A quiet Saturday

A quiet Saturday

During the weekend there are no therapies, and most patients go home. So I visited my parents, who live nearby, for cake and coffee.

My mother home a wonderful Torta Della Nonna for us, and it was delicious.

But most important was that I spoke about an issue that had plagued me for years: That I feel like a failure, because there are not grandparents. They would have been wonderful grandparents.

My mother told me: “I say this from the bottom of my heart: Everything is fine.”

And she meant it. I felt so relieved. I have no idea why I didn’t bring this question up long ago. The answer would have been the same.

A huge weight was lifted off my heart.

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When parents grow old, part 2

When parents grow old, part 2

My father will turn 72 at the end of August, and even though he is quite well, I notice that he is getting old. He repeats himself sometimes, he doesn’t want to know the details of everything anymore, and he tells me about his plans for his funeral. 

This hurts. But it hurts even more that I am not able to help them as I want to because of my own problems. We talked about this, everything is settled, and there are no hard feelings between us.

My task will be to help them with financial problems. I already do their tax declaration, maybe I will help them with banking and insurance things later. My parents trust me very much with this, and it is something I can do.

So maybe there are things I can help them with, after all. This matter is really close to my heart.

When parents grow old

When parents grow old

I met my father today, and we had cake and coffee. He is a grass widower at the moment while my mother went for convalescent care. At our last meeting before she left, I asked him what he planned to do during these five weeks. He answered that he hadn’t made any plans for this time.

 

This stuck a nerve. On other times, his response was like “I meet X, go to the philharmonie, visit Z.”

My father is a very positive thinking and content person, healthy and mentally fit. He likes to meet other people, and he loved being a teacher. He is very aware of the fact that his life is good. He is thankful for his long lasting, happy marriage, and he is happy that we two finally get along after twenty years of struggling. He will never complain, but sometimes my mother and I have to read between the lines.

Finally, I got it. My father will turn 72 in August. In the past years many of his friends and acquaintances died. Some of his friends became ill over the time. I tend to overlook, I want to overlook, how old he is now. We had rough times, but I still can’t imagine a life without my parents – this is the only life I know.

I have to be mindful of my own limitations. We all agree on the fact that I will not be able to take care of my parents when they get older and need constant assistance. We talked about this openly. But today, I wanted to do something nicce for my father, so I brought him some of the soup I made earlier today. He doesn’t cook very well (he tried to make jacket potatoes without putting water in the pot once, my mother and I will always remind him of that). He liked the idea, but was not sure how he could get the soup home without spilling it in his backpack. Well, they invented soup containers for that. On Sunday I will call him and set up another meeting, we will do my parents’ tax return and fix a few minor problems on their new laptop then. And I will bring a casserole.

Days like today make me realize how limited my abilities are. If I were stronger, if I still had a car, I could check on my father more often. I tell myself that it is important to keep doing the small things I can do for them. Cooking, fixing computer issues, whatever. I know that my parents are thankful for everything I do, that we have a really good relationship now, and that they don’t blame me for what I am not able to do. This means a lot to me. But I would prefer to be my former, stronger, more reliable self.

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When parents don’t know what to do

When parents don’t know what to do

My mother was sixteen years old when I was born, so we never had this normal mother-daughter relationship. We are very different: My mother always was, and still is, absolutely convinced that the world is a good place. I am observant and reluctant since my childhood. I often felt the need to protect her, while it should be the other way around.

My mother is a strong woman. She fights for everybody who needs help: me, her mother-in-law, her mother. Not to forget the many people she helped in the more than twenty years she works as a social worker.

My mother always was a very healthy person. In 2016, she suffered a mild stroke. She was lucky, most of the symptoms disappeared in the following weeks. But she still complains about burning sensations on the left side of her body, which tend to worsen when she feels stressed. It never was found out why she had a stroke. 2017 she underwent surgery to correct a esophageal motility disorder that prevented food to enter the stomach. She still suffers from swallowing problems, had to change her diet and has to watch out for heartburn and esophageal cancer.

My mother tried to go back to her former life after that. But the fear to suffer another stroke and the remaining swallowing problems took a toll on her. Her daily medication is a constant reminder of what happened. She couldn’t keep up with the demands at her work, and it took weeks for her to recover from small things like a simple cold. Her employer and colleagues responded with an absolute lack of understanding, what added to the stress.

My mother is lucky, she and my father really are well-off. She could stop working and apply for retirement pension. But even though she keeps complaining about the problems at work, she somehow is unable to finally make up her mind. Wednesday she will leave for five weeks of rehabilitation, because she is absolutely exhausted. We asked her what advice she would have given one of her clients in the same situation – what of course would be to retire. But not herself, she feels like she fails. I know this feeling, when I finally admitted to myself I couldn’t keep up at work it was awful.

My mother has the right to make her own decisions. Yesterday evening we met with my parents at a greek restaurant, and once more I noticed that she still is so unsure about her future. I really wanted to give her a good shaking. She has to help herself now!

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