About Me

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Recent retiree--35 year's experience teaching reading, English, adult basic education and volunteer leadership skills. Started this blog to exchange ideas and commentary with friends and others having an interest in joining the discussions. Greatest life accomplishments include: 1.organized my 3rd grade class to check out library books for me to get around librarian's weekly limit--Amazon.com, the Mullins Elementary 3rd Grade Class of 1956 is still waiting for "thank you" notes; 2. volunteered in the Peace Corps, island of St. Kitts, West Indies; 3.taught adults to read, earn their GEDs., and speak English as a second language; 4. bought a border collie puppy for $6, got evicted rather than give him up, and began a life-long love affair with all things "Dog"; 5. joined a physical fitness boot camp in my mid-50s--don't mess with someone who's been doing regulation pushups in wet grass at 5:30 a.m.; 6. walked across Northern England with best friend Sally--over 80 miles from the Irish to North Seas; and 7. travelled to many foreign countries for pleasure and work.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Our Time to Care

(Our hostess for this week's Fun Monday is Mommy Wizdom . Mommy Wizdom offers us a rare opportunity to be the ruler of the world--or at least our small part of it--for a day, week, month, or year. If this were indeed a possibility, I'd work on a modern day dilemma that most of us are in the middle of now, or will certainly face in the future--taking care of an aging and/or sick family member, friend or pet.)

It's no secret that we're hanging around longer thanks to better living conditions and access to sometimes heroic medical care. While this is a good thing--I guess--the reality is that eventually most of us will need assistance with everyday living. Where do we turn when we can no longer fix a meal, bathe, pay our bills, drive to an appointment, or understand what the doctor tells us to do?

Most of my real life friends, as well as you friends in the blogosphere, are dealing with the many challenges of care giving for another adult in their immediate family or circle of friends. You provide care and support for an aging parent or parent-in-law who may have lost physical or mental capacity. You step in to help a brother or sister, grown child or friend who is fighting a serious illness. You write about caring for a much loved dog who has lived so many years that his heart, limbs and body functions fail him. But still, with all the infirmities, you see an occasional reminder of the young, playful and mischievous dog that made you laugh or drove you crazy with puppy antics.

How do we manage to give care when it's our time? And, how do we do it without sacrificing our own happiness and quality of life?If I were ruler of my world for even a day, I'd get answers to these questions because I need them now. . .

Over the past couple of months my quiet peaceful life has turned upside down. My only sister, who is ten years older than I, has experienced a serious decline in health over the last few months. I had been driving long distances to take her to the doctor and help with medical and other decisions. Then, on July 9 her apartment building burned, leaving her homeless. Since then, I have moved her into my home until we can figure out what to do about her housing and medical care. Let me just say, if you are accustomed to living alone, there's no house that's big enough for two people. I live on the fringes of my home. My sister has the rest of the house, but longs to be in her own place. The decisions about how aggressively to treat her illness weigh heavily on my shoulders--she has no opinions on this one way or another.

Now I know Mommy Wizdom has great powers, but until my chance to be Ruler for the Day comes along I'll try to apply this quote: "Things that seem hard are not always that hard. Put one foot in front of the other and you'll get to the end." I'd also love to hear how you are dealing with this issue. Leave me some pearls of wisdom with your comments. And, don't forget to check out what other Fun Monday Rulers plan to do when they get the chance to call the shots!

(Image Credit: Venus, Ruler of the World, painting by Giovanni Bellini)

23 comments:

Ari_1965 said...

I'm sorry all of this has landed upon you. She is fortunate to have you.

Olive said...

You tell a heartwarming story and so correct about declining health. My sister talks to me about her health all of the time. I know one day I will be tending to her. Stay strong.

Sayre said...

I agree with you. We are in the midst of dealing with elderly parents. One is declining physically and the other mentally. I imagine that about the time we wrap up their lives, my own parents will start needed help as well - so we're looking at perhaps 15-20 years of this!

There needs to be some kind of safety net for people like them and like your sister. This is where social security was such a blessing back when. It was devised to keep people out of the poor house when they could no longer work. It has sense been whittled away and used for so many different things that it is barely recognizable in it's former guise. Reinstituting social security to its original purpose or coming up with a new system to do the same would be worthy accomplishments, Your Highness.

Mariposa said...

I'm sorry about your sister..and my prayers are with you both!

You are so right, there are so many important things that rulers/ leaders neglect...and I share the same feeling with you, HEALTH should come first.

And...it is not how long one serve/rule, it is always what he/she left behind...so even if we get to rule for just a day, if we spent that whole day making sure good plans are understood and carried out by the next ruler...by heart...then we are good!

Ahhh...if only people are less selfless rather than selfish.

Happy Monday and have a wonderful week!

Faye said...

Special note to Hootin' Anni--tried to comment on your Fun Monday post and it wouldn't take! What am I doing wrong? Even promised to make the smoothie of the week if my comment would display. . .

