• Shirla

    My parents divorced before I was a teen, but continued to reside on the same side of town…living separate lives. The whole back and forth visitation on holidays and special events was a part of life. It wasn’t easy…it “just was”.
    I’m the oldest child of my folks and the steps. Also, the only one to move away and not return for anything other than a visit here and there. It never ceases to amaze me how much they change when I see them. They’re truly blessed to have five out of the six still living in proximity.
    ALWAYS wishing them well & caring about them.

    • Shirla indeed, that back and forth becomes the new normal with our parents when they divorce.

      There’s 2 of the 3 of us girls who live within 20 minutes of each of our parents so like your parents, that is a blessing to have most of their children so close.

  • What a beautiful share Patricia!

    It all comes down to forgiveness. My dad was an alcoholic and I had to work very hard on myself to begin the process of forgiveness. When he passed away, I was grateful that I did. I couldn’t hold on to those negative feelings because it was effecting my own life and choices I had made with men.

    For years, I never could understand why my mom didn’t “fight back.” Was she an enabler or was just keeping the peace?” This question was always in my mind. But now, at the young age of 84, she is living with us. I’m blessed that she has her wits about her, but suffers many illnesses.

    Now, when we have our long talks, she explains how she had dealt with my dad. Her belief systems and such. In the end, it was worth holding on to him and not getting a divorce. She is still in love and misses him dearly.

    I’m still learning Patricia and it is a wonderful gift. The other day a song came on the radio and she told me a beautiful story of a dance her and my dad had to this song. Then he sang it to her in Italian….So romantic!

    As we grow, we don’t pay much attention to our parents. But it is so important to do so. To really understand. I was a care taker to my mother and father in law, who both passed at my home with hospice care.

    Boy did I learn a lot from that experience and I would do it all over again.

    Thanks so much for illustrating how important it is to understand our aging parents.

    -Donna

    • This so reminds me of talks I had with my mom. With her dementia advancing, we stay focused on the present most of the time. It’s sad when people with dementia aren’t able to remember some events, but as in sharing this moment, losing your memory can force us to go into our heart with better moments.

      Enjoy your parents – always Donna.

  • This is a great life story Pat. I completely understand what you mean about the love/hate thing. My parents both died(within 9 months of each other) almost 20 years ago now, but I went through many of the same things you are going through now. Though I was devestated when they both died, I was not sorry that their last stages of life were over We really do need to hold on to the present, which so often we take for granted. Love people while you can, because in a blink of an eye they will be gone.

    • AK that is a beautiful lesson you give us: only hold on to the present. As brief as it is, it’s the only thing. Oh how I think I totally get, what you are saying about no regrets about their last stages of life. My hope is I am as strong as both my mom and dad when I am there.

  • Pat Ruppel

    Really good topic and discussion, Patricia. I can see the difficulty their strained relationship had on you and your sisters, especially after they split. It would be hard to love and help them but, oh my, what a blessing you received in their gesture of holding hands. That’s love in the purest form — precious.

    It’s like it had all come full circle. That’s really special, Patricia, and thank you for sharing it with us and the many lessons to take from it.

    • Pat, the hard thing is not in loving them but helping them. We learn as we go how to do this and the timeline we are given is short. I think it’s not something you can read or learn from books or even blog posts! That’s why living in the present is such an important lesson. The full circle observation – spot on. Thanks!

      • Pat Ruppel

        So true, Patricia, in helping them and how we learn, on the fly, just by doing. There are so many things I can relate to on this subject as from what I, too, learned from my parents’ confusingly difficult marriage. The only difference is that my parents never split and my mother died earlier in her life, in her 60’s.

        I never got a chance to see the tenderness and spark of love rekindled like you did. I can only imagine how that impacted you and made you feel. You’re right in that it truly isn’t something you can learn from reading books or blogs. You just have to live it and experience it.

        I’m happy you have so much forgiveness and love in your heart for them. Time is too short and you’re so fortunate to still have them with you.

        • It’s amazing how much, and how long, our parents affect us. Thanks so much for your kind comments.

          • Pat Ruppel

            It is amazing, Patricia, how long it affects us. For me, it’s been almost a lifetime but I’m grateful for the journey. 🙂

  • Yes yes yes this is so spot on and something more people need to read

    • Jo-Anne, if in reading at least this post someone is awakened to remembering that even though our parents are aging, the life that is in them is now. I want to have no regrets of knowing we did what we could to be there with them in the end.

  • Patricia, I live with someone who is in his 80’s, so I can really relate to this post. But what I’ve learned thru all my years of caregiving is that the key to happiness is indeed to live in the moment. Not to wish for what was or might have been. Not to envy those who have better health or wealth. But just to be grateful for every bit of sunshine we can find in every day.

    • Doreen what you said makes me smile. I cannot tell you how often from each of my parents I hear them being grateful for something during the day. It could be for the actual sunshine, it could be for the life they lived, or for the aide who smiled at them that day. You are so right. Thanks.

  • The shift to live more in the present has been a big one for me and is still definitely a work in progress. My mom acted as caregiver for both of her parents and it took a toll, but after seeing everything she went through, I can definitely understand when you refer to it as a love/hate relationship.

    • You speak the truth Jeri – you’ve seen the love/hate of being a caregiver as you watched what your mom went through. And maybe even that – love/hate – is in the moment! Thanks.

  • I want to make sure that both my children would not have to be caregivers. I purchased years ago long term insurance coverage for both my husband and myself. I was fortunate to grow up in a family where my parents were married all their life. We never saw them argue of which I am sure they did behind closed doors. I thought about your story and it is possible with your parents as we age our long term memory becomes keen and short term memory seems to go. So maybe they both remembered what they had at one time.

