Tag Archives: mom

Good Memories vs Current Realities

I’ve had coffee, lunch or drinks with several girlfriends lately and the topic always comes up about my mom living with me. All four of my friends have lost their moms, one 20 years ago, the others no less than 10 years ago. And they all say to me, in one way or another, “I really miss my mom but I read your blog and I’m thankful.” And then they all apologize for, as they have said, “sounding horrible.”

It’s not horrible. It’s reality. And what they’re really saying is this:

“Mom, I’m so glad I don’t have to see you living with dementia, forgetting what you ate for dinner, what we enjoyed or talked about the day before, or who you voted for on Dancing With the Stars. Instead, I like remembering the dinners we shared, the things we talked about, and the fact that nobody watched Dancing With the Stars back then because none of us had to think about such ridiculous things as reality TV.

And mom, I’m so glad that I don’t have to see you walking down the stairs in pain, grunting when you get out of a chair because it’s such a struggle for you to get up, or refusing to go on a walk because, quite frankly, your legs can’t carry you. Instead, I’d rather remember you bounding down the stairs, relaxing in a chair because you wanted to snuggle up and read a book, or walking with me to all the stores in the Mall — because you could and we did.

And yes, mom, I remember you driving all us kids to the beach in your little Rambler. We’d stay from dusk to dawn. You were fearless. But if you were here today, you wouldn’t be driving, and you’d resent not having your independence. That would be heartbreaking for me to see. Oh, and when I picked you up to take you to the doctor or to dinner, you’d be telling me how to drive, when to stop for lights, and when to brake. Like you did when I was 16. That would just drive me crazy.

Mom, I like remembering you without a cane. Or a walker. Or taking high blood pressure medicine or cholesterol medicine or whatever medicine might be required these days. I prefer remembering you taking a One-a-Day vitamin. And that’s it. If you were here now, I’d worry about you cutting you pills in half, not taking the proper doses, stopping your medicine all together, or fighting with me about what the doctor told you to take and how.

That doesn’t mean, Mom, I don’t miss you every single day. It just means that my memories of you are of a younger you. That’s not so bad. And what I’ve also learned is that your loss could be far worse. I could have you here and you might not remember me.”

So to my girlfriends I say:

“We are all given what we can deal with. Sometimes life hurts, sometimes it’s downright awful, but most of the time it’s damn good. Let’s all be thankful for our  experiences in life. It’s what makes us who we are. And you’re right, your mom would drive you crazy when she tells you how to drive. Just ask me about that. I have a few good stories.”

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Betty White Has Nothing on You

One of my neighbors met my mom. They chatted it up, had a few laughs. As my neighbor was walking away, she stopped and said: “Betty White has nothing on you.”  I’m here to tell you, that is the ultimate compliment, the nicest thing you can say to an 88-year-old woman.

At 89, Betty White is at the peak of her long career. She’s outlived all her cohorts on the Golden Girls, she still drives, she’s is an animal lover and volunteer at the Los Angeles Zoo, and she stars in “Hot in Cleveland.” As the host of Saturday Night Live last May, she wowed everyone with her wit. A recent article I read about her in the New York Times says she’s going to be hosting a reality show this fall on NBC. Betty White is living testament to the fact that life can be very, very good after 80.

But what I found most endearing about Betty White in this article was her vulnerability. When she talks about losing the love of her life, husband Allen Ludden, you can feel the ache in her heart. She talks about missing that human touch, that intimate contact. See, even Betty White is lonely. And human. And struggles with the same emotional issues as any senior citizen.

Because of this, Betty White is an inspiration. So next time you want to make a woman in her 80s feel great about herself, tell her that “Betty White has nothing on you.” And watch her beam.

(If you’re interested, the article in the NY Times can be found at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/01/arts/television/betty-whites-post-80-career-high.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=betty%20white&st=cse.)

Three Generations Under One Roof

It is Mother’s Day and I am sitting here reflecting on the past year. Last May, I knew that I would be moving my mom to Raleigh to live with us. What I didn’t know was that my 25-year-old daughter Lauren would be moving back to Raleigh for a new job.

Since Lauren was in the middle of a sublease in Aspen, she rented her apartment with the furniture in it. So guess what? She had no choice but to move back home for the interim. With her little puppy Henri. And camp out in our study. For three months.

So what is it like having three generations of strong-willed, passionate, perfectionists living under one roof? Do you really need to ask?

