First up, thank you so much for your comments on yesterday's post!!!! Difficult news is never easy to receive, but sometimes it is good to have an initial freak-out, then blog about it, and then wait to receive useful/helpful/insightful/informative comments from fellow bloggers! So thank you for helping me!!!! AGAIN!!!!
Here's the latest:
I emailed my Mom and asked if it was okay to call her to discuss my Dad's health concerns. She said that was fine, so we spoke last night. Basically Mom wanted to discuss ANYTHING but my Dad. SHOCKER. She kept saying EVERYTHING IS FINE and that we just needed to wait and see what would happen next.
I also spoke with my Dad. He sounded pretty freaking happy and pretty freaking chipper to me, so add that to the mix. We did not discuss his health, as I wasn't sure how much my I was "supposed to know" about his health concerns. LAME. My family is notorious for keeping secrets and "protecting" others from bad news, but this is stupid, counterproductive, S-H-A-D-Y, and needs to end. I/we must work on having clear communication if we want to get anything done.
Side note: I spent a few days with my parents in July. They both looked pretty good to me, and they both seemed to be pretty WITH IT. Sure they are both older and slower and rather scary to drive with (but I think it is scary when anyone but ME is driving), but I didn't really see anything amiss. Humph.
So...I am trying to organize my thoughts (both for my sake and for the reader's sake). Here is what I have come up with:
1) My parents are taking proactive steps to possible/perceived health issues by visiting the DMV to see if Dad is still safe to drive, and by mentioning all health concerns and fears to a doctor. This is good.
2) My parents are getting older. Health problems are inevitable. I think we just have to do the best we can and HOPE my parents' health situations are never as bad as what happened with my Grandpa M. Grandpa M had dementia and Alzheimer's and his decline/demise was A-W-F-U-L.
3) I have to be sympathetic to my Mom and her perspective. Grandpa M's horrendous deterioration and death is still very fresh in her mind. She went through hell dealing with Grandpa M. Mom is also still dealing with my 93-year old Grandma M's terrible health, which has been B-A-D for about 10 years (Grandma M can't walk or talk, she is bedridden, and it doesn't seem that she recognizes anyone). Grandma M has round-the-clock care (which costs $5,000 a month!!!!). Grandma M's body keeps ticking even though not much else is. Mom visits her daily. I am sure Mom must be thinking first she had to take care of her Dad, she is still taking care of her Mom, and now her husband is falling apart, too. This has to be incredibly stressful.
4) Gotta keep Dad's perspective in mind too. He freely admits he is slower and can't do all that he used to, but he still seems like he is pretty mobile, pretty happy, and very busy with all of his projects. He also says Mom is RIDDLED WITH ANXIETY and LOOKING FOR PROBLEMS, and I am sure there is some truth to this. However, Mom's concerns have to be addressed as some, if not all of them, are probably legitimate.
5) A family meeting is in order. How ominous does that sound?! It is rare that we are all together, but this Thanksgiving or this Christmas we should take the opportunity to discuss ALL of my parents' health issues and concerns, as well as assistance/care they will need in the future. This HAS to happen. I sensed a little RELUCTANCE from my Mom when I floated this idea, so we'll see how it all shakes out.
6) Like most families, our family is busy. And spread out. My brother and his wife and three young kids live about a mile from my parents. They are overworked, underpaid, in debt and stressed to the max. My sister, her husband and her two little kids live six hours away from my parents. I live six hours away from my parents, and I don't have a spouse or kids, although I am in a committed relationship to a man with kids. My other sister lives the furthest away -- in Texas. She is single without kids. So...it is tricky. I don't think any of us would jump up and down at the notion of living with the parents when they need full-time assistance (ACK!), but I guess we all need to talk and figure out what to do. This stuff is not easy, but most of us end up facing elder care issues if we are lucky enough to keep our parents into their golden years.
7) I am trying to keep perspective on all of this. My first reaction was bawling, quickly followed by WAILING that life just seems to be a S E R I E S O F P R O B L E M S -- you knock one problem out and two more follow. UGH. Such is life. I think all we can do is try to get the most out of life and deal with problems as they come along. Not exactly a great working plan for life, but that's all I've got.
So. We'll see what happens.
P.S. I mentioned to my Mom that she must be stressed, and that there are medications available for stress and anxiety. She was angry when I mentioned this and she curtly replied that she "KNOWS HOW TO MANAGE THE STRESSES OF LIFE, THANK YOU VERY MUCH". !!!!!! Well, alrighty then. !!!!!!!