    • I get it Arleen! I got LTC when there was no limit on the amount to be paid to either in-home care or long term care, ie, nursing home. I have just one son. I don’t want him to in anyway take on the possibility.

      So right about the memories with dementia.

  • Hi Patricia – what a wonderful story – I lived too far away to be of any help with my mom’s caregiving, but I know at times it was tough for my sisters but also for my mom. She had dementia but was often aware of her surroundings and at those times hated being dependent – she was always the doer and the giver, never the taker so it was difficult. Definitely necessary to live in the moment.

    • Lenie I see this sadness in particular in my mom, for being dependent on others. Part of it I think, she was a registered nurse. She knows first hand how if our agedness (is that a word?) forces us to rely on others for daily tasks we might tie to our dignity, it can start to make us hate the dependency. My mom is loved by all the staff around her because she is ALWAYS saying thank you or how much she appreciates them. Moment by moment living is required in this state.

  • Great story. Thanks for sharing. With both my parents and my mother-in-law, I experienced what it was like to change roles and became the caregiver instead of them taking care of me. And oddly enough, once I accepted that, what they taught me about what was important in life became clearer. In my mother-in-law’s case, she spent several years with worsening dementia. But she always remained cheerful and often had a joke. I learned something about being in the present from that.

    • You know Donna, all we can do, is remain in the present. There are things in the past that I both regret, and cherish. I want more of those cherish moments but how would I know about cherish if I didn’t experience regret? Maybe I would, but I don’t know for sure. Thanks!

  • I think the most important lesson I have learned is “real’ patience. I use the word real because most of my life I thought I was a patient person. However, dealing with my dad through sickness and eventual death taught me I still had to provide for his and my mother’s needs, even while working through my own grief. You just cannot let anger and haste stifle patience. My mom showed me this, and I continue to learn as I take care of her during aging.

    • This made me smile Edward. My mom, was most patient although I didn’t recognize it in her all the time. Now, as she sits in a long term care facility, unfortunately always dependent on others, I do see it. She needs 2 aides to help her with what most of us able bodied take for granted. When she wants a shower, and she’s waiting for 30 minutes or more from someone to take her, she’ll say, “That’s okay. I have to wait.” Thanks for the patience reminder.

  • Hi Patricia, I so love this story and all that it imparts. We can learn so much from our parents, if we’re willing the listen with our eyes, ears and heart. 🙂

    • Susan, once again, I appreciate your invitation to be one of your guest bloggers. Thank you.

  • Tim

    That is a beautiful story Patricia. I learned a lot from my aging Mum who passed away a couple of years ago. So much that I could never put it all in a comment. But the most important lesson was, as all parents say, be happy and do what makes you happy. I have committed myself more fully to that since her passing and with a recent check of lines around the eyes (laughter lines), I am guessing the transition is working.

    • How lovely Tim. You likely know this from what I take in your comment, but we cannot even put in a blog post, all we learn from our aging parents. Maybe not even a book, but not a blog post. Thanks.

  • Jon Jefferson

    I know that love hate thing well. My wife’s parents are now both gone. Her mother died suddenly (we expected her father to die first) and her father succumbed to dementia. It was a slow process, watching him deteriorate over 10 years.

    My parents are pushing into those older years now too. My dad is in his mid 80s and we see the changes on a daily basis. He loses so much of what he once was and it can be difficult at times. And then there are the times where you get to hear the same old stories over and over again because he can’t remember telling them to you.

    My parents became cord cutters recently. They opted out of direct tv and the huge costs for a roku and a smart tv. They love watching all their old shows on netflix and hulu, but then there are the times when my dad forgets what he is doing with the tv remote. Ya, I am the one that gets to go over and fix this stuff.

    • Jon, it is such a sad time if we focus on what our parents are losing. After all, my mind still wants to think of mine as vibrant and full of life. My mom told me about 3 or 4 years ago, because she knew I was mulling all this over and not taking it well, “Patty (that’s what she calls me when she’s serious) we’re all growing older. We can’t stop it. I wish I could.” That let me know how much she loves life – even growing older.

      I get the remote thing – my mom’s arthritis and her stubbornness in avoiding one of those big button remotes mean someone else has to change the channels! Thanks.

  • Niekka McDonald

    This is real life. I can appreciate every ounce of this post. Aging parent are hard reality. It’s hard to see your once vivacious parents confined to wheel chairs. Not because you are selfish but because you love them so much.

    • Niekka for sure it’s hard to see because of exactly what you say: our love for them. But I can’t help but wonder if it is a bit of selfishness? For me, it’s still hard to wrap my mind around what Valerie Harper said, for my parents who have ALWAYS been here, “None of us gets out of life alive.” Thanks.

  • Cheryl Therrien

    One of the most difficult things to do is let go of being ‘wronged’ and move on. Perhaps losing those memories allowed the love to shine through via the heart rather than the head that held the past hurt. It’s a mixed blessing for sure. My mother is long gone, but my father is still with us. I have a sister who lives closer to him. I do my best to watch over him long distance. So far his health has been mostly good and his mind is still functioning well. Counting my blessings there.

    • Cheryl I do believe there is good and bad in dementia. This is my story of the good because you are correct in my view: many of us want to hold on to the bad memories of how we might have been wronged.

  • “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.” Sometimes in the busyness of life we are consumed with what’s happened in the past or concerned for the future. Thanks for sharing and the reminder to cherish what we have here and now. Today is a gift of God.

    • It’s easy wisdom to go unnoticed, particularly these days. We seem to be so hurried and often overwhelmed. Thanks Heather!