Aging and the Aged

Mom&Tori_May 2016-graduation

My daughter & Mom – college graduation 2016

As some of you may have noticed, I have not been around WordPress and my blog as much as before. Lately, finding time to imagine, consider, research, ponder, gather images, then type away in a format and style that is minimally interesting for you and acceptable quality for me has been near non-existent. Well, not true exactly. I could do it late in the evening when I’m fatigued and must nevertheless wake just before sunrise or daybreak whether my mind and body want to or not. And since my last blog-post was June 9th you can see how well that is working. What is going on you ask as you all are banging down my front door? (sarcasm) What has changed?

Answer:  Life.

Life apart from the world-wide-web. Life beyond the internet and technology. Organic life of which sometimes/often affords us little time of our own. The epilogue of one life, the pre-epilogue of another life (my life) and the prime of lives for others, loved ones. This is what has changed.

“The Earlier Revision Needs Revising”

Around 1997 shortly after marrying, Mom and her second older (and quite wealthy) husband found a luscious 2,850-ish sq. ft. Ranchita-home on 10.5 acres on top a big hill overlooking the Guadalupe River. The vistas from inside the house through 34 windows or outside on the large back-patio shaded or semi-shaded, with daily or every other day or evening southerly breezes… are the stuff of epic tranquility and living. For two hard-working retirees, it was a dream come true.

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And then as they say, Nothing stays the same.

Mom has been widowed since 2006. For a few years after her late husband’s crippling heart-attack which put him in a wheelchair and months later his decline and death, she took the time to enjoy her life more, travel, and spend more time with good friends and family. She absolutely deserved it! She bought a newly used 32-foot RV or mobile home to travel the U.S. However, while doing these five years of domestic and world touring the home and property they loved so much became increasingly neglected. Meanwhile, one of those good male friends became a “very good friend.” They traveled together everywhere. Very good at first, but whose title gradually changed over the last four years to infrequent companion given later developments. Circumstances for romance and the altar which seemed unimportant then, became very important. Nine years later it can be deduced that Cupid’s Arrow — with attached gold ring — had in the end missed its mark.

Another development of which I have shared and posted about here a number of times is that of my sister and her 35+ years of drug addiction, rehab, relapse, law-enforcement, incarceration, repeat ad nauseam. Over the last six years this has really taken a toll on Mom’s mental and physical health. While I was up in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area teaching Special Ed, the plan for Mom, my sister (who moved to the Texas Hill Country very soon after Mom and her husband moved here), and Mom’s “very good man-friend” was to begin serious preparations from the inside of the house to the outside and all over the property to sell the house soon. Of course, the very good man-friend (living over 2-hours away) was not going to be capable of helping more than 2-times a month or less — he had to maintain his cattle ranch of 1,500 acres that he does all by himself! Therefore, in reality it was up to my perpetually recovering sister and my 76-year old Mom. HAH!

Five years later and after finishing the 2014-2015 school year in DFW, I make my summer return to help out. In complete shock I find my sister has moved in with Mom! Anyone who has dealt with acute drug-alcohol addiction of over 3-decades knows that addicts MUST BE at the very least in a daily and weekly program, routine, and support group! Mom’s hilltop retirement resort is the very last place any addict needs to be living — there has been no consistent structure and set schedule for Mom since, hell… 1995! Furthermore, she is not even close to being a qualified licensed A&D counselor! Simply put my Mom not only cannot handle my sister’s addictive pathology, manipulation, and regular relapses, she’s not mentally or emotionally strong enough or cunning enough to manage an addict! On top of this defective lousy living situation, not hardly anything is getting accomplished toward the sale of the house and property.

I become infuriated.

What soon follows about two months later is my sister’s gradual ump-teenth relapse. Due to the pressing overwhelming work and tasks that must get done first in order to sell the house and property, Mom’s inability to PUSH my sister to stay consistent and accountable to an AA/NA and MHMR (mental health rehabs) program, and her hilltop retirement resort being 4-miles outside of town making Mom her only real transportation anywhere… my sister was doomed to relapse anyway! I find out a few weeks into my return that my sister actually moved-in the previous December!  By February 2016 sister has relapsed badly, again, and this time the county sheriff’s department and TDCJ (Texas Dept of Criminal Justice) are done being merciful. She is sentenced to 9-months in their penal drug-rehab program — now the only and last hope for her.

