March 27, 2007

Bingo with the 55 Plus Club

Can't sleep, which is a frequent thing with me. As soon as I'm about to nod off, my brain goes into overdrive. So, I thought I'd share a bit of my day. My Mom is slowly dying. Her kidneys are only functioning at about 20 - 25% and her heart is weak. Like most mother/daughters, we have a complex relationship, one that is probably more intense than most, since she lives with us and my childhood was "interesting". Today, however, was a very sweet day, one that I know I'm going to treasure when I look back at this very difficult time. The woman who takes care of my Mom was sick so I had to miss work and be with my Mom. This is not a good thing, but my boss (thank you!) is so very understanding. My Mom was having a good day and Tuesday is "club" day -- the "55 Plus Club" to be exact, so off we went. It is a bit of a big deal, with the gigantic walker, her frailty, my anxiety that she will fall, but we did it! And, yippee it was pot luck lunch day. Lots of food from my childhood. I had totally forgotten about some of that food! My Mom couldn't eat any of it (sodium/potassium issues), but I think she was secretly thrilled that I was there. Since I'm 54, I'd say the average age of the folks there was 80. Without counting me, 85 easy! We started with a Prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. I definitely felt like I was with the "Greatest Generation" -- the Depression/World War II survivors. It was touching -- women named Alice and Betty and Helen and June. Women who worked hard and are now sick but enjoying life as much as they can. Everyone had on elastic waist pants, except the 2 men, who were waited on like kings. I kept thinking about my husband. Will we all outlive our hubbies??? The conversation consisted of: who died who is in the hospital what a great daughter I am for taking good care of my Mom (I took a brief bow...) bingo Speaking of bingo, I won $6!! (Should I invest it in a Bella?) A little grumbling from the regulars. Nothing like a young hussy, and a lawyer at that, to take away one of the prizes. I was good. I did not yell at Emma, who talked throughout bingo. They'd call B 11 for bingo, and she'd shout "11 minus 7" or if they called 0 66, she'd yell Route 66. I swear I wanted to bop her, but she's got lung cancer so I decided not to take her out! If I knew for sure that my Mom had "x" number of months I'd take a leave of absence from work. But, it's complicated. She's happier with Hilda taking care of her, and we can't afford Hilda unless I work. Plus, there's my son's tuition and college and our retirement and my husband's parents.... And, she has an amazingly strong will to live and I suspect she may be playing bingo for quite some time! So the juggling continues. Just slap two slices of Wonder Bread on me -- we may not be the Greatest Generation, but we are definitely the Sandwich Generation!

28 comments:

  1. Joan... my heart goes out to you as you deal with the slow decline of your Mother. Your post is so touching, and sprinkled with just the right amount of humor to ward off too many tears while reading it. I'm so glad you got to share this special day with your Mom. I hope you have many more in the months to come...

    Catherine (Kiko)

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  2. Joan, I am sat here laughing and crying at the same time! I certainly know what you mean about "interesting" relationship with my mother, I love her and resent her at the same time, but I'm learning to let go, she's a great grandmother.
    These unexpected memory days are wonderful aren't they? I'm glad you're taking the time from work and responsibilities to "smell the flowers"
    Hugs to you and your mom!

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  3. Joan, My prayers are going out to you and your mom.
    Enjoy her while you can and remember those days, when she is gone.
    My mama and I didn't always see eye to eye. But I did love her and Now I miss her dearly. She's been gone since 1985 I lost my mom to Cancer and Heart Failure when I was 28.

    Take care my friend...{Hugs to you}

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  4. Joan...I just know how you feel I went through that exact same thing with my Mom....it was a roller coaster one day two days may three days she was good and then she'd fail..it was very emotional...and to boot I was left with my Mentally Handicapped sister who I promised my mother I would never put in an institution that has been draining me for the past 12 years and is putting a strain on my family and marriage....but we will pull through...

    I wish you lots of luck with MOM and cherich every moment you have left with her....because once she is gone you will miss her forever.

    I still find myself when I am upset and need someone to talk to I pick up the telephone to call her and then I remmember oh yes....she isn't here anymore!

    So even though it's trying love and cherish her while you can and make sure you tell her you LOVE HER!!!

    My MOM and I didn't have the greatest relationship and I totally regret that now!

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  5. Dear Joan,
    Thank you for sharing your world with us! I feel so much more connected with you. It sounds as though you are doing a great job of balancing, and obviously you care deeply for your mom.
    Sylvia

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  6. Joan, just a short comment for you to let you know how I am so proud of you for what you are doing and when your mom passes you will look back at these sweet times and smile. I know how hard this as as my mom and I took care of my grandpa and even as hard as it was, it was some of our best times ever. You are a GREAT daughter.
    Cheryl

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  7. Liz-B22-Quack-Quack-Redapron3/28/2007 08:33:00 AM

    Hugs to you, my friend. Know that you are in my thoughts daily.

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  8. Your writing is compelling. I like hearing about the lives of others, it makes me feel "normal" Be blessed! You are in a place where you know what you are doing is best for her and yourself. That's a great place to be. Although my sister was the primary caregiver for my ailing dad, I was her back up and got a taste of taking care of him at times to give her a break. Although it was no easy task, the memories of that time are priceless.

