Reflections – August 2020

Sunflower from a Squirrel-planted seed

I’m scared

sometimes

of living in an

aging body that seems

unpredictably more fragile

when just one wrong move

cracks my back and sends me

to bed in agonizing pain for a week

It’s not the thought of dying that I fear

I’m terrified by the possibility of having to rely on others

for kind, compassionate care if I am not able to take care of myself

***

My thoughts today reminded me of a song by Laura Nyro, “and when I die.”

I also remembered the things I witnessed when I worked as a nurses’ aide in nursing homes and a university hospital, as an attendant in the infirmary of a state school for people with mental retardation, and as a home health care aide for people who were recovering from major illnesses or dying. I have written about some of those experiences in previous posts (Mickey, Clara, Rita, and Donald), including the motivation they provided for me to complete degrees that would enable me to try to humanize long-term care systems at a policy level.

My mother meeting her great grandson – March, 1999

I learned enough to be able to try to create more humane care for my mother for the last 16 years of her life, although it required tenacity, vigilance, and creativity. I don’t know if she was aware of her losses or where she was because of Alzheimer’s Disease. It’s not something I wish for my daughter to shoulder.

My mother, daughter, and grandson – March 1999

I don’t know what the future will bring, but I do know that I need to make major changes in where and how I live. Things that were easy for me to do, or at least manageable just a short while ago like landscaping and shoveling heavy snow, could mean serious injury and permanent disability the next time I don’t move just the right way.

That’s just how life is. Things change and old bodies wear out one way or another. So many others in the world right now are suffering far greater challenges and losses. I am grateful for the many blessings in my life and feel no need to mourn what was. I have courses to prepare for the fall semester that will be beginning in early September, a family to care for as long as I’m here, and dear blogging friends who hopefully know how much I care even though my presence on WordPress has been so infrequent this summer.

Sending my best wishes to all.

31 thoughts on “Reflections – August 2020

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  1. Carol, I’m glad you’re feeling better now. I, too, am terrified of having to rely on others to take care of me should I become incapable of doing so. I dread the thought of becoming a burden to my sons. As we age, this body of ours becomes more and more unreliable for carrying out activities once so effortless. A time comes when we have to let go of control and to put our very life into the hands of our loved ones. Take care. Blessings ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Always so thoughtful and thought provoking, Carol. Just this morning I decided that I would begin opening boxes which haven’t been opened or were repacked in anticipation of another move. Time to “lighten my load” so that my next move to a smaller space will be easier. Sending you my best wishes and blessings. Be gentle with yourself, dear Carol. 💚

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Over 20 years ago I visited a dear elderly relative in a nursing home. She had always been an upbeat person, so I was surprised to hear her say “It’s no fun getting old.” Now that I’m elderly myself, I’ve come to realize (and my body, to feel) what she meant….but I must soldier on for as long as I can because my wife (who is even older) and i have an incapacitated adult daughter to take care of. Nonetheless, I can deal with life not being fair — what makes my blood boil is the fact that we have politicians in power who have no empathy for people in need, and only make things worse by their incompetence, narcissism and self-serving authoritarianism.

    Pardon the ‘rant,’ but suffering people deserve better than that.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and wisdom, Mister Muse. In my teen years and later career in gerontology, I was fortunate to witness some kinder times for elders and people in need. There have always been examples of people in power without empathy, but these days they seem to be far more widespread and unstoppable. The destruction they wreak affects every person, neighborhood, and nation. And yet, the work you share with others brings both wisdom and humor as you continue to care for those who are close. Thank you for that reminder and inspiration!

      Sending my gratitude and best wishes. 💜

      Like

    1. Thank you so much for your kind, reassuring words, dear Takami. I am so grateful that I found you and your wonderful blog. Your photos always teach me something new about nature, make me think, and illuminate the wonders of life. Thank you. Sending my gratitude and best wishes. 💜

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Aw this is really warm. I don’t think I can completely relate with you or understand how you’re feeling but that’s alright I think. I can tell for myself that when my grandmother needed care because she suffered from Alzheimer’s too, she wasn’t just a responsibility to us. We learned from her and though it was a difficult experience, I don’t think I would have chosen to skip going through it. We see so little in our immediate surroundings in our little lives that I feel I’m grateful to her for letting me grow inside because of the diversity and challenges she put me through. I didn’t share the most intimate relation with her initially, I wasn’t even that close to her having never spent much time with or around her while growing up. But the last four years that she lived with us, shaped a lot of the ways I see things now and I think it was beautiful. I grew fond of her despite my impatience and mild frustrating repetitive exchanges. Now the stories remain behind like a personal history, a legacy left by her, she lives in those moments we shared. What I want to say is, I hope you would allow your daughter and your close ones to love and care for you just as they might want to instead of feeling bad that you’re making it hard for them. It’s so much more. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your lovely, poetic comments and kindness, Joan. I am so grateful I found your blog. I miss your delightful, meaningful poetry when I don’t have time to visit WordPress. Sending my gratitude and best wishes to you! 💜

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  5. Carol, after working for almost a year in an Assisted Living Home, I understand your concerns. However, I do know that often certain spiritual, mental, and physical practices help many continue well into old age. I think you are one of those people. But, to help you I’m sharing 3 links to my favorite online Chi Gong teacher, an elder Chinese woman. I’ve been doing the exercises for several years and not as often as I once did. But they keep me limber and keep my back flexible. This year she made two more videos, a full body self-massage, and face and head massage. What is nice about these videos is there is no talking, but there are captions explaining how the exercises help you. Let me know if they do. Body Self-massage – https://youtu.be/r8cep17ZMKw Head and face self-massage – https://youtu.be/VgrkkQkSNzw 20 minute daily exercise – https://youtu.be/cwlvTcWR3Gs

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments, Skywalker, and for sending links to helpful resources. I look forward to exploring the videos! Sending my gratitude and best wishes to you, dear friend. 💜

      Like

  6. I hope that your back is feeling better Carol. I share your concerns about care – the care system here in the UK is not in a great way – one positive that may come of Coronavirus is that it has shone a spotlight on these essential services, so that I can hope they’ll be better if I need them in future.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Andrea, and for your thoughtful observations and reflections about one of the positive outcomes of COVID-19 – the exposure of the inadequacies of the care systems in the UK (and US) and the obvious compelling need for improvement. Sending my gratitude and best wishes to you. 💜

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, Pam. It’s such a gift to hear from you! I agree. It’s not easy to accept limitations – at any age. Yet, I have much to be grateful for and few reasons to prove I can physically do what younger folks can. I am humbled when remembering the presentation of a young man who lost the ability to use his arms and legs due to an accident. He advised the audience to remember we are all only temporarily-abled. Wise words, and hard-won.

      Sending my gratitude and best wishes to you. 💜

      Liked by 1 person

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