I am now BEYOND infuriated! No wonder the house and property have not been significantly maintained or prepped! I was never told because they both knew how I would react. Funny how we manifest our repeated thoughts and fears.

At the end of June 2016 while at a wine-n-snack get-together with good local friends, Mom unloads to everyone the precise timeline of her absolute move-out:  April 2017 or sooner. How did we lose 5-years when she told me in December 2015 — relative to her retirement funds and trust-fund — it would last through 2021? Everything, except Social Security and her small monthly Mobile Oil pension, runs out next April. I thought my entire upper body just dropped into my stomach when she announced her deadline. This was not good at all given how much needed to be done to and inside the house. I’m thinking to myself trying not to appear distraught to everyone… What if the house doesn’t sell for what it’s worth these next 9-10 months!?

Days later I ask Mom if she’s got any better idea and plan as to where she will move and live. She is no closer to those decisions than she was a year ago. Given everything she’s had to deal with concerning my god-damn sister, it’s understandable.

The original revised plan has to be revised again.

My original plans for a continued life up in the DFW area will have to be put on hold. My regular routine to blog, consider, research, write, and comment must also be reduced or postponed.

Aging and the Aged

The end of this life is inevitable. Everyone is approaching it the day we are born and take our first breath. The average American lifespan is around 78-years old; 76 (I believe) for a man, 81-83 for a woman. Therefore, somewhere around our 40’s is the halfway point. In the better scenarios the late 40’s. As those older dear ones and loved ones begin to pass away around you, one cannot help but reevaluate, reflect, and remember what makes us truly alive so that death isn’t so painfully unwelcomed. What should our final decade of life be? Of what should it consist?

Mom_July 2014

Mom, July 2014

These last four years I have noticed how much more my Mom has aged. If this rate continues, she is in her last 5-7 years — and that might be optimistic. And that reality forces me to pause and prepare. It forces me to reevaluate, reflect, and remember what, on a soulful level, is TRULY important. For that single reason… death should not be such a total stranger.

Over the last six years I have gotten to know my Mom in ways and to levels I likely would not have been able living 5-hours and 320-miles away 300-days a year. Many of those days have been fun and hilarious — her senility can be quite entertaining along with her sense of humor that has enjoyably not waned as a result. Though I am increasingly managing and helping her with her weekly and monthly responsibilities, these last couple years have noticeably aged me. For all intents and purposes, I am becoming a one-man team if not already there. And this will probably not change anytime soon, or it could change tomorrow… all things considered.
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Do you have aging or aged parents? What have been or what are your experiences? How does it effect your own life? Why do family members these days live so far apart? I may not be able to quickly reply to your thoughts and comments, but I am curious to read them if you’re inclined to share!

Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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19 thoughts on “Aging and the Aged

  1. I feel for your mom. Hopefully you will be able to sort her situation out quickly before the deadline hits.

    I was reading and thinking how strange that the average age is that low in the US. My father was supposed to live until his 70s and he is now 84 and his health has improved. Two years ago he was given for not being able to live beyond a couple of months. He was unable to walk, shower or even eat on his own and had to be spoon-fed. I had brought him to my house in order to ensure that at least he does not die alone. This was back in April 2014 and within 2 months he got much better. He now regularly walks around and sometimes even cooks for himself and mind you he does 3 times daily now the walk up and down between the ground and first floors of our house as his bed is upstairs but the dining room is downstairs. I personally made it a point that he is only served in bed when really and extremely tired. Sometimes my dad carries out a chair to the front of the house just outside the gate and puts it there to see people walking by. People used to find it odd in the beginning but now everyone just says hello when passing by. It is 46 degrees celsius outside at this time so although I allow him to stay there a while I always make sure he has enough water/juice and don’t let him stay there more than 20 minutes at maximum. During winter he likes to stay there for an hour or so and often goes back. It was a very strange experience to see him go from dying to completely active and very eager to carry on with life. I touch wood that it continues. He even reads his newspaper without any requirement for glasses now.
    Best wishes to you all