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  9. Joan, Thank you for sharing your day with us, I'm glad it was a good one for you and you will hold it fondly in your memories. May God bless you and your Mother and may you spend many a wonderful day together collecting memories!
    Vicky

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  10. you are definitely a wonderful daughter for taking care of your mom - it may not always be a 'bed of roses', but I'm sure it means a lot to her (whether she says so or not). you will look back on this time later and enjoy what moments you were able to spend with your mom. My mom takes care of her mother as well (she is 93) and going downhill. It's a big decision to take in your mom and I'm sure she is much more comfortable there. Good luck with everything!

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  11. Joan, I was one of the lucky ones who's mom actually got better after a serious decline in health but I remember every moment of her decline and you -and your mom are in my thoughts.

    Kelly Bee

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  12. Love and hugs to both you "girls".

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  13. wow Joan, loved reading your post today. yes you should invest it into a bella..lol

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  14. What a wonderful post... I have a tear in my eye and a smile on my face.

    Congrats on the bingo win! Bella sounds right!

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  15. Joan, you are such a kind, caring, wonderful individual. I am happy that you can look at the situation with a bit of humor - I only hope and pray that you can care for yourself during this difficult period as much as you are caring for others. Sending you hugs.

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  16. Joan, what a beautiful description of your relationship, complicated as it is. You should submit this to a magazine!

    I pray you'll have strength to continue on in your role as a member of the sandwich generation. It's certainly not easy.

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  17. Joan, my heart is with you. I am dealing with a similar situation with my father. I am the only caregiver for him, and since I work full-time, it can be trying at times. Yesterday, he became disoriented and took a fall. Fortunately, he didn't break any bones, but did get cut and bruised. I would like to wish you well with your Mom. Sending you a BIG HUG ... be strong!

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  18. Barbara V (oldstmpr)3/28/2007 11:25:00 AM

    Oh dear Joan...what a beautiful commentary on the reality of life (of which dying is a part!). It truly brought back memories of my journey several years ago, which culminated with a day in which my mother labored to die and my daughter-in-law labored to give birth to our first grandchild.

    Thanks!!!

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  19. Joan, my thoughts are with you, your mom, and your family. I am so glad that you shared "your day". It is hard to be the sandwich generation. I used to teach older adult exercise where I would go to assisted living centers and guide residents through exercise with music. Your description of bingo took me back to that experience. Everything from behavior to names...such great stories and memories they have to share (while exercising they would share the most amazing recipes and gardening tips!) I'm sure your mom was extremely proud that you were at bingo. Thanks for sharing.

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  20. Oh wow - - I so love to look at your art, but today I got to see your heart. Thanks for sharing and I hope you get more days like this. Nise on GW

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  21. Thanks for sharing a part of your daily life with it! Hugs to you!
    ~Angie

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  22. Joan, I am very sorry that your mother is slowly becoming worse. My mother's kidney began failing her about 2 years before she passed on. She was 65. I think I know what you meant by an "interseting relationship with your mother" I had one with my mother. My prayers are with you and your mother. Your such a good daughter Joan.

    Mary

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  23. Joan, I enjoy seeing your artwork...and thank you for sharing your life as well. Enjoy the special times with your mom. Big hugs!

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  24. Joan, you *ARE* a great daughter! I remember going to bingo with my mom, my grandma, and great-grandma, and just rolling my eyes. Totally mortified that *I* was at Bingo with all these ladies talking about who was sick, who had died, who did what in our small town. But now? I miss my great-grandma. A lot. I should call my grandma and mom and see what they're doing tomorrow night. Maybe me, Adri, my mom, and grandma can go play a few cards at the VFW. ((((hugs))))

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  25. Joan you are so brave to tell us about your mom. You know I have a difficult relationship with my mom too sometimes. Hang in there girl and I am so glad you had a good day with her!

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  26. Joan, you're wonderful. An inspiration and a joy. I sought out your blog because I've caught snippets of it before and found it intriguing; I'm linking you in my sidebar so I won't lose track of you again. Your type of blog--real life with a little stamping thrown in, or vice versa--is a wonderful read. I haven't gotten beyond the surface fluff on my own blog yet and don't know that I will. I admire and respect you for going deeper and sharing your discoveries. My heart is with you when it comes to your mother/daughter adventures. We're the same age...my mother has passed...oh, the stories... Thank you so much for giving me this glimpse through the looking glass.

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  27. Oh, Joan...my heat goes out to you and your mom! I understand your relationship. As an adult my mom was my best friend after my husband of course. She died suddenly in Oct. 2006 at age 79. The pain has ebbed but I still miss her so much. She would have loved card making etc.
    So, take lots of photos wherever you go. It sounds like some of the people at bingo would have made some wonderful pages!
    Enjoy EVERY moment though I know what you are going through can be VERY difficult.
    BIG HUGS AND PRAYERS FOR BOTH OF YOU.

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  28. Joan... I can appreciate the very small line you walk when you decide to take care of an ailing parent. I found out 6 weeks ago my mom had cancer. She came home from the hospital with hospice a couple days later. I was, by the grace of God, able to take care of her until she passed away 2 weeks ago. Our relationship was not always good, but I honored her last wish to die at home. I am sure when the time comes you will make the decision right for you and your family. I hope you have many more wonderful memories like bingo to look back on. Peace be with you as you go through this difficult phase of life.

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