Sunday, September 6, 2015

Wonder Woman - Aging Gracelessly

Sorry I haven't been on my blog since August 1st.  Oh well, what's a month or so between friends?

Actually, I've been rather busy lately.  As my dad enters a new phase of his life, with the help of my wonderful niece, I'm helping him transition.

Well, that sounds nice and bland compared to the reality of my current life. Nothing in the previous sentences gives you the visceral, emotional, physical jarring experienced by adult children caring for elderly parents as they watch them disappear.

You know my all time favorite superhero was Wonder Woman.  Sorry, Captain America, sorry Thor, I was a budding feminist even as a child. I didn't know it then but I did know girls could do just about anything their brothers could, with a few anatomical exceptions.  Not a popular opinion in those days, but hey, I was nothing if not progressive.

As most children believe, I thought I was invincible. And that attitude stayed with me well into my adulthood. I was in my fifties when the first blow struck.  My mother, after several years of illness, was diagnosed with colon cancer and too weak to take the prescribed therapies of the day.  She could have fought to grow stronger, but she opted not to. She opted to do nothing, so after seven months of being confined to bed she died, holding my dad's hand. My father took excellent care of her with the assistance of Hospice staff.  I watched as he waned with her and worried he would leave soon, too.

He survived the last twelve years since her passing, but not without gradually fading.  Five years ago I made the decision to move across the country to assist him however I could.

These last five years have been calm in places and horrendous in others, watching him decline, watching him disappear and become an angry, verbally biting stranger at times.

So we came to the inevitable decisions, should he stay at home or go to a place where he could have 24 hour care available? I let him make the decision, as it's his life.  I wanted him to have autonomy as long as he could. We put the house on the market and began looking for places he could move. The first time the house was on the market and there was an interest expressed by a potential buyer, he knee-jerked and took it off the market.

We waited another five or six months before relisting. Finally, there's a buyer in the picture, and now the time is coming to move Dad, prepare for and hold an estate sale, and close on the house, walking away from their home of thirty years.

Folks, I never lived in that house, but this is hard...all the memories of my childhood, my parents, my brother,my grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, are all wrapped up in that home.

For the last month or so, I've been cleaning out possessions, marking other things to come with me, as my niece and her parents have as well.  Bit by bit the "things" are going.  It's funny how inanimate objects spark memories, old feelings, make you confront unresolved issues of the past. The latter is the hardest part of all. You fall into an exhausted sleep at night and first wake up to face another day, your natural good humor lasts about ten seconds, until you remember what hurdle is scheduled for today.

My niece and I have gone over about forty years worth of financial records in my dad's office.  We've got eleven giant trash bags filled with them and two large plastic tubs filled with his taxes for the last five years, as well as information for his 2015 taxes...

Dad doesn't keep his ac on very much, so in Florida, even my fit, athletic niece broke into a daily sweat through the process. I looked like a wrung out mop at the end of every day, covered in the dust of old paper. I went home exhausted each day to be greeted by my puzzled, elderly shih tzus who would come sniff me in wonder...What have you been doing?

As the stress builds, I am increasingly short tempered, growling like a bear.  My family knows to back off now when mato sapa (black bear) appears...

As with most real estate deals, we've had some stumbles along the way.  Now we are being forced to replace the roof on the house...sigh. There is a schedule in place for what needs to happen...Dad moves on a certain day, the next day the estate sale people take over the house and spend three weeks cleaning out, rearranging, staging, preparing for the sale...did I mention it's a BIG house with lots of stuff in it?

Now we'll have the added issue of roofers hammering away...I just keep telling myself it will all be what it is. I've done all I can and couldn't change the outcome anyway.

Lesson for all of you out there, never ask What more can they do to me? You will find out in short order. I asked that once, parked at a park under the trees leaning out the open window in a fit of depression years ago.  I barely finished the sentence with a bird pooped right on the top of my head...Like I said, don't ask.

Someday, hopefully when the weather turns, I'll get back to my life, watching movies, reading books, seeