As I have spent time daily with my elderly mother over the past couple of months while she has been in skilled nursing to recover from her bad fall back in January, I have had the opportunity to really observe where she is at this point in her life at age 92, almost 93. It is been very eye-opening for me, and I have given thought to several related topics as we have gone through this time of recovery together.
As the children of our parents, we learn from them throughout our lives, and in the case of my father, I actually learned many things after his death, too, including some that were quite a surprise to me. We learn things we want to emulate in our lives, and we learn things that we want to avoid or change as well. Certainly that is true of many people in our lives, but I think our parents have a tremendous influence on us because of who they are in our lives.
Right now, I am particularly aware of how my elderly mother is struggling emotionally with aging. She has lived with much denial in her life and has for many years now in so many ways, especially since my father died almost fifteen years ago. It is painful to watch her go through this personal struggle, but she is also very stubborn and resistant to any kind of help.
Watching my mother struggle in this area has convicted me in a big way to examine my own life and my own preparations for aging. In many ways, I am quite opposite of my mother and very much like my father, who was the stable person in our family and took care of all the business matters. But in his last few years, he also grew very fearful of aging, even to the point of having some paranoia about it at times. This is a highly personal thing for all of us, and right now, I do not want to be like either of my parents in this respect, or at least as long as my mind is sound. This realization has been on my mind for a few weeks now, and I’ve given a lot of thought and prayer to it.
One thing on my heart is just being strong in my faith, above all. I am not judging my parents, as I believe each of them were/are faithful servants of the Lord. I just have room for improvement in this area, for sure. I want to be so strong in my faith that when the serious trials of aging arrive, my faith is as strong as possible, and I am going to start praying regularly now for strength and guidance in those days to come. Such things as scripture memorization, daily bible study, making good notes in my study bible for future reference and better prayer habits have particularly been on my mind lately. If I am ever laid up for weeks or months like my mother has been, or if I end up living alone without a good spiritual support system, how I would love (and need) to have my bible with pages and pages of good study notes to help give me comfort.
I also purchased my favorite study bible in e-book format, too. As time permits, I transfer notes from my study bible to my e-bible. I rely on my bible so much, and having a little redundancy where my beloved bible is concerned gives me some peace of mind. I have the Kindle e-book version, so whenever I make notes or highlights in my bible on my Kindle, those highlights automatically show up on my phone version, too. That great feature has already been very handy for me.
Another realization, unfortunately, is to not rely on family members for comfort or assistance. While I have been there for my mother, sadly, many others that live here close by have not. Her two grandsons, my sister’s boys that my mother practically raised, have not come by or called her at all since her fall two months ago. My sister and her husband have only come to see her for lunch on Sundays, as long as I made sure that there were some free meals tickets for them to use. This has been particularly troubling for my mother and has only added to her unease during this time, as this is almost the exact opposite of who she has been most of her life. I do what I can for her and make sure that she is well cared for, but I cannot make others do the right thing where she is concerned. I don’t guess any of us will know for sure how our family members will respond until such a time comes in our lives either. For me, though, I think the important thing to realize is that I have no control over what others choose to do or not to do, now or in the future, including my own children. I need to not grow old with unrealistic (or possibly even realistic) expectations of others. I need to also access my own personal situation later on to see if I need to look at other people or ways to help provide for my care, too. That is a sad reality, but unfortunately, it is very real today. I will save my rant on how narcissistic and selfish our society is becoming and pray earnestly that I resist that temptation each and every day myself.
On a related note, this article came across my Facebook feed recently, and it is a great read. I will also say that this is also a good read for grandparents concerning their grandchildren. If I am ever so blessed as to have grandchildren, may God help me to keep this in mind. 9 Things We Should Get Rid of to Help Our Kids
I am slowly collecting a large library of e-books for future reading, too. I love to read, and I hope to continue reading all of my life. Reading brings much joy to my life, and I love to read several different genres. That is making a bet, of sorts, that e-readers will be around for a while, but I think that is a fairly safe bet at this time. I follow some sites that share free and discounted books, and I am truly amazed at how many books I now have that I would dearly love to read, as well as how little money I have spent on them overall. Many have been totally free, and others have been discounted to just $2 – $4 in many instances.
One other thing to think about is when to move into a group living facility. In hindsight, I can say for sure that my mother moved out of her home too early. She was in good health and still drove her car for several years afterward, but moving out of her beloved home to a place with no kitchen was a mistake at that time. She had unrealistic expectations of moving into a luxury apartment where she would eat gourmet food for every meal and have people wait on her hand and foot. It was not to be. Her house sold right away, so there was no place for her to move back to. She gets extremely frustrated with frequent management changes, as she thinks unrealistically of them as “family.” She feels abandoned when people move on to other places. Group living also has its own set of concerns, such as the frequent spread of diseases which is not discussed nearly enough in my opinion. It is much like moving onto a cruise ship, but the cruise ships we have been on had much more concern for the prevention of the spread of diseases than either of the group homes where my mother has lived. She got extremely sick from a norovirus at her previous group home and spent over a week in the hospital because of it. The cost of group living also increases every single year, too, and despite my warnings of this fact, she did not fully grasp this reality going into it. So, for me, delaying a move to a group home and preparing to live in my own home a little longer is something to definitely think about and plan for.
I recently read a quote from Max Lucado that helped me to know that this is a good topic to ponder in many respects, at least for me at this time.
“Growing old can be dangerous. The trail is treacherous and the pitfalls are many. One is wise to be prepared. You know it’s coming. It’s not like God kept the process a secret. It’s not like you are blazing a trail as you grow older. It’s not as if no one has ever done it before. Look around you. You have ample opportunity to prepare and ample case studies to consider. If growing old catches you by surprise, don’t blame God. He gave you plenty of warning. He also gave you plenty of advice.”
— “Abundant Life” – Lucado Devotional Bible, NCV – Max Lucado
None of us can predict the future, for sure, but we are wise to prayerfully and thoughtfully consider what it may hold for us. One thing I know is that I want to try my best to fight the good fight all the way to the end. With God’s help, may it be so.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” — 2 Timothy 4:7