hafacenturyncounting

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Archive for the tag “aging”

I Wish I Could Dance

As I sit at my computer and listen to the silliest music ever (but I love it just the same) over and over again (my family get this), I find myself wanting to tap my foot sway my body, nod my head. I wish I could dance, because dancing seems to be a happy thing to do. This time of year, I just want to be happy. I just want the people I care about to be happy. Honestly, I want everyone to experience that kind of happy. However, I am VERY uncoordinated. I am also very aware of this fact and do not want to feel embarrassed by my lack of rhythm. I will sit on the sidelines to watch and admire others. My granddaughter and I dance together, but I am so bad that even she in her five years, recognizes Abuela  looks like she is in trouble so she better sit down. I imagine Kai (my grandson) when he gets older, will stop me as well. Smile, laugh, because I am and I do. They bring me unadulterated JOY.  Grandchildren do that for you.

A very good friend of mine, my Libra sister Tammy sent me a DVD of the Jackson Five cartoon series, now remember she sent the DVD to ME. Well I played the video while I was in Addison’s room(at my house) and she was engrossed on the computer. She stopped and came over sat besides me and started watching. Soon she was standing up singing along and dancing to the music from a 1971 cartoon. I got up and we danced together wildly..and this time she did not stop me. This went on for about 10 minutes solid.

So for no apparent reason at all, I needed a smile today and I thought of Addison, The Jackson Five and how I wished I could dance. Then I realized when those two circumstances come together whether or not I can, I do.

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Old People and Getting Into Heaven?

More and more you see them, Bill Cosby(I know he is somewhat taboo these days but he is a point-of-reference..look up the routine) joked about them in a stand-up routine decades ago. He said,” That is NOT the person I grew up with!” Faces fixed with a seemingly genuine smile, talking to random strangers, and adoring the babies..all babies.  These kindly elderly folk will be given all the sweet consideration you have within.  Then there are the OTHERS, the ones who seemingly DEMAND respect but are ugly and disrespectful. The very same ones who at one time told a young person how “they” must respect their elders. Do you ever wonder who these people are and who they were in their past/earlier lives?

ALL of these folks were once smooth skinned, silken haired, athletic and energized. They were the “go-getters”. Now they are captured by the worn, broken and damaged vessels; some flicker in and out of rational consciousness, but all are left to navigate the remainder of their lives in a condition they certainly did not select.

Funny, we never think about people’s condition beyond what is set directly before us. That is until we are faced with circumstances that force our hands. The elderly gentleman who appears to be homeless in our neighborhood asking for food..we never think he has a home of his own and people who love him waiting there. Yet, if we knew this we would likely wonder why he is doing what we perceive as begging. However, one must be careful there is likely an explanation that reaches far beyond what we have time to examine as we rush to work.

What do you say when the well dressed older lady approaches you, as you sit in the park, and proceeds to curse you for no apparent reason. How can you know she has been a widow for 30 years, today is the anniversary of her husband’s death, and you look quite a bit like the doctor who told her her beloved mate was gone.

You may think the solution is to spend more time with them, or their loved ones should keep them under control. Do you realize these people still have some control and wills of their own? Do you realize that none of us can help anyone who does not want or will not accept that same help? I think these same folks feel “themselves slipping away”, away to a place where they do not know what to expect, and they are afraid. A feeling that they probably have not had, in an overt sense, for many years.

Faith is challenged each and every day; where is their faith now, where will yours be when YOU are faced with this from someone you love. They look and sound like your loved one, but many times the one YOU knew is not consciously in the present with you. Now YOU must pray, not only for them but yourself as well.

As our time continues to move forward, as we forget names and dates I wonder how we will react. I suggest you be kind and understanding when you meet these people, any of them. Perhaps the ones trying to gain entrance into Heaven may actually be us;  by what we do we are determining our fate and we may be occupying a similar “place” in the near future. How do you want to be dealt with?

Twice A Child V-LIVING

Okay,  here we are and we now know,  It is what it is.  Trouble is where do we go from here? What do we do, how do we cope now that life has changed on us, where are the solutions ?

This is a very difficult entry for a couple of reasons. Due to the fact it is the final entry for this series, as well as it is something that I am currently experiencing. I do not know how to feel from day to day. Am I guilty because I am not right there physically, in the “trenches” or does my guilt come from relief that I am not there in the “trenches”. Is my bravery and acceptance a disguise for fear and denial. Do I keep busy so that I am not in a state of constant infantile bawling, because the person I love, respect, need is no longer here with me. Yet an image and a sound-bite tells me different.  What is it like for her; trapped by her surroundings real and imaginary. Moments of being seemingly lucid only to be followed by complete confusion. She is angry, she is determined, and she is afraid.

The process of life gives you 9 months to prepare for the arrival of new life, yet when life ends it is a flash. Be it prolonged illness that feels like it will never end or a sudden unexpected accident, the truth is life still does stop in the cessation of one tiny breath. The deterioration of the mind is a cruel painful experience. Each time I see a lost soul walking down the street I fight the growing lump in MY throat, because I know that IS someones loved one.

Think about scenarios you have witnessed, someone speaking crossly to a poor soul weak and frail. Nurses and doctors along with family members  trying to hold down a silver haired being who is screaming and fighting with ever bit of their strength. The Aging Process can be cruel. You do not witness that poor frail person being spoken to in a cruel fashion telling their child how bad each and everything they try to do is, yu do not see the silver haired person fighting off nurses, doctors and loved ones throwing things when they don’t get their way or wandering off time and again without a trace. You don’t have the “luxury” of knowing the worry, the pain, the frustration, the hurt that WILL take it’s toll on an able-bodied strong human being. Try not to judge as an outsider, as an observer. As a participant, buckle yourself in this is GOING to be a rough ride. There it is life coming straight at you; yet YOU can be blind-sided, YOU can get the sucker punch in your face. There is no preparation for this experience.

I recall aging friends and family members who have been confined to assisted living facilities, convalescent hospitals,etc. I can clearly see the faces of folks I do not know lined up in the hallway or sitting in a chair in their solitary rooms. Some faces cry out for help, some stare blankly ahead. We, the ones left behind search for a glimmer of hope, a slight chance that the person we love will return.. Medical science has yet to  figure out a way to release the mind from the confines it sometimes finds itself locked in. Therefore we are left with that hope, that prayer the one we love will one day come back. How heartless would we be if we said,”They are gone forever”. How heartbreaking is it to know and feel that very same thing. I wish I could tell you how to accept,” My loved one is gone and I didn’t even get to say good-bye”. I cannot. Remember your heart is fragile and so is your soul. Try to keep loving them even if they are not aware, even if they are mean to you…try to remember the love.

 

Twice A Child IV-Acceptance

This is my current situation; I am weak, my doctor has told me I need to take even more medication and now I cannot even escape my reality for a few hours by going out unaccompanied. What would you do? That seems an easy enough dilemma, I say. However, I forgot to mention a little thing I am 81 years of age. When presented with this problem at our own individual ages, we think what we would do at the only age we truly can identify with, we exist in the now. Therefore the solution I come up with, may very well NOT be the solution needed here.

I think get yourself healthy first, that means following doctors orders, resting taking your medication. Hey but I only have one prescription to take, once a day. Additionally, I CAN come and go as I please. Maybe the unorthodox way is not completely out-of-order. Sometimes in spite of things, we as individuals do know a little something about self. There is the basic underlying fear something bad or worse could happen if these restrictions are not honored.  However, we as the helpers have to put ourselves in those elder shoes and realize how the confined feeling would affect us. “Toss caution to the wind”.. well maybe sit it outside so it can gradually pick you up and blow along slowly.

Human Beings will do amazing, unusual, desperate things in order to make themselves feel some level of comfort/self-comfort. Our aging loved ones may hold onto items or a routine that makes them feel like their situation is not changing unless they themselves let/make it change (i.e. needing to pay bills daily OR using that as an excuse to get out of  the house).

