Tag Archives: aging

“Save for Retirement”

No other adage rings as true. At least that is now that I know someone facing the harsh reality of growing old.

DSCN0805Having my parents live with us has been quite a learning experience. I really had no idea what was in store for us last October when my husband and his two brothers packed up all my mom and dad’s earthy possessions and drove the u haul truck across country.

For one thing, I have learned what it is like to navigate through the endless paperwork and phone calls to establish social services. It has been my mom who has taken on that enormous (and ongoing) job. And we have been shown great kindness.

For instance, a dapper gentleman who reminds me of Jimmy Stewart volunteers every Thursday to stay with my dad so my mom can get out of the house for a few hours.

Sometimes we go to doctor’s appointments or other random errands. But  usually we end up at the local Goodwill store. Fortunately, even when we go crazy on a “spending spree” it only sets us back about twenty bucks (I love that place!).  Or we go to Baker’s Square and share a piece of pie. My mom tells me stories of the past. Stories I have never heard before of a time when she was younger than me.

Or we talk about my Dad.

“Do you think that he is worse?” she asks me over triple chocolate threat. His confusion and anxiety fluctuates each day. Some days he has a hard time figuring out where to sit to eat or gargling mouth wash six times in a day because he seemed to have forgotten he just did it.

The care giving is taking its toll on my mom. Yet, at the same time it has kept her strong, not succumbing to the Parkinson’s or Diabetes.

We have looked into a few nursing homes in the neighborhood for my dad. It would cost close to $6000 a month for him to get 24 hour care. He would have to be put in the Alzheimer wing because of his dementia and memory loss. My parents can’t afford anything close to that on their fixed income of mostly social security.

I know that I can’t take over for my mom in care giving for my dad. The time constraints of working and mothering a four-year-old would make it impossible. Besides that, I just don’t think I could do it emotionally. My dad and I have bumped heads. Really, we don’t talk that much. I don’t think my dad has ever had an adult conversation with me. I guess he still sees me as his little girl.

I’ve always resented my dad for the way he has treated my mom, always expecting her to wait on him hand and foot, never taking her to a show or a museum.

Don’t get me wrong my dad is a good man with a big heart but he is also stubborn and selfish. He is human. He would always take over projects from me thinking I couldn’t do it myself. This of course gave me quite a complex. Well anyways, I just don’t think I could care for him like my mom.

And now through a generous grant from the organization Transition another home care aid is coming twice a week to help my parents. She will do household jobs and stay with my dad if my mom needs to go out (even if it is just to the backyard). The woman is very sweet and my mom calls her a “godsend.”

I can’t afford to take my mom out three times a week, but I’m hoping she will take an art class or at least use the travel easel we got outside in the garden to paint pictures.

And hopefully this spring/summer I can take her to downtown Chicago to see the sites. Time is such a valuable commodity, I hope we use it to the fullest.

Winter of His Life

I don’t know how I ever lived somewhere that didn’t have changing seasons. Growing up in Arizona I never saw the fall leaves or the winter white blanket of snow. It was either really nice out or just too damn hot. At Christmas time we would use spray-on “snow” for our window sills and of course here in the Midwest we have plenty of the real stuff.

The transformation from Winter to Spring is even more bittersweet with my 90-year-old Dad living with us.


This truly is the Winter of his life, the slowing down and shedding of ambitions and thoughts. Last month my father lost both of his surviving siblings, his 94-year-old sister and his 96-year-old brother.

He told my mom, “Now I’m the only one left.”

Like my father, I didn’t shed any tears when I heard about their passing. I had only seen my aunt a few times when I was a child and we visited the small town where she and my Dad had grown up. And I don’t think I ever meet my father’s brother, except for possibly at a funeral I never committed to memory. I think the reason my Dad did not shed any tears was because he thought they were better off with no more suffering.

I have tried to imagine what my Dad feels like being “the only one left.”

He was such a force to be reckoned with when I was young. Always on the move selling something or buying something. I remember an acre full of bicycle parts and poodle puppies. He was so strong it was rumored that he lifted a car off the ground once. He raised four very different girls. He never had time for museums or parks. He fought in the second World War and had his own auto dealership. His life has indeed been long and filled with old-tyme songs and stories that he still recites.

dscn0579Now he shuffles more than walks, going from the bedroom to the bathroom and back again, during this long and cold Winter.