The high dive is scary. One wrong move and it’s going to hurt. You can’t go back. Once the decision is made you are going to get wet. Maybe we should think about this first, reflect on the past or dream of the future. Anything but dive in.
It’s Not About My Lunch
I don’t like talking about me here. I’m not doing this for me. It doesn’t do you much good and this is about you. You don’t need regular photos of my lunch or my vacation (as if).
But occasionally I need to talk about the backstory so you understand my point. I made a few grand declarations about changing things around here and then didn’t post much. There were reasons, not excuses. Here’s the story.
We’ve been taking care of my mother at home for four years. She had an allergic reaction to a medication and the side affect was dementia. It was severe until we discovered the cause. Then it was better, but recovery was slow. Mom is, after all, in her eighties. She moved in and we changed our lives to fit her needs.
We used every lesson we’ve learned about chronic illness, recovery and encouragement to get her better. When she started she was in a wheel chair and couldn’t feed herself. Eventually she recovered to the point that she could walk for miles and remember details I forgot.
It’s been hard but so many people my age are going through this that I knew it could have been much worse. I initially thought I could write about it here but it felt wrong. It felt like a violation of her privacy and she’s always been private.
It was rewarding but costly. My dream of living and writing in the mountains slowly fell apart over the next two years. Money only stretched so far. Mom was taking up time that I needed to write and organize my new life. I had to go back to work.
My skills as a recording engineer and music producer were worth much less outside of a music center so we moved the crew back to the Nashville area. I took a part time job teaching engineering at a local school and did a little work from home.
It wasn’t glamorous or particularly profitable but it was steady and left me some time for Mom. I was surprised to find I love teaching. But without consistent attention Mom’s progress slowed and plateaued.
We tried an assisted living facility, thinking that would help but it only made matters worse. We moved her back home after two months and did our best. Suzie and my son had to step up and fill the gaps. I felt guilty every moment I was away.
Recently Mom got to the point that she couldn’t stay home. She loves to walk and it is part of what has kept her going through a difficult illness. But she started staying out for hours and having problems on the way. She passed out several times, fell in the driveway, got overheated, forgot her coat and got too cold.
She had to be rescued a lot. There were trips to the hospital and doctor visits. Neighbors and total strangers helped her. There was a harrowing and illegal drive down a walking trail to get her. People would show up at my door to tell me where they’d found her and what she was doing.
We tried to keep her home but we would blink and she would be back out the door visiting with a neighbor or watching rabbits or admiring the sunset.
She handled it with grace, courage and a sense of humor. She always wanted to help someone, even if she didn’t have the ability. She prayed for people, remembered birthdays and had an amazing grasp of financial details. We laughed, cried and worried but she never complained about her problems and kept going.
There’s much more to the story but it is heart-breakingly typical for this illness and doesn’t merit repeating here.
Time For A Change
One night a few weeks ago, despite weeks of discussions, Mom decided to take a walk when I nodded off to sleep. The problem was that it was after dark. I woke up with her gone and no idea where she might be. I drove the neighborhood and found her blocks away near the local elementary school.
The area is very safe, though not well lit. I had passed her once without seeing her. My imagination pictured dozens of horrible scenarios, each worse than the last. It was a clear sign that things needed to change.
Last Monday I met my brother and his wife at Mom’s storage unit and helped them load the truck to move Mom to their house. She will have someone with her twenty-four hours a day and the situation will be improved. Mom will have the same problems but will have more help. It will be tough on them all but they are taking it on willingly even while knowing the problems. We are fortunate to have them.
Freedom = Responsibility
Back to the present! This leaves me with more freedom but an urgent commitment to accomplish things while I’ve been given this new opportunity. My commitment has deepened with my understanding of just how fleeting life’s options can change.
My priorities are very clear. There are important things that need to be done. The time is now!
That’s my story. Now you know my heart. Enough about me. Too much talking is just postponing. Let’s get off the board and into the pool.
Diving in . . . bounce . . . 3 . . . bounce . . . 2 . . . bounce . . . 1 . . . splash!