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hello Geetha! Thank you for this kind open comment! And welcome to my blog! Is it not obvious we must keep our minds and bodies moving, sharp, engaged, until ‘down-time‘, or quiet-time, meditation, or relaxation before sleep? That is… IF we are physically/mentally able to do these things. I wish your father continued good, happy, peaceful life! For you as well. 🙂

      You sound like a perfect daughter Geetha to and for your father. A warm hug to you and your big heart! ❤

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thank you for your kind words and good wishes and the same to you and yours. I hope to be and strive to at least being a good daughter. Not out of moral obligation or anything of the sort but simply because it makes me happy to be able to bring some joy around me. A warm hug to you too and I wish your sister peace of the mind and heart. Personally I think that is the key to losing addiction.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Personally I think that is the key to losing addiction.

          Geetha, I could not agree more! Your posture toward addiction (and mine?) is sadly not the mindset of mainstream Southern/Southwestern U.S. mental health, education, and socio-economic rehabilitation. To be blunt/candid, we (especially Texas!) spend TONS MORE tax revenues on our prisons and building MORE BIGGER prisons (and many other opulent projects) than we do on public education or mental health. 😮

          Ahh, well… let me clarify: Actually thousands/millions of Texans (Americans?) spend millions of dollars on private education, i.e. Christian educations — a significant amount and number on Fundamental-Evangelical Christian schooling. I won’t mention what specific sector of Texans lead the nation in teenage pregnancies and REPEAT teenage pregnancies from “private” educations. Therefore, I’ll just simply agree with you Geetha in a number of ways I’m sure! 😉 ❤

          Liked by 1 person

        • It is all upside down. Children are indoctrinated to become the mentally ill adults because their spirits are broken rather than raised. How can one expect a positive outcome after that? Any single sensitive person who is then abandoned to him/herself is then incapable of finding inner resources because those have been removed by the indoctrination of similarity. If you ask me, uninformed people are spending your money in a way that hurts all of you and you have to earn it with your sweat and blood but can’t get to say what is done with it. Ironic isn’t it? From where I see it, it borders on tragic 😦

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Sorry to hear about [your Mom’s male-friend]. Maybe for the best, who knows? But still, some things aren’t meant to be I suppose 😉
    Your mum looks incredibly fit in that pic. Looks younger and better than me!
    I often compare the UK treatment of older people ie parents, with that of my neighbours in Spain, where the one daughter and her family live on the same plot, and the other daughter and family live up the street. So, the oldies (86 and 89) have constant company, are looked after, fed, and are involved in conversation and socialisation. From time to time, their strange foreign neighbours turn up to provide variety.
    But Andalucían culture is very different to British culture where we are expected to make our own way in life. Which inevitably means moving away from home, or even to different countries.
    I do think close family can help prolong life, possibly not in the case of the proximity of your sister, I was rather more thinking of the supporting role you have played.
    Finally, money running out is an issue we all face: cue workhouse/poorhouse. No doubt Trump will introduce that though 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you Roughseas. 🙂

      You are very correct about the family dynamics of various cultures. Personally, like my Dad as well, I/we did NOT agree with mainstream American family culture! His Mom and Dad didn’t either — liberal Democrats they were. They and Dad were HUGE on family, quality and quantity of all-inclusive family times. My father was the only one (out of 5 children) to move so far away. Growing up, anytime we had the opportunity to travel those 340-miles to the Galveston area, we did and spent a week or two depending on how much vacation time he and Mom had acquired. Those are some of my fondest memories in my life! 🙂

      Today, American family culture — if anything — is perhaps heavier toward “individual freedoms,” unsurprisingly nurtured by capitalism, consumerism, and Humans Doing rather than Humans-being. The latter is quite polarized to the former.

