Blogs by Linda Lange
I HOPE I'LL KNOW
7/29/2012 11:22:28 AM
A dark story, but common to many.
My relative “Elaine” (I’ve changed the names) is celebrating her 83rd birthday. I make the five-hour drive and appear on her doorstep with a gaily wrapped shirt and jacket, some pretty note paper, and a face that triggers memories of her beloved aunt. Soon her daughter, Rachel, will stop by, and we’ll go out to dinner. Her son Michael is en route and will arrive later tonight.
But the occasion is bittersweet. Elaine is crippled by arthritis and advancing dementia. Both have clearly worsened since I visited last year. She shouldn’t be living alone, but she has refused all help. She won’t hear of moving, and she’s turned down offers of a cleaning lady, a home health aide, even Meals on Wheels. Her house and her person show signs of neglect. ">http://redroom.com/files/u51674/old%20woman%27s%20hands%20with%20cane.jpg" width=290 height=197>But the occasion is bittersweet. Elaine is crippled by arthritis and advancing dementia. Both have clearly worsened since I visited last year. She shouldn’t be living alone, but she has refused all help. She won’t hear of moving, and she’s turned down offers of a cleaning lady, a home health aide, even Meals on Wheels. Her house and her person show signs of neglect.
I understand why Elaine does this. The house is all she has left of her late husband and their life together. After decades of renting, they took their savings and bought this little place, and they cherished it. Plus, leaving it means more than leaving him. Against all reason, Elaine clings to her independence.
Mike, who has made his life on the East Coast, 700 miles away, hasn’t had a good night’s sleep in months. He is frantic with worry about his mother. What if she falls right after his daily call and no one knows she’s injured till he calls the next day? What if she takes the car out and has an accident or can’t find her way home? Rachel lives closer and visits often—but she and her mother are often at odds, and she’s never been able to persuade Elaine to do anything.
Michael bears a terrible burden. Soon he will have to deliver an ultimatum. He will close up the house and prepare it for sale. He will take his mother east and place her in assisted living near his home, where he’ll see her often. She will be clean and safe. No one will be happy about this, yet none of us can think of a better solution.
Last year when we were together, Elaine said something that made Michael laugh. “Why are you laughing?” she asked him. I answered for Mike as my eyes met his, “So he doesn’t cry.”
I’ve thought about what I’d do if I found myself elderly and widowed like Elaine. I hope I would handle it better; I have a sort of plan. I’ve considered moving back to Wisconsin where I grew up, and I could stay in Cincinnati where I am, but I’d most likely move to Seattle, where my son resides. I’d find an appropriate senior housing arrangement and check myself in. My son and I would have our own lives, but he’d be nearby in case of emergency. He wouldn’t have Michael’s logistical worries.
Sometimes I wonder how quickly that time is coming. Maybe I’m just feeling symptoms of stress. I’m scrambling to market my book, my cat just died, and there’s Elaine’s situation simmering on the back burner. But every so often now, when I start to say or do something, I experience a glitch. For a few seconds I hang in limbo, and then I feel a palpable click as the mental gears catch again. Is this just stress or the start of something bigger?
If my turn comes, I hope I remember what I just wrote. As I say so often to Mike and Rachel … if my turn comes, I hope I’ll know.
Post a Comment
More Blogs by Linda Lange
HALLOWEEN AS IT USED TO BE - Tuesday, October 29, 2013
IT'S HER BODY, BUT ... - Tuesday, October 22, 2013
ARE OLD LADIES CUTE? - Tuesday, October 01, 2013
NONE OF MY BUSINESS - Tuesday, September 24, 2013
TOM BROWNING SAVED MY LIFE - Tuesday, September 10, 2013
SOCIAL SECURITY? ME? - Saturday, August 17, 2013
THE TOUGHEST LOVE - Saturday, July 27, 2013
GET OVER IT? - Wednesday, July 17, 2013
EULOGY FOR A SUPPER CLUB - Tuesday, July 02, 2013
I DON'T LIKE TO SEE MY HEROES HURTING - Sunday, June 23, 2013
MEMORIES IN A BOTTLE - Sunday, June 09, 2013
CULTURE SHOCK IN A '13 CIVIC - Saturday, May 25, 2013
BAMBI GO HOME - Saturday, May 04, 2013
WHAT FAMILY DOES - Monday, April 29, 2013
THE TALK - Tuesday, April 09, 2013
I SAID "NO"! - Tuesday, April 02, 2013
BOOMER LIT - Tuesday, March 05, 2013
A PIECE OF MY LIFE, ON STAGE - Sunday, February 24, 2013
I MISS NEWSPAPERS! - Tuesday, February 12, 2013
SOMETHING TO HOLD ONTO - Tuesday, February 05, 2013
SNOW DAY - Sunday, January 27, 2013
KAEPERNICKING, OR YOU GOTTA HAVE A GIMMICK - Thursday, January 17, 2013
STILL SO INTO THIS - Monday, January 14, 2013
A NEW START FOR LILY AND ELLIE - Sunday, January 06, 2013
REFLECTING ON MY 2012 - Monday, December 31, 2012
HONEY, HAVE THE STEINBERGS PUT UP THEIR LIGHTS? - Thursday, December 20, 2012
REQUIEM FOR TWO SPORTS BARS - Saturday, December 08, 2012
THE YEAR WE WERE REALLY THANKFUL - Tuesday, November 20, 2012
MY CREATIVE FOUNTAIN IS A CHLORINATED POOL - Sunday, November 18, 2012
CIVIC DUTY? - Monday, November 05, 2012
FOOTBALL FASHION - Monday, October 29, 2012
GREEN TOMATOES - Sunday, October 21, 2012
THIS BIG ONE DOESN'T NECESSARILY BITE - Sunday, October 14, 2012
THE KNEECAP - Saturday, October 06, 2012
THE ROAD NOT TAKEN - Sunday, September 23, 2012
EDUCATION OF A NEWBIE AUTHOR: LUNCHEON SPEAKER - Sunday, September 16, 2012
A QUIET DINNER - Saturday, September 08, 2012
BATIK AND OLIVER COME HOME - Sunday, September 02, 2012
ARTSTREET AND HOMETOWN PRIDE - Thursday, August 30, 2012
OF FOOD, AND LOVE, AND LOVING FOOD - Sunday, August 19, 2012
NEW BABY/NO PETS? - Sunday, August 05, 2012
I HOPE I'LL KNOW - Sunday, July 29, 2012
CONFESSIONS OF AN INTERNET JUNKIE - Sunday, July 15, 2012
SECONDHAND SMOKE - Saturday, July 07, 2012
BAY BEACH MEMORIES - Monday, July 02, 2012
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, TITLE IX! - Sunday, June 24, 2012
THE CHAPTER MY HUSBAND MUSTN'T READ - Sunday, June 17, 2012
JUNE, MOON, BRIDES AND ALL THAT - Sunday, June 03, 2012
JESSE WHITTENTON RODE IN MY CAR - Thursday, May 24, 2012
THE PACKERS HERITAGE TRAIL AND ME - Sunday, May 20, 2012
THE HARDEST THING I'VE EVER HAD TO DO - Monday, May 14, 2012