I KNEW I’D BE OKAY – PART 1

I created this illustration for the last story of my book. I am looking out my door to a beautiful future.

“I am blessed”

I used to go shopping with my mom every Monday evening; it was our special ritual. She would accompany me to many stores, as I hunted for items on a long list. I always brought along coupons in my holder and she had her own holder, which matched mine. We would often swap coupons. I no longer cut coupons and I shop as little as possible.

 

My list was getting far too long and I couldn’t put it off any longer. I decided to fit in a shopping run; it was certainly more exercise than sitting at my computer. I danced through the store and decided that I missed shopping as I listened to my music and quickly gathered items for my household. My basket was full, and I estimated it would probably be several hundred dollars. I swiftly placed belts, T-shirts, deodorant, food items and even some new bed sheets on the conveyor belt. The checker smiled at me, and I asked her, “How are you?”

 

She answered, “I am blessed!”

 

I stopped and said, “That’s amazing, I feel that way, too! Your answer is my answer. You know, we are part of a special group of people. Our deep appreciation for life glows from our soul as we walk through life.”

 

I paid my bill. As I left the store, I could still feel her warm hug. I didn’t know her, but felt like I’d see her again someday. She was very excited to meet me and told me she looked forward to reading my blog and hearing my music.

 

“I’ve closed the curtains”

I’ve described my writing as an explosion, when I first began my blog. The “window to my heart” opened up and I released decades of memories and feelings.

 

After a year of writing, I wrote a poem where I mentioned I had left the window open but decided to close the curtains. I still love to write, but have satisfied that desire by composing new songs. They continue to erupt from me and the process always leaves me totally fulfilled.

 

Writing for my blog is a luxury that I have had to limit in order to continue my ambitious pace of editing and recording my audio book. If I wrote about my passion and what I have been doing – it would probably be boring to read about. However, I am very excited at how much I have improved as a speaker and singer since I began recording my book.

This picture was taken two years ago. A lot has changed since then.

“Wings that fly, and wings that flutter”

I was up until 2 a.m. working on editing one of my songs. The next morning, my 21-year-old son became extremely ill. I received his text message while I was playing tennis. I suggested he make an appointment to see his doctor. I was amazed how I knew his medical record number, as well as his doctor’s phone number by heart. I texted him back the information.

 

He told me he was too sick to even make an appointment. I was wary, since most of my children are used to me taking care of things for them. That has changed a lot, though, as I’ve healed over the past two years. I decided I would call and take him to the doctor, because he looked like he was in tremendous pain. I was able to schedule a 3 p.m. appointment.

 

At lunchtime, it became clear to me that I had to take him to the doctor immediately. He could hardly speak or walk. I wished I were a little more lucid to handle the situation, since I had only gotten 4 hours of sleep the night before. As I drove him to the hospital, he retched into a bag and moaned loudly.

 

By evening, my son had surgery to remove his appendix and ended up spending one night in the hospital. All day long, I was relaxed and smiling; I let every health care worker know how professional and terrific they were. I came home and celebrated how everything had turned out ok; my child had received such excellent care.

 

I rarely write about my children anymore on my blog, but couldn’t omit this story. My 21-year-old son is truly a wonderful man. He has always had fears about surgery and anesthesia; he never even allowed for Novocaine shots when he had dental work. But yesterday, he was absolutely remarkable and I was so proud of him.

 

I know there are many parallels between my children and my parents at this time in my life. I’m still definitely part of the “sandwich generation.” But lately, I’ve realized there are some differences. One of those differences came to the forefront last week, and filled me with sadness.

 

I was sad because my children are spreading wings to fly, whereas my elderly father is fluttering slowly down to the ground.

 

A few weeks ago, my father mentioned to me that he wanted to move from his skilled nursing facility into an assisted living facility. I felt trepidation at first, but stifled it when I saw how excited he was about it. It was rare that he was excited about anything anymore. Most of the time he was dour and depressed.

 

The glimmer in his eye and the lilt in his voice reminded me that it was important to allow for his dream, even though I realized that it might lead to a situation that would not be in his best interest. I was concerned that if he fell ill, I might end up frantically trying to find a place to care for him.

 

When he told me one of his major reasons for moving, it was hard for me not to laugh and cry at the same time. He said he wanted to get away from his nursing facility because he was “surrounded by dummies.” That was my father’s description of the rampant dementia that did indeed surround him. I knew he wasn’t that tolerant of my mother’s confusion, but now his roommate and the three other people at his dining room table were driving him crazy.

