Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Designated Daughters

Description:  Any females who find themselves now in a position in life to parent a parent(s). Typically, if you find yourself carrying two purses, and/or a walker, going to the offices of doctors who aren't yours, picking out clothes for your parent to wear, placing medicine in daily dose containers, reminding them to take their meds, balancing 3 bank accounts and only have one yourself, paying utility bills for another address not yours, laughing and crying at the same time, then YOU are a Designated Daughter!   (There are also Designated Sons.  If you find yourself carrying a purse and it isn't yours, you are a Designated Son).

OCCC: Officer in Charge of Closet and Clothes. 
OCPB: Officer in Charge of Paying Bills:
Office: Your car.
Outlet for frustration: Primal Screams are good!
Prayer: That we are lucky enough to have one or two DD OR DS.

It's true. We become the parent, and the parent becomes the child.

'Monday's with Mom,' as it has become known far and wide, are interesting, frustrating, loving, and down right funny.  For instance: Our Mom can't pickup a kleenex, but she can put up an ironing board, no matter how many times I take it down. Why? Because Mom has decided that the bed/ironing board are now made for clothing storage.

When we were children, if our clothes were not hang up, and as much as a sock was on the floor of our bedrooms, hell broke loose. Now, our dear Mother refuses to pick-up, much less hang-up, her clothes. After a lecture this morning, and instructions to go into the bedroom and hang up her clothes, she went right out the door telling me she would do it later, as it was 'Happy Hour' time.

Now, we as children are telling our Mother to pickup her clothes and hang them up. The only difference is we were grounded if we didn't hang up our clothes and clean our rooms, and Mother isn't. Hmmm, maybe no bingo for a week would do the trick.

Then there are the phone calls of distress. Mom calls, we rush there. We immediately go to the ER, because of course she is on the verge of something terrible. We get to the ER, and she begins the comedy routine. I know more than once the people in ER have questioned just how serious the visit really was. Of course, you can never not take them to the ER, because sure as heck the one time you don't, will be a mistake. Like Mom needing brain surgery at 3:00 in the morning.

This morning my Sister wrote these words. "I am thinking this morning about my feelings when my Mom can't remember. My first response is to get aggravated. Why can't you simply remember to take your pills first thing in the morning? Why can't you remember to put the plastic trash bag in the trash can? Why can't you simply remember that I've already told you (6 times) about whatever? In my heart I know the problem. She can't help it and I don't want her to be old enough to face dementia. I want her to be whole, I want her to be my Mom, the one who was on top of things and self sufficient. I don't want her to have so little time left to be in my life." How true.


idiosynchronic said...

I was unaware this is one of the things you have to do in your life, Judith. I'm sorry your mother has begun that long hard slide.

Judith said...

Thanks Idio.

We are so blessed, my Sister and I. Our Mom, on her own, decided to move to a retirement center at the age of 86 a year ago. She is living in the lap of luxury, thanks to our Father, who left enough for us to not worry about her tomorrows (the greatest gift he could give his children). However, that doesn't mean that she can take care of her life anymore. It is a huge responsibility that my Sister and I share, but one inwhich we are enjoying whatever time she has left with us. I must admit though, there are days.....

Anjha said...

Judith, thank you so much for the very personal post. It is good to know what you are going through and to be let into your life. Thank you so much for that.

I am so sorry that you have to watch this and deal with it on a daily basis.

I never want to be a burden to my child....sometimes I worry that I already am.

Judith said...

Thanks Anjha. I thought of Seven of Six while writing this because he is also taking care of his parents.

Anjha, Mom is actually doing well, considering her age. She moved into the retirement apartments, and has found a completely new life and friends at 86. I can honestly say she has become the social butterfly of the Villas. She absolutely loves living there. We were very fortunate to have had a Mother who made her own decision about selling her house and moving. Believe me, there are many people there who did not have that choice, and they are very unhappy.

I think the socialization has given her a new interest in life. For instance, my Mother WII bowls now, plays bingo (something new for her), goes to happy hour everyday at 4:00 (God forbid she misses happy hour), aerobic swims, and participates in everything and anything they offer her. For that we are very grateful, as she spent too much time at home with little to do. She would tell you how fortunate she is.

After brain surgery a year ago, we noticed changes in her ability to remember things. My fear is that the brain surgery may have triggered this deterioration. Hard to tell though, since she is 86. Other than that, she is happy and full of fun. However, she cannot manage her life, which is where my Sister and I come in.

Believe me I am not complaining, as she has it better than most people her age.

Now that I am a Designated Daughter, I see other DDs everywhere I go. They are the ones who look at you with that knowing look, and smile.

Twinky P* said...

Good for you, Judith. And your sis. And especially, your mom.

Judith said...

Thanks Twinky. It is certainly an interesting, loving and sometimes frustrating journey.

Of course, my Sister (Jeannie) and I do all the heavy lifting. Our Brother, on the other hand, has dinner with her (Mother pays) about once every three months. He gets to waltz in, have an enjoyable dinner, and leave. However, what he doesn't know is he is missing wonderful moments with her, and sharing in her life. In the end, I will have no regrets when I look back.

Having no children, I worry about who will be my DD. I am sure we all will need someone eventually. Be nice to your kids (wink).

Twinky P* said...

Yeah, Judith, I think about that sometimes, too, who's gonna worry about me. And I have kids. I just don't want them to have to do it. My single woman friends and I are planning on all retiring together in a compound - we'll watch over each other!

Seven of Six said...

Very close to home with this story Judith... thanks for writing it.

I'll write my story someday.

Luckily my Mom is still in pretty good shape mentally to handle a lot of the finances. My Dad is just too big for her to handle. She still cannot put her own full weight on her hip, let alone his 215 lbs.

I will be doing her taxes here shortly.

Judith said...

There is a book called 'Designated Daughter: The Bonus Years with Mom' by D.G. Fulford. It is a quick read. It will give you insight into the remaining years. "At my mother's knee, at middle age, I learned to celebrate knowing what you have when you have it. Each day we have together is one of poignant exaltation - the last dip in the pool at the end of a late summer day." Twinky, those years can be wonderful, even when your children are now your caretakers.

Seven of Six, I knew you could relate with helping your parents. Although the title is 'Designated Daughter," you also would find this a good book to read.

"Designated Daughters or Sons are all over the country, all over the world. We are a secret society of people, instantly recognizable to one aother. We sit in doctors' waiting rooms hold our parents' hands. We hold the coats, we hold the purses, we hold our parents' arms like suitors. We become so close, so bonded, we form a two-person silhouette."

Twinky P* said...

the last dip in the pool at the end of a late summer day."

Thanks Judith. What a great line!