Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving meditation - a day late

This year, I am a day late with my Thanksgiving blog post. I spent my Thanksgiving with my parents at their rehab center in Louisville, Ky. My youngest brother, his wife and son were also there. It was a very nice Thanksgiving dinner, but a bittersweet one.

My mother suffered a fairly disastrous stroke in mid-October, the week of her 89th birthday. It is not clear, but I am guessing the stroke caused the fall that broke her hip as well. The broken hip is healing well. The stroke is a slower thing to heal. She is able now, after a LOT of work, to say a short sentence, if she does not get too excited, or too tired. She can, with LOTS of support, shuffle about 3 steps. This woman is not going to be back to her old self. But I am impressed with the progress she has made, and with her determination. I am very grateful to all the medical teams who have worked with her and continue to provide gentle, kind and respectful care to her.

My father, whose memory had been deteriorating for some time, is now revealed to be quite incapable of living on his own. So he has joined her in the rehab center. He is actually very fit, physically. He can walk faster than any of the rehab center staff. It's embarrassing how much faster than me he walks. Until my mother's stroke & hip break, my father was doing all the housework and going out to trim the hedges at their house, rake leaves, and shovel snow. Now, however, he spends all his time sitting by my mother. He is taking tender care of her, and they are very sweet together.

My parents have been married for more than 62 years. They lived in the house they just left for 55 years. We kept wanting them to move to assisted living - they both really needed to be in a support system some years ago. But my father resisted with all his stubborn might. He wanted to stay in his house. We made the mistake when we did get them to try out a very nice assisted living place, of leaving the cars and keys with them! They stayed for 2 weeks, but then my father went back home, and my mother loyally went with him. They were back home for maybe half a year before my mother's stroke.

So my parents have been moved from Lexington, where they lived for many decades, to Louisville, where my youngest brother lives. He is the only child still living in the state. So, to be close to somebody who can visit and keep an eye on the care, stay in touch with the doctors and other caregivers, my parents are in Louisville. My siblings and I take turns coming in to give my brother a break.

I am very pleased that my visit is the occasion for my brother and his family to drive to Nashville to do a photo shoot for my amazing nephew, Mark. He is just starting high school, but is already doing couture design, and very interesting work. You can see the progress in his work from year to year at MW. I enjoyed talking with Mark, missed his older sister Grace, who is starting college this year. They are very interesting young people and I am glad they are having a chance to do something fun and very much away from Louisville and taking my brother for a brief vacation from responsibility.

My own family had an early Thanksgiving, thanks to my daughter sweetly coming home a week early to spend time with us while I was available. Thank you, Alexa! I understand she came back again (!) for the real Thanksgiving and I trust they are enjoying the traditional McKenzie Thanksgiving pizza.

I am thankful for family, and for generous caregivers. For people who will help a stranger just to be kind. I am thankful I have a job, and one I enjoy, that I hope is helping others. I am thankful I have children I love who love me back. I am thankful for my husband who is so supportive while I am doing all this. I am thankful for hotels that have internet as part of the package, too, even if it's not a very good connection.

I hope you all are having an excellent Thanksgiving, and safe travels wherever you go! May you also find kind strangers, willing to help.


Marie S. Newman said...

A very moving post, Betsy, and one that touched me deeply. My 97-year-old father gave up his medical practice (reluctantly) in August and moved in with us in New York--so many changes for him all at once. He is mentally very sharp (he's revising articles for publication and starting on a book about aging) and physically very strong as well, although he is blind in one eye and just had surgery on the other one. He had done absolutely no planning for this phase of his life, and we are all making it up as we go along. My only sibling is out of state and not able to provide any assistance except for paying his bills, wrapping up his medical practice, handling his taxes, and other such things. I too am lucky to have a supportive husband who graciously helped me tear up our house to make it ready to receive an elderly person. We haven't needed any kind strangers yet, but I'm sure the day will come when we do. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

Unknown said...

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Great van and article. Nice pictures too.
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