Patience,vigilance, and understanding will prove to be your double-edge-sword. Perhaps you will do daily battles with it. Words of caution, you may not always win. Now is a time when vantage points and perspective take on an entirely new meaning, and my friends our is not the only view involved here.

I Need God To Fix This

Having one of those mornings? Well how about”having one of those years”? Waking to the unknown of the day, feeling like throwing the covers over your head and asking the Heavens for a “do-over” long before you know what lies ahead.

Well you have been on this Earth for some 50+ years now so I imagine there have been one or two days like this during your lifespan. This middle-age thing we are experiencing daily is a trip all by-its-lonesome. I applaud those of you who proclaim you have remained steadfast and true to God. This is faith in it’s truest form; do not deceive yourself, for if it is not true your very beliefs will come back to haunt you. Having more than what I deem to be enough or my share of the challenges that make getting out of bed a task, I pondered about this place that I now occupy physically and mentally.

The realization of how every-little-thing was interconnected seemed to daunt me.  My problem solving skills were placed on screen before me. I saw the optimist, I saw conniver, I saw the escapist and I pretty-much saw them in that order. Life is cyclic and I knew that the individuals that I charged with solving my problems appeared in that order, not by chance but by choice. Choices I was making when I told myself, I had no choice.  Then the debate began between conscious and sub-conscious,  is the medication real or is it a placebo.

As the world crumbles around me, I see myself standing in the middle of the road dodging debris falling around me. Lots of near-misses. In an out-of-body way, I wonder why do I bother moving. Surely one quick hit and all of my problems will be no more. The answer is so very simple and basic. I WANT TO LIVE! I am NOT unique that is what human beings are about.

It is NOT in our nature to give up, that is why we fight so hard, for so long, for so many different things. If we had it our way the easy way would, chances are, be the only way. We have been raised in a society that strives to have it quick and simple and why is that so appealing to us? Well that is easy, so we can go on to do more things with the time we already do not have enough of/for. Yet when things don’t go our way, we revert to the childish behavior we were constantly told we have to abandon when we became adults. Sometimes our brains don’t get the memo and the blanket goes over our head, again.

However, we were born to accomplish one great thing and given plenty of time and resources to complete our task. By-the-way YOU don’t get to be the judge of what is determined great. Now beaten, now lost, now confused, where are your tools?  God has given us all we need but he has also allowed time for the distraction; the distraction to teach us the importance beauty, patience, and rest. In the midst of the storm don’t look away, look toward.

Twice A Child III-Denial

I disregarded the fact that she had just told me this same story the last time we talked and that was just two days ago. When she said the trash collector will be here today because he comes on Friday and it was actually Sunday, I barely paid attention. Then she lost her house keys, twice in a month. I rationalized, well I have lost my keys in my purse so that is no big deal. When she told me she had her purse stolen from the exam room at her doctor’s office I was furious! I called the head administrator, I called the local police department, we made out reports. Today I can look at these things and so many others and I know I was in denial. I did not want to face the facts. However, the facts may spare you and your loved one at least some undue duress.

Fact like the most typical early detection is CRUCIAL for diagnosis and treatment. Many factor are weighed in regarding diseases of the mind. All memory disorders are NOT dementia. Alzheimer’s Disease gets tossed around as the catch all for older people with some memory impairments but Alzheimer’s has some very case specific symptoms that separates it from all the rest. Other physical disorders can affect the mind like diabetes and high blood pressure. Pain exacerbates these conditions as well. In our effort to be PC and kind we are calling these conditions out of their name, and it not only puts you in the wrong state of mind it puts others and perhaps the ones you love suffering from these conditions in a misguided, misinformed state. Speak to a medical professional, do reading on your own, and KNOW your family history. The person you may be caring for now could easily be you in the years to come.

