many of us can, unfortunately, relate to these issues and, in all likelihood, those who can’t relate right now, will relate to them someday. By sharing your thoughts with so many others, you are undoubtedly helping many, many people.
You two have done an unbelievable job helping your parents manage their ever-more-complicated situation, while still respecting their wishes. You’ve made enormous progress on multiple fronts and, whether they truly understand it or not, they are so much better off because of your efforts. (Don’t give up on the walker/coat rack just yet… you never know!!) At this point, you deserve a lengthy, relaxing break, and all the fun the east coast can send your way.
I’d also suggest a large glass of wine. For maximum effect, you can drink it right out of your new mug!
Oh, Laura, you of all people know just how exhausting this time has been! You went through so much with your mom, and you spent so much time flying back and forth across the country, which was much harder than what we’ve had to deal with.
I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your texts and emails the past couple of months encouraging me to take breaks from the parental care vortex. My ‘Calm’ mug can only do so much!
It does feel great—and it’s a huge relief—to know that we accomplished so much this time. I’m glad if any of this can help anyone else. None of us are getting out of this life without facing these kinds of challenges, and it’s good to throw each other a life preserver. Hugs to you, too!
I love the sweet pictures of your mom and dad–both current and historic. Thank you for sharing the journey with us. It reminds me of the hours I spent trying to “fix” things for my folks and arguing with my dad, the retired airline pilot, that he needed help, in the face of his insistence that he was “fine!” I had to keep reminding myself, “Wimps don’t land DC-10s”. Such strength and force of character.
And may all your Key Lime Pie have cell phone divots…or not.
Nancy, your experience with your dad mirrors my experience with mine! They were obviously cut from the same cloth. :-) My dad constantly tells me he’s fine, too—even when I watched him do a face plant onto the concrete garage floor because he “doesn’t need a walker or cane.” I do admire his strength of will and I know that’s what is keeping him going. More power to him!
I had to laugh when I dropped my phone into the pie that I had so carefully made. What a life lesson, from pie, no less!
Lordy, I feel your pain. The dropping of the cell phone into the pie is fitting! Wishing your parents “smooth” sailing and the two of you a peaceful and enriching summer in the east.
Lisa, I know you understand after what you went through with your mom. I hope your dad continues to do well! Thanks for your good wishes for my folks—I’m trusting the support they’re getting now will make life easier for them (even though they think they don’t need it).
And we are so excited about our upcoming travels! Lots of new adventures ahead. Hope you have a glorious spring in Prescott!
Not only are you a beautiful person, but you have assembled a beautiful group of friends who speak so eloquently to your life right now. You are a good daughter, a good friend, a thoughtful person. I am so glad that we got to see all this in person with our short visit in Apalachicola. I am so sorry for all the difficulty and yet also glad that you are able to get back on the road moving toward something that will nurture the two of you with beautiful sights, birds, trails, trees, and that you can step away from the complexity at least a little bit. I know it won’t go away, but somehow it will feel a little bit less overwhelming with distance. I only know this because of my 4 kids. Sometimes their problems are overwhelming, but not quite as much so when they are a few hours away as they were when they were next door and I was right in the middle of it. Take care and travel safe.
Oh, Sue—thank you so much for your loving comment. We’re so grateful for the wonderful friends we have, you and Mo included! I’m glad we finally were able to meet up—so funny that it was in Apalachicola instead of Oregon. But now we know we’ll get to see you in Oregon—and kayak the Wood River together, right? :)
We’re very excited about our upcoming adventures on the east coast. As you said, we need a bit of distance right now from our immersion in my parents’ lives. Knowing that we’ve done all we can for them frees us up tremendously. Enjoy the gorgeous spring in southern Oregon!
Most of us at this age have gone thru similar experiences dealing with our aging and stubborn parents. Isn’t it funny that the roles have reversed now that we are the ones worrying about them? Being stubborn and remaining to be independent are good signs that they are still at it and enjoying their lives as it is whether we like it or not. Their ways are set and had been for 70 years!
I sure hope you have done what you could to keep you from worrying about them as you start your trek for this year.
Having an understanding and patient Eric helps lighten the situation. You are such a good daughter and I know your parents appreciate you very much.
I see a bit of you looking at your mom’s photo, beautiful!
MonaLiza, I remember what you went through with your mom in her later years. And you had to travel all the way to the Philippines! Florida is easy compared to that trip.
I agree with you that stubbornness and wanting to remain independent can be beneficial. But as you know, there comes a time when being willing to accept a little help is essential! I’ve convinced my dad that the people coming in to help are his ‘team’ and that they will enable him to remain independent. As you said, my folks are pretty set in their ways after 70 years of figuring out life on their terms. I must say, they’ve done really well.
Your post obviously resonated with many of us who share some or all of what you’re doing and feeling. LOL at the walker they should both be using :-) I agree that the families of fulltimers who have already done the deep purge are SO fortunate! After clearing out years of stuff for three parents and two godparents, I am happy that my kids won’t have that “pleasure”. That sunset is very poignant for the reality of their long lives together.
Getting back on the road is always bittersweet for us, but oh the joy of all that freedom laid out in front of you! Enjoy every minute.
Jodee, I think sooner or later all of us will have to face these issues. Growing older isn’t easy, and it’s made more complicated by living in a very small, relatively isolated town with few services. The good part is that people are unfailingly kind and everyone has been wonderfully helpful.
You’ve certainly done more than your share of cleaning out stuff for parents and godparents! Your kids are lucky that you’ve pared down your collection. :-)
You two have 30 days, give or take, to arrive at our door at Apple Valley Lake.
Then on to Magee Board Walk and the world’s greatest Bird Festival. I have been where you are with your parents, I refer to it as a “loving burden”….it is all of that.
Looking forward to spending time together. We will arrange Spring to have arrived by the time you are in Mid-Ohio.
Yours, Ed and Diana
Diana & Ed, you guys are such good friends!! Your term ‘loving burden’ is absolutely the perfect description of this time of life with my parents.
We’re looking forward to seeing you and to reconnecting for good conversation and wonderful birding adventures. We’ll see you very soon! oxoxo
I am so sorry you have this emotionally exhausting challenge with your parents, but it sounds as if you are keeping your sense of humor, which is key to surviving anything worrisome and stressful. I, too, like to throw things away (or donate them, if possible) in order to feel somewhat in control of a situation that feels overwhelming. We got rid of so many of our belongings when we moved in with my 85-year-old mother and now I am working on helping her get rid of unnecessary clutter. Really, who needs five crockpots?? :) I helped her go through all of my stepdad’s belongings and I recently helped my stepmom go through all of my dad’s items and my hope is that I have all my ducks in a row before my daughter ever has to deal with my “junk” after I’m gone. I’m sure it was bittersweet to say goodbye and head out on your next adventure, but it sounds like you accomplished a lot in your time there. Safe travels and have fun!!
Les, it sounds as though you’re getting lots of experience in clearing clutter. :-) I also donate everything possible, then recycle everything possible, and finally, take to the dump what remains. The amount of stuff that people can accumulate in a lifetime is astonishing.
It was definitely bittersweet to say goodbye, but everything we accomplished helped put my mind somewhat at ease. And we’re thrilled to be heading out on our travels!
So, so many hugs! I know you will continue to cherish them. What a lovely young couple!
Happy new trails to you and Eric.
Karen, thank you so much for the hugs and encouragement. It was wonderful meeting up with you and Krash in Cedar Key. Enjoy the rest of your time there and your journey home. Maybe we’ll catch up with you this summer in Michigan!
I feel your pain. Sending much love and support. Hope your travels this spring bring happiness and many surprises. Just made reservations @ Ochlockonee River St Pk for March 4&5 2020 on our way across the panhandle toward NOLA. Message me if you are going to be anywhere nearBuffalo on your finger lakes jaunt. We’ll be back in early June through Sept this year…
Thank you, Pat. We’re in Savannah for the Music Festival and loving it! Remembering meeting up with you two here last year. :-)
I think you’ll really enjoy Ochlockonee River SP next spring. Hope we can meet up with you and Shelly when we’re in the Finger Lakes region. Would be fun to see you!
