Jun 7, 2018

The Sweetest Moment

Thanks for the comments on my earlier post. I love reading how our lives parallel. It's a good reminder of our shared humanity.

My son was 2 when my mom moved in with us. She was in her sixties and healthy. She watched our son while we both worked, did the grocery shopping, and generally was a huge help to us. As the years moved on, as my long time readers know, things shifted. My mom was no longer helping us; we were helping her. When I look back on those long hard days, I am grateful we decided to take care of my mom in our home as long as possible. But I also regret taking care of my mom in our home as long as possible.

It's taken me decades to figure out that our life decisions are rarely black or white. Almost everything we experience has an upside and a downside. Our moral compass and love compelled us to take care of my mom, but it came at a high cost. It affected our son, who witnessed one too many ambulance arrivals at our home. It affected my husband and our marriage and our family in a million ways -- finances, time, and stress.

For over 5 years we had very limited ability to travel away from our house for more than a few hours. That "always on duty" was exhausting. And if you were reading my blog, or were part of my real life, you heard all about it. While millions of families go through this care-taking, it doesn't feel that way when you are in the middle of it. It is a solitary experience and there are times when it is sweet and fabulous and times when it is awful and maddening.

But now we are in another phase -- we are the "older" family members. I'm now the age my mom was when she moved in with us. For years our son cautioned us that he could never do for us what we did for my mom. We 100% got it. We assured him that we would never want him to be in that position and made plans to ensure that he won't. But as my mother in law's health failed and death looked more and more certain, our son suggested we move down to Dallas so that we could all be together again. He said "I don't think I could do what you did for grandma, but I could give you a ride to the doctor if you needed it."

Dude, we're fine!

But, it was the sweetest moment. Our son had lived through watching how to care for his grandmother and now was there for his other grandmother. And at that moment his thoughts were to pull our family closer. For the first time I saw the upside of his being there when taking care of my mom was so hard. He learned, too, that it was both a blessing and a curse.

The reality is that my heart is getting a little worse. I'm basically fine, but am now dealing with some relatively mild congestive heart failure. Fluid builds up and makes it harder to breathe, particularly when walking up stairs. It's a common condition and I keep it under control by watching my sodium and through medication. But, it's progressive and we can't help but wonder about the future.

So, when the sweetest moment arrives, you seize it, not knowing for sure what's around the corner, but confident that seizing it is the right thing.

I'll keep you posted!


judkajudi said...

The events we hope to shield our kids from often are the lessons they need for their lives. I am sorry to hear your heart is a little worse but glad you and your husband are making decisions for your future. And I think you should buy that gorgeous home!! Blessings.

Barb said...

Your heart may be getting worse, but your HEART is so much bigger! I love that your son wants you to be closer and you are taking him up on that. I hope you have a wonderful adventure and if you can buy that house - DO IT!!!!

Leslie Miller said...

You'll have a perfectly comfy, air conditioned home with a lovely craft room, and your son will enjoy the occasional visit and the opportunity to help you out now and then. You've reached that place we all come to eventually. I've been thinking about it a lot. Our son is several hours away and he's our only family. Our town is easy to get around in, our house not too big, but the property... Nature nature could easily reclaim it. She's constantly trying. I don't want to move, but our son has already said he likes the idea of us living closer. He mentioned something about popping in for dinner... Lots to think about. You're being very brave and wise, Joan.

Diane McVey said...

Wonderful memories to ponder, also memories of a difficult time. Life teaches us many things, and I applaud you for your decisions. Now your choice to move is fantastic, one you won’t regret. Being closer to family is priceless. I own land in Tennessee and would love to return to live there; but none of my four sons want to be near there...so I live where I can see two of them. The other two are far away. I couldn’t bear to see none of them often, so my choice is that closeness, even though I’m not crazy about Kansas. We have to do the best we can, and I feel you guys have made a wonderful decision. I’m very happy for you. I’m sad to hear about your heart, but I know you will do your best to keep going. My kidneys are at 22%, at 20% I am eligible for the transplant list. I don’t fret about it, but enjoy every day and keep going. Wishing you the very best, always.

ReneeK said...

Andy gets it! That's a reflection on his parents. I'm happy for all of you. renee.k@charter.net

Andrew and Bertha Pilgrim said...

Your post is a sweet testimony to your son's love. Sorry to hear about the fluid buildup. I hope the diet and medications allow you to live relatively happy and pain free for many years to come.

My mum is aging and lives in another country. Though we (my sister also lives here) are trying to make things comfortable for her to move here, she is stubborn about her independence. She doesn't want to be a burden. My husband and I don't want to be either. We don't have kids so we will have to provide for ourselves, when that time comes.

Take good care and I wish you all the best.

Anonymous said...

As always, such a lovely and poignant reflection. I'm honored you shared it. As a retired nurse with a pacemaker I share some of your symptoms and feel empathy for you. I hope you'll feel better after the move is accomplished and are able to find a home with no stairs! I'm looking forward to hearing more about your adventures. You are a brave girl.
You'll like Texas...we have great food here and a lot of history!
d dot r dot mcewen at att dot net

Jennifer Scull said...

once again I've missed stuff here on your blog while dealing with my own health issues. I'm sorry to now get caught up and read about your MIL's passing. my prayers are with you and your family. I will keep praying for you as you deal with your heart and the stuff that goes with it and also the move. being a Texas gal myself, I think you will enjoy the beautiful friendships you will make with the friendly folk there. :) the foods and sights are spectacular, although now that I am a vegan, I would probably look upon it a bit differently. ha! but really, the farmer's markets I remember were wonderful as are the wonderful flea markets and bazaars you can find taking place all across the state almost every weekend. there is so much to behold in this amazing place you are moving to. it's an adventure waiting to happen!!!! I apologize for being so out of it. that is what happens when being stuck in bed for months on end. yuck. oh well. I hold you in my heart wherever you go. take care of yourself. :)