This not to say every little misplaced item or forgotten lunch date is cause for concern. One must weigh each situation accordingly; listen to others around your loved one and speak directly with them. Just because you are close to someone, does NOT mean you know all about them.That closeness can be the very reason you are in denial. As our group maneuvers through this era of our lives these are some of the realities we are faced with. Our parents, if we are so blessed to have them still, are in the “twilight” of their lives. Some may live on to their late 90’s. 100 is not as uncommon as it used to be. Some of them may never loose their sense of consciousness, others may look at us one day and no have any idea who we are, and then there are all the variations in-between. However, we are strong and we will get through this, too. Simply be aware.

Twice A Child II-Anger

When you fall from grace there generally is no cushion.  No matter how you brace yourself the landing is rough. A sudden abrupt thud. Examining the some of the stages we experience with this aging process, I think this is one of the more difficult ones, but to be honest one really isn’t better than the other. They are all emotional avalanches.

There he or she is, they look remotely familiar at times they look exactly like this person you know and love, then something strange occurs. You tell yourself how ridiculous this is, how out of character this person is behaving, what you have to realize is they are no more in control of this change than you are. Oh how you long for the person you used to know. At times you may get a glimpse of that individual again, but as unpredictable as a gust of wind they will disappear on you. Then you must realize the look is what looks, are surface impressions and superficial. Your loved one is transitioning and for your own sake you had better try to as well. I am not talking exclusively about death here.

I warn you take you hearts off your sleeves, because these folks you were once so close to, will pull no punches. From nowhere the accusations fly, ” You talk to me any kind of way, You don’t care about me, You took my money, You don’t respect or love me, I wish I was dead.. Venomous hurtful things said for reasons unknown, but then you have to try to understand this is not someone who is completely in control anymore.  I cannot say that enough, because you will be challenged by this, repeatedly and you must be strong for it will take a lot out of you. They are floating in and out of awareness, without warning attitudes and temperaments change. The very next day they will not remember how ugly they treated you, so you MUST try to forget it as well.

I think because we live(d) our lives without being told or being taught it is okay to get mad/angry/be upset with people we love, we don’t know how. We fight back these feelings, we feel guilty about having them and grow frustrated with behavior of ourselves and them. If you have experience in “fighting fair” you MAY be better equipped, but note the word “MAY”. Furthermore, there is NOTHING fair about what is happening to your loved one. It simply is happening.

Try to be kind to them and yourself. Look at this experience as one that shall pass, for it will, and be able to share with another person information to give them solace as they travel the path you have gone down. My BFF is big on random acts of kindness; well the next time you see an elderly person who looks lost take a moment out and talk to them, they have something to say and your listening could make all the difference that is needed in their world. A stranger may have to help someone you love one day, find their way back to where they belong.

 

 

Twice A Child

I think about children running in a park laughing and squealing from excitement. I see tiny cute faces with smiles that light up rooms. There is a side that we see sometimes, when these same sources of joy do not get their way, and reality has to be put in play. These same beings with limited experiences of life now must be taught some life lessons. Then we move on to the next fun learning experience.

Now you have been primed for a discussion about something I truly hope none of my readers have to go through. I also know many of you will and many of you have or are going through this. I can only say, I am beginning to understand. When a loved one starts to loose touch with reality it is a process similar to the discovery of cancer. Many emotions and feelings surface. It is hard to describe the helplessness. Disbelief, Denial, Anger, Sadness,Confusion, and Loss; I believe I am scratching the surface here and the order may be different for we are dealing with individuals.

If I think about it long enough or pull out the obituary I can give an exact date, but the date is not important, the experience is. My grandmother was about 70 years old when she died. She suffered from dementia. I didn’t know a lot about her, she and I were distant at best. I only know of one grandchild she was close to and I didn’t care for him. This same grandson who, in her eyes, could do no wrong ultimately assisted with her demise. At the time Sammy was an easy target, he was all you want in a villain; unattractive, fat, not intelligent but a conniver. My maternal grandmother was an unhappy individual; she had nine children, I do not know that she ever embraced motherhood, for I saw her later in life. She was a stout woman about 5’3″, she had long silky hair and high cheekbones, her skin-tone had a copper red color to it characteristic of her Native American bloodline. I think my grandma was dutiful and of all the things a mother teaches her child if one thing/action/word gets to sum up the experience of being related, that would do it for my grandma and my mom.