Really, most of it has been fun. Lauren and I love to cook so we take our weekly trip to the Farmer’s Market, make these elaborate meals together, and pick out good wines to match. We take our dogs on walks together, talk. We’re both busy with work, sometimes burning the midnight oil until … well … midnight.

But there’s tension. Mom thinks she’s the boss. She tells us when to cook and how to chop the veggies, comments on our clothes and hair, laments when we don’t put on lipstick. And more. (Today’s example: Mom says, “Lauren, I saw your recipe and it says that your cake takes three hours to make. You better get it started now.” Well, it’s 12:30 and we’re eating dinner at 7. Lauren says, “I’ve got it under control, Grandma.” Mom, “Well, I’m just reminding you.” Five minutes later, she says the same thing. You get the picture).

Lauren is a little bit bossy herself. I remember when I was 25, I thought I knew everything. It’s only later that you figure out that your parents are a little smarter than you give them credit for. So she’s at that stage where she’s asserting her independence. And she’s not afraid to take charge or speak her mind. (Example: Moms reading this don’t need an example. You know exactly what I’m talking about. Enough said.)

And then there’s me. I admit,  I like to do things my way. I’m really independent, have been since I moved out of my house at age 19. Now I’m 54 and I really don’t need my mom telling me what to do. But that doesn’t stop her. So I’m learning to listen to her “suggestions,” say something like, “Thanks, mom, for the suggestion,” and then go do what I want. It’s better than getting into it with her. (Example: I say to mom and Lauren, “Enough out of both of you. You think you’re the boss, mom. And Lauren, you think you’re the boss. Well, I have news for both of you. This is my house and I’m the boss. So both of you knock it off right now.” Then I walk away and mom sticks her tongue out at me. Highly effective.)

Lauren has now moved to her own apartment. But she’s here today for Mother’s Day. The dogs are chasing each other around the house, barking. The TV is on too loud because mom can’t hear it otherwise. Lauren just discovered she forgot buttermilk for the cake. She’s running out the door, leaving a mess in the kitchen, and yelling these instructions: “Don’t touch anything. I’ll be right back.” Mom is yelling, “See, I told you to start the cake earlier.” The phone is ringing. Mom’s “offering a suggestion” about how to get the dogs calmed down.

Ah, the joys of family. But I wouldn’t change a thing. There’s something to be said about three generations under one roof. It’s never dull. Just ask my husband.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Mom Meddles With Meds

What would make someone modify their medication despite doctor’s orders? Mom seems to be a master at this.

I’m sure other seniors (and their caretakers) are going through this. My mom’s high blood pressure pills are no longer being manufactured so her doctor prescribed another medication plus a separate diuretic.  So Mom takes the diuretic, is up several times during the night to go to the bathroom, and decides the medicine is too much.

I call the doctor’s office, we set up an appointment, and he instructs her to take the diuretic for the remainder of the week until we come to see him. She tells me she’s not going to take it. I insist, reminding her that the last time she didn’t take a diuretic, her ankles blew up like sausages and her blood pressure shot up to scary levels.

“Oh yeah, I remember that. I don’t want that to happen again,” she tells me. I believe we have agreement. What she doesn’t tell me is that she decides on her own to cut the CAPSULE in half and take what she wants. Of course, I learn this in the doctor’s office when she tells the nurse what she’s been doing. (Said nurse gave her “the look,” if you know what I mean.)

Wow. Bad for two reasons. You can’t control your medication levels by cutting a capsule in half. And capsules work in certain ways … you change the way the medication enters your body and therefore the way it is meant to perform. The doctor explains this patiently but firmly. He asks her to try the medication he’s prescribed for at least six weeks. She agrees. Three days later, the new diuretic is working perfectly.

I now find I’m watching my mom’s medicine intake. I don’t like to have to do this, but I don’t feel like I can trust her to take the pills she’s supposed to take. Years ago, she decided she didn’t need to take B 12 anymore. That didn’t work out so well. It almost killed her and it contributed to her memory loss. She decided years ago to cut her thyroid pill in half and take part of it during the day and the other half during the evening. That didn’t work out so well, either. She gained 20 pounds. Finally, the doctor discovered what she was doing and that got straightened out.

Recently, when she threatened to quit the high blood pressure pill, I said, “OK, mom. But then you suffer the consequences. Your blood pressure will skyrocket and you’ll end up in the hospital.” (Hey, scare tactics were known to work on me when I was a kid.)

I’m writing this blog because I’m at a loss. If you have a suggestion on making mom take her meds, let me hear it!