      I’m sure Mom thanks you for that compliment, however, she might argue with you RS. She thought YOU looked fantastic… last year and 2014. ❤ Perhaps you are too hard on yourself RS? 😉

      Liked by 3 people

  3. I was wondering about you, friend, and sensed something like this must be up. Your sister must have been making an already challenging situation close to unbearable. At least you have some breathing space now. I wish her well, for all of your sake. The end of life stories of both my own parents are complex and wearying to repeat, and yet I can say I came through the challenges feeling more a complete person – aged, yes, but more rounded, more fully inhabiting life’s shoes, so to speak. I think I’ve seen that in many others, too. So often the walls felt like they were closing in as I struggled to deal with end-of-life needs, but in retrospect, I can see they never really were. The one big lesson I learned during the process was not to speculate on the various possible outcomes. A certain amount of planning is always necessary, of course, but it’s all too easy to get caught up in projecting into scenarios that are never going to unfold. The (human) angels have a habit of finding their way to good people. I wish you and yours well, truly. H ❤

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Its so hard, and one never realises when younger how tough being elderly can be, or how difficult going from being someone’s child to carer, ultimately in the parent tole, themselves.

    As you know I spent a few months at the beginning of the year caring for my elderly mother who broke her hip and right arm at the same time. The social care was buggered up and she ended up on a waiting list for any kind of help, but she was in need of it there and then, so I stepped in and was there 24/7 for her. She couldn’t even wash herself or go to the toilet on her own, and that might have been a very uncomfortable situation to be in, but luckily we were already very close, and ultimately, it brought us even closer. I’m lucky too that up to now that’s the worst I’ve had to deal with, you are in a considerably tougher situation, but doing so well, and I agree with Hariod, one day at a time, stay in the moment when possible. I hope things get sorted out soon for all your sakes. You are a good man and a good son. *smiles*

    I hope that by the time I get into my seventies and eighties, euthanasia is available in booths at the end of the street. Like they are in Futurerama, And I’m very serious about that too.

    Look after yourself in all this Prof, I’m missing telling you off and laughing here in the blogosphere.

    – esme waving from upon the Cloud

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Another engaging post. 76? 78? Considered old? Senility? Wow, then I’ve not got long to go! ;0) Better get crackin’ … I know many well functioning elders who are much much older than that. Still climbing onto roofs, making their social rounds. And as you’ve so astutely observed, I believe our 40’s are *meant* to direct us inward toward “reevaluation and reflection” – otherwise, we would never gain any wisdom in this life, no? I’m also torn between caring for those who once cared for us (the task was not my own – I’ve always lived 3000 miles from family of origin, and my sister took up that mantle for our mother for the last 5 yrs of her life) and living one’s own life. As a parent of two amazing women in their mid-30’s, I would never wish to burden them unduly. I’ve considered my options when they come. They include pushing me off one of our lovely ocean cliffs, should I lose my mind and fail to dive of my own accord. If I am not useful, in the somewhat altered words of Scott Nearing, then it’s time to go. In his dear wife Helen’s book “Loving and Leaving the Good Life,” she details their amazing life together. The paticulars differ, but it is very much the ‘close to the land’ life my husband and I share. To every season, there is a purpose … and none of us leave here alive. Peace, Prof, and best wishes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • If I am not useful, in the somewhat altered words of Scott Nearing, then it’s time to go. In his dear wife Helen’s book “Loving and Leaving the Good Life,” she details their amazing life together. The particulars differ, but it is very much the ‘close to the land’ life my husband and I share.

      Ahh, your life-death philosophy is quite similar to mine Bela, and that of my father’s who admired and tried mimicking the Native American cultures of living “close to” this life-giving planet — close to it as an honored guest, not as an arrogant insatiable consumer.

      As far as my mother goes, a portion of her current condition is genetics, but also her life or environment. One thing is abundantly clear about her though: She has LOVED LIFE, laughed plenty, and will pass with few regrets if any! 😉

      Like

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