 

The other reason my father mentioned was financial. His love for my mother was apparent, because he wanted to be sure there was enough money to continue paying for her companion/caregiver. He said he wanted to move in order to make things easier for me and insisted there would be more money if he went into a cheaper, assisted living facility. The feeling of being cared about by my father was something I treasured. It was the last vestige of my role as his child.

 

My father was looking out for me.

 

It soon became clear that he wanted to make his dream a reality. I was excited to see my his enthusiasm. My father was controlling his own destiny now and I decided it was very important that he had this opportunity, even with the reservations I had. Like any of my children, it was best that he came to make his own decision. I did not want to discourage him, nor be the one to dash his dream.

 

My father had a brand new facility in mind, that had been recommended to him. On two occasions, I drove him over to look at it. I noticed that there wasn’t a handicapped parking space and it looked like this new place was simply a converted apartment building. As I helped him out from my van, I felt like I was taking one of my children to look at a college dorm. (Even though none of my children have ever lived in one).

 

There was another comparison to my children: My teenagers always wanted to appear cool in a new situation. When my father told me not to bring the blanket he normally wore over his shoulders, I realized that he wanted to appear less ill that way.

 

A young woman introduced herself and gave us a tour through the facility. When my father moaned loudly, she asked him if he were okay. He said, “I always moan and everyone always asks me that. I can’t help it. I’m not in pain; it’s just discomfort.”

 

My father has suffered greatly with a permanent catheter, due to his enlarged prostate and kidney stones. Sadly, he continues to have recurrent infections. After viewing what would become his new room, it looked fairly certain that he would be moving the following week.

 

Then he changed his mind about moving.

 

The first thing that happened was that he received a call from his urologist. His recent urine specimen showed another infection again. His antibiotic regimen was extended for a month and all healthcare workers were required to wear gowns and masks when working with him.

 

I asked him if that was the reason he had changed his mind. Then he told me there was more to it. He said, “I reconsidered moving when I was wet at night and needed my diaper changed. At the new facility, there wouldn’t be anyone to do that for me in the middle of the night.”

 

I felt so sorry for him. As his dream faded, I could see that his eyes exuded hopelessness.

A recent picture taken with my father.

“No more hospitalization”

It was so different for me being in a hospital yesterday with my son, than it had ever been in the past. I was calm, relaxed and extremely grateful for the excellent care my son received; he would be fine with all the advantages of modern medicine.

 

I have had many traumatic experiences in hospitals, especially with my son, Jason, who died in 1992.

 

I have also spent a lot of time in hospitals with both my parents. However, my parents now have orders that state “no hospitalization.” If they are ill, they will simply die at their nursing facility without any intervention.

 

The “no hospitalization” order was written for my mother when she was on hospice after breaking her hip. My father has told me that he definitely never wants to see a hospital again.

 

I dread when the day arrives where they will be dying at their facility.

 

I pray it happens in their sleep.

This is a rare picture of my father with his mother and one of his grandchildren. His mother never smiled and I see a lot of resemblance to her in him now.

“How horrible a catheter is”

My son walked gingerly into his bedroom. He was so tired and told me he had hardly slept for two days. We drove through Taco Bell so I could buy him his favorite lunch. His eyes bulged with pain as he lay down on his bed. He was shivering, possibly a reaction to pain or to medication.

 

I hurried to eat my own lunch and took a quick shower. I had an hour before my father would be coming over. I did not want to change the routine; every week, my father loved to come over to spend the afternoon at my home. He had so few pleasures in his life and on this day, he would get to see his grandson.

 

My father’s eyes were bright when I told him my son was home from the hospital. I pushed his wheelchair over to my son’s bedroom. My son was still awake.

 

My son piped up, “Grandpa, now I know how horrible a catheter is! It’s like pissing sand!”

 

My father bent over his wheelchair and sobbed with relief to see him.

My mother is a miracle because she is able to walk after breaking her hip a year ago. She did not have surgery to repair it. Her dementia symptoms have been quite alarming lately. She has been more aggressive and did not recognize her caregiver, yesterday.

© Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

About Judy

I'm an illustrator by profession. At this juncture in my life, I am pursuing my dream of writing and composing music. Every day of my life is precious!
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One Response to I KNEW I’D BE OKAY – PART 1

  1. How wise you were to let your father decide for himself, that is often so hard for us – allowing people to make their own decisions. And you knew that it was time to help your son. Good work, my friend. 🙂

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