Grandma helped out of a sense of obligation. This woman who taught me to cook and of whom I shared a room with, I know little more of her than the story she told of my uncle biting her which resulted in the end of his breast feeding. I cannot recall her saying she loved me or any of her grandchildren, I choose to believe that was because she felt this emotion was understood. I lived with her for seven years with my family. When she grew tired of us being there, she became mean and invasive. She never said,”Get out!” she showed it. Did she intend on being mean, that is debatable, what I do know/feel/believe is she was at a place that told her she should be afforded her way(willfulness much like that of a child) and if she did NOT get her way she was angry, she would pout, be unreasonable, or throw a tantrum. Yet in the end the child she treated badly, was the one who visited and tended to her at the nursing home everyday until she departed this life.

How can you recover from that, will you ever be able to rectify this or even acknowledge you were wrong or sorry. I don’t know how my mother felt about her mother, there was a coldness to grandma and I think she transferred some of that coldness to my mother. Mom was sad and she cried when grandma passed, but as I look back it seems like it was the thing to do, to be sad. I know I don’t want my grandchildren to think about me like this way, and in some ways it seems to be in my DNA. I am here to tell you, I fight this attitude daily and consciously. I tell myself ,” Don’t be sour, no one wants to be around a mean old woman.” I love my family openly and freely..unless they suffer memory loss they will not think of me and say,” I wonder if mom/abuela loved me/us?” I tell them everyday and each time  I see them I tell them it more.

One can believe what one wants, but stress can kill you. Putting undue pressure on yourself regarding things that are out of your control is senseless, it drains the very life out of us. The older we get the more difficult it is for us to return to a normal state. Thus being older and angry is NOT a place you want to be. The good is hard to remember when the bad is slapping you in the face. We have no control over what ultimately will be our condition physically, but what we do have charge over, we should take very seriously and guard it with all that is in us. Be pleasant, smile and think happy thoughts. Once it is gone there really is no turning back; not for you, not for the ones who you love.

October-Fest

Well my Libra friend and I have discussed over the years we have known one another how terrible our shared birthday month generally is. I thought it was just me, but my Libra -sister affirmed it was not a good time for her either. We still wanted to believe it would be better and held onto the hope of such an occurrence. However maybe this year, the year of the “double nickles” for us may be changing things, at least for now and perhaps from now on.

ILoveAutumn; the temperatures start to drop, the leaves begin to change, I am reminded the holidays are on fast approach and I feel renewed. I always attributed this feeling of overall good, to the fact I made my grand entrance to the world during this time of year.  October is my month and I love everything about it from the birthstone, the opal legend says it is bad luck to wear for anyone other than a person who is actually born in October, to Halloween. There is Oktoberfest for beer lovers, I do happen to hate beer though, but whatever, anything to sing the praises to my month! Pumpkin-Patches popping up all over everywhere; I am magically transported back to a place where I can clearly recall the first time I watched “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and now a joy I now share with my granddaughter.

In three short days October will disappear for another 12 months, and this year I will miss my month with all the bitter-sweet events and memories. However, I will be able to say there was far more sweet than bitter this time and I am looking forward to seeing you same time next year.

My Life Through Malls

hafacenturyncounting

As I sat watching my husband and granddaughter ride the merry-go-round I was transported back  through time and space to Torrance, California;  her father was about 3 years old riding this imported merry-go-round with his “Auntie Jennifer” (I even have a picture) at the “Old Towne Mall”. That mall housed old fashioned shops, glass-bowers, etc. ; it never caught on, it survived for decades but it slowly disappeared into oblivion like the “Carson Mall”, “The Hawthorne Mall”, “Gwinnett Place Mall”, to name a few I had encounters with. However, even before that as a teen when the mall phenomenon was just catching on my life-long friend(i.e just like a sister, only our parents are different) Kim and I spent many Saturdays at the nearby malls. We would spend hours there with money that would barely buy lunch, no wait  a cookie and a drink now…

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