Oh, Laurel. This post seems to join a swelling chorus…so many friends entering or exiting or struggling to keep head above the waves of this challenge. Whether parents are aging into longer years than ever before, whether dementia per se really is on the rise, or whether blogging simply allows for more sharing, I don’t know, but the effect reminds me of when Simone de Beauvoir published The Second Sex and all of a sudden millions of women realized it wasn’t just THEM. Reading your account, I feel the heartbreak, but also a kind of comfort: others who are in the same situation will recognize a kindred pilgrim on their road. And even though I’m not there myself, yet, I feel like I easily soon might be…and then I’ll know whom to talk to about this final stage of our “childhood.” Thank you for sharing. The photos of your young parents are such a wonderful reminder of who they are at heart
I appreciate your compassionate and thoughtful response, Gretchen. This is exactly how I’ve been feeling—it truly is the final stage of “childhood,” as my parents are now the ones needing care and guidance. Sweet moments, and also so difficult on so many levels. It helps me to know that I’m not alone in navigating this challenging life passage.
I also feel as though those early photos are a good reminder of the essence of who my folks are. I love the tangible reminders of how fully and happily they have lived. :-)
This post was chock-full of so many thoughts and emotions. This reminded me of our summer in Ohio with Terry’s parents. It was a struggle to get through that summer, do some serious purging of “stuff” that had accumulated for decades, paint, clean, clear dying trees, garden, can fruits and vegetables, etc. etc. Life is tough enough without throwing elder care into the mix. Your parents are so fortunate that you and Eric are able to make this journey every year and, although difficult, what a blessing that you have this time with them. Sending big hugs to you both.
Thanks for the hugs, LuAnn. I remember your time with Terry’s parents and how unbelievably much you did for them. I know if we lived near my parents that we could help them stay in their home indefinitely…but Florida is not where we want to live, and we have adventures that we want to do while we’re still able. There is no easy answer. :-(
Hope you guys are doing well. You must be getting excited about Portugal!
Sorry I’ve been absent from blogging lately but our lives got a little messy!! A blog from us coming up soon to explain!
We’ve both been there and done that!! It’s not easy and it doesn’t get easier! You sound like you’ve done all the right things and they are so lucky to have you.
I know what you said is true…clean out the storage building now!! Thanks for the nudge!!!
Good to hear from you Gerri—believe me, I understand just how messy life can be! Way more than just pie, LOL.
I know you’re right, this isn’t going to get any easier with my folks. I’m just trying to stay present and to do my best. It’s hard.
Mike from Big Bird’s Carpet Cleaning in Sierra Vista. I found your card recently and decided to check in. I cleaned your RV when it was in Bisbee. I hope all is well and am looking forward to your next visit. I really enjoyed the article on your parents and the photos of AZ.
What a nice surprise to hear from you, Mike. Of course, we remember you, and your kindness. :-) Hope you’re doing well. We look forward to seeing you next time we’re in the Sierra Vista or Bisbee area!
Great read. My family is dealing with my Gramps, who wants to stay in his home and doesn’t want some stranger in it taking care of things even once a week. Yet, he can’t make his own coffee, cook his own meals or take care of the banking. Nana took care of all of that. Guess we’ll muddle through it like everyone else. Seems like there’s got to be an easier way.
Uh-oh, sounds like you’re going through very similar challenges to what we’re going through, Brenda. I’m so sorry to hear about your grandpa. He obviously could use some help with daily living. There’s much to admire about that kind of pride and independence, but it can also create so much difficulty. We’re in the same boat as you are. :-(
We’ll all muddle through together. Big hugs to you.
Gosh do I know and feel what you’re writing here. Having been through several deaths (slow declines) and still dealing with elderly parents who remain it is never easy. It can be fulfilling, but exhausting and it is never easy. I would love to think that I’ll go peacefully when my time comes, but likely I will fight as everyone does. Perhaps it’s human nature. I’m looking forward to the freedom of the road again in your writings. Sounds like a fab summer route you have planned!
I know you understand, Nina, having faced your own challenges with elderly parents. We’re happy that we can spend time with my folks and we want to do everything possible to help them, but it truly is exhausting, physically and emotionally. It’s hard for me to let go of worrying about them, especially when things happen almost every day that are distressing. And now I’m trying to help from a distance. :-(
We’re slowly easing back into our travels—a week in Savannah has been good medicine!
My husband and I are laughing as I read your post out loud to him. He is remembering the many dumpsters of stuff that we threw away after his folks passed. My mother-in-law was a professional pack rat, child of the depression. What a gal! My heart goes out to you as you do this work. What a blessing for your parents and, in some way, I am sure, for you. Larry and I are heading east on a Harvest Host pathway. My Dad has broken his leg and has had multiple medical misadventures. Hard from a distance as you know. Luckily, with life on the road, I have no place to hide from myself so all of this challenges me to be my true-er self and to shed remnants of the lost child or Little Match Girl. We hope to be home long enough to get things settled for the moment and then head out. Thank you for your posts. They help with life!
Susan, I’m so glad that you and Larry can laugh about this. Eric and I have to laugh, or we wouldn’t be able to cope! Obviously, my mother and Larry’s mother belonged to the same professional pack rat club. As you said, there are blessings in spending time with my folks at this crossroads in life, but I would have to say cleaning out the massive amount of stuff they’ve accumulated isn’t one of them, LOL!
Wishing you all the best in your journey to help your dad (and I hope he recovers well). We hope to see you two in the fall!
Such a beautifully written post … I can so relate to it having just left my elderly parents.its draining and exhausting when one is with them and yet, I really miss them. I can’t wrote about my experiences as my mom is so private she would be mortified. I actually got to post a photo of her though this year and so far she hasn’t made me take it down. In our case it was my dad in denial but they almost waited too long to move to a senior care home. They finally did move on their own terms and it was quite an adjustment after living independently together in an apartment. To quote my mother “it sucks getting old”.
I read an incredible book on the topic of aging and care and highly highly recommend it:
By Atul Gawande
Love the photos of your parents from younger days. Good looking couple!
Peta, somehow I missed your comment. I’m so glad to have seen it now, as we’re currently dealing with more challenging times with my parents. You understand exactly how exhausting it is to be with elderly parents and to also miss them when we’re not together. It is difficult for everyone involved, it seems.
My parents don’t read my blog anymore so I can write whatever I want, LOL! Seriously, writing helps me process this experience, and I hope that what I write might actually be of benefit to others. We’re all in the same leaky boat.
I appreciate the book recommendation. I can use all the help I can get!
You write a beautiful blog and I am grateful to have been reminded of it by my friend Denise. We are just now embarking on our second full-time adventure and your posts fill me with the excitement of the open road, the connectedness of meeting new friends and sharing a different back porch with old ones. Most of all I am grateful to read your poignant descriptions of visits to mom and dad and finding the balance between your lives and theirs. The next years will be such for us and it often helps to have a familiar map. Thank you and continued Calm.
ps .. your pie looks delicious..
Imkelina, thank you for your kind comment. This has definitely been a challenging time for us, and every day brings new opportunities to try to find the balance between living our lives fully and helping my parents as much as possible. It sounds as though you have faced similar challenges.
I look forward to following your travels!
Thank you for your kind comments on our own blog. We are now enjoying Bandon, OR…will be in state for another month, than up to Washington for same. I wanted to share that we were also previous owners of an Arctic Fox…Loved the trailer. Spent some time at mfg…validated they are one fine towable. Unfortunately, we are motorized travelers, so towing was like swimming upstream. But we still believe Northwood Mfg puts out the best product. Look forward to reading all your future posts!