I was listening to National Public Radio when a program came on discussing the problem of people with aging parents. People were calling in with their stories of trying to take care of parents across the country and dealing with parents that are set in their ways and don’t want to be a burden on their children or don’t want to lose control of their lives and their independence. Even when people live in the same city as their parents they have problems trying to help their parents cope with their limitations. Everybody can understand the situation where people have to try and help their parents manage a thousand miles away. But, one caller admitted to having difficulty just getting across town to visit mom.
People are under pressure to get on with their lives and there are times when the job forces cross country relocation and parents aren’t able to change their ways and many times it is a recipe for conflicting priorities. No where is this more poignant than in the black community where the lack of resources are generally far more limited than people in the white community. And there are so many of our black elders who are living by themselves in some of the most urban of areas. Listening to the show I could not help but think about my mother and how my family had to face this challenge.
My mom will be eighty years old this year. My dad passed away over twenty years ago. The majority of my brothers and sisters moved out of state. One brother stayed in the city but he had his own issues of living to deal with and wasn’t always available to help mom out when she needed assistance. My brothers and sisters and I worried about mom and what would happen as we all continued to age. Our mom went on vacation to visit a couple of my siblings who lived in the same city. She was gone for a few weeks. When she got back home she had been robbed. Our mother’s house was ransacked. Not much was actually stolen. But regardless, our concern was kicked up a notch.
One brother suggested putting mom in a nursing home. A couple of other siblings wanted mom to pull up stakes and live in their home. But these are the same people that have a tendency to make our mother feel like such a burden when she goes and visit them. Today, our mom will hop in her car and drive clear across town without a second thought. She really does enjoy her independence. However, when she’s away from home in another city she’s not comfortable driving at all. She’ll do it if she has to, but away from home she prefers to be chauffeured. However, like most people my brothers and sisters have their own lives and they have to go to work and run their children around and they simply don’t have the luxury to drop what they are doing to take care of mom. She will overhear them arguing about whose turn is it to do whatever to entertain mom. She wasn’t about to sell her home and live with them.
When I first started looking for another job I looked locally. When that didn’t work I looked in the northwest region of the country where my family and I lived. When that didn’t work I decided to move back home on a temporary basis to find a job. I loved living in the mountains. It’s really nice living just a few hours away from places like Yellowstone and Glacier National Park. But I developed the theory that if I wanted another software development job I needed to move to a more urban area. I decided to move back home and stay with mom and use her address to find a job.
It took a long time but I was able to find a job in my hometown. I got an apartment in the building directly behind my mother’s house. My family and I moved into a large one bedroom and it is kind of crowded for us. But it is cheap and it allows us to catch up on expenses. It is also super convenient for us to visit each other. My mom absolutely loves to see her brand new grandson, the babypeacemaker. Mom may not enjoy seeing me as much as she might enjoy seeing one of my other brothers or sisters. But it is always nice to see one of her kids regardless. Although we own a deep freezer my partner and I don’t have a refrigerator or an oven just yet so we rely on mom an awful lot. With the apartment being so crowded we know it’s only a matter of time before we will be forced to move. But right now we are enjoying the convenience of living close to extended family.
It would be wonderful if my family and I was able to move and we could actually take my mother with us. It would be nice if she actually wanted to come with us and we wouldn’t have to take her kicking and screaming. It would be nice if we could stay in the area that she is most familiar so that she could keep her independence as long as possible. But regardless I’d like to keep my mom’s safety and companionship a priority in our lives and not just talk about putting her some place where somebody else can taker care of her who wouldn’t care nearly as much.
I wrote this article about a week or two ago waiting for a good time to put it up. Always something coming up in the news to bump it down and postpone its posting another day. But yesterday was rather alarming. Just as I got to work and got my coffee and fired up the workstation I got a call from home. My partner found my mom in the alley between my mom’s house and the apartment building. Mom had just pulled the car out of the garage when she got out of the car to let the garage door down. The automatic garage door has been acting up lately. You have to grab a shovel and give it a couple of wacks before it’ll start sometimes. Mom was headed back to the car when she stumbled. She reached out to the car to stop her fall but misjudged the distance. My mother hit her head on the ground and injured her shoulder. She had a gash inside her lip and was bleeding profusely from her mouth. It was sleeting and ice was building up on the ground quickly. I left work so we could take my mom to the hospital. We were there for about five hours. She had an MRI and X-rays performed. Nothing serious. A sprained shoulder was the emergency room physician’s best estimate. Mom’s shoulder is stiff and will be in a sling for a day or two. She has to see an orthopedic specialist in the next day or so. But a serious disaster has been narrowly avoided. I really am glad my woman and I were there for my mom. I hate to think what would have happened if we weren’t.