Swampwitch said...

"Put one foot in front of the other and you'll get to the end..."
I can certainly relate to that.

Life by the yard is hard.
Life by the inch is a cinch.

Well, it may not be a cinch, but it's easier taken a little at a time.

I hope both you and your sister have a good week...a day at a time.

Peter said...

Keep getting older, it solves a lot of problems... aged parents and others you care for most likely have gone to happier climes and hopefully its not your turn yet.

karisma said...

Beautiful quote! I agree! You know, as long as we are doing the best that we can do, no-one can ask for more.

We have always had the opinion in our home that our parents would live with us when they are older. My father in law is living with us now. I think though if someone is needing full time care that options such as aged care facilities are a must.

After all we are only human and cannot do everything ourselves. I hope to take after my grandparents and keep soldiering on until I die! My nana lived on her own till she died at 82, my other gran is still kicking at 88 and lives with my aunt.

Its wonderful that you are looking after your sister, but you know if it all gets too much, don't be afraid to ask for help!

Hootin' Anni said...

I experienced this 'dilemma' of caretaker for both my aged parents, and I found that life IS turned upside down to the point where you're feeling like you're pulled from both ends. I finally found relief so to speak with health services. They came into my home and helped while I worked..they took care of the cooking, the home and my parents while I was making a living.

My F M rule is posted...come by....vote!!

iPost said...

Oh Faye. I am sorry to hear all of this is weighing on your mind! You are a loving sister and I say take your own advice and put one foot in front of the other. If you're going through hell, keep on moving...

storyteller said...

I’m sorry your sister’s experiencing challenging physical symptoms and has lost her home to a fire. Bless you for taking her in. Years ago I cared for my dying brother ... spending my summer break providing 'relief' to his wife so she could continue to work. They were the best (and worst) of times, but I wouldn't have missed any of them. I'm also reminded of how invited a friend to move in with me (with her 3 teenaged daughters) while she went back to school. Those were amazing years (all 5 of them) and although they generated challenges for all of us, they blessed us all as well.

As Randy Pausch reminded us recently in his Last Lecture … ‘experience is what we get when things don’t work out as we planned’ and brick walls are there to teach us what we need to learn. The quote you’re applying has power and I wish you both well … have added you each to my prayer list.
Hugs and blessings,

Aoj and The Lurchers said...

It sounds as if on your side of the pond, as on mine, care for elderly, infirm or those struck with any number of incapacitating illnesses is woefully non-existent outside the home.

jientje said...

This world needsmore people like you!! You do an incredible job!!

And I'm nagging about the weather? Shame on me, I mean really!!!

Debs said...

My prayers are with you and your sister. I wish I did have some wisdom to share. Your sister is very lucky to have you!

SwampAngel65 said...

Sorry about all of those things happening to your sister. I know you must love her and would do anything for her, but I can understand the need for you to get back to living the way your'e used to (her, too!). I have no pearls of wisdom to offer, only prayers that things will work out in a way that is good for both of you. Take it one day at a time and at least cherish the time you have with her. She is very lucky to have you.

Robocop said...

I'll pray for your situation. There is no easy solution for the care of the elderly. Perhaps a first step starts with the family. Families need to take care of their own, this gift of care coming into a full circle, so to speak.

Big Momma said...

I am sending good vibes your way....

Irish Coffeehouse said...

Prayers for you. It's hard to be a family member and caretaker at the same time. But strength will empower you, and you'll be guided at the right time in the right way.

hulagirlatheart said...

It is tough. My elderly in-laws live next door to us. It puts us close enough to care for them throughout the day but still gives us a wee bit of space. We're not fighting over the same tv or shower. There have been times when it was too close, but overall, it's been a blessing. As tough as it is, I know our time with them is growing short. When it is all said and done, we will be glad we were this close. Is the house next door to you for sale? Interested in owning a duplex?

lisaschaos said...

I have not had to come to this place yet and I'm so worried about the day I do. Unfortunately, I think it will be others caring for me but I hope they find a way.

I hope you and your sister figure it all out and I'm sorry for you both. You are a great sister indeed!

Alison said...

I love your quote Faye...I don't have any pearls of wisdom for you, but I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers...

Lane said...

I wish I had some pearls of wisdom and I wish you could become Ruler of the World and get some answers too. I have none but I know it's a case of taking it bit by bit. If we tried to cope with the whole picture, I'm sure we'd go mad or give up, neither of which is very useful. (Swampwitch's comment is very true!)

You're a good sister Faye and I'm sorry your life has been turned upsidedown. I hope you come up with some workable solutions soon.

Gay, Married, with Cat said...

I hadn't checked your blog for a while. What a busy (and stressful) time for you!

Your sister is lucky to have you.

Good luck as you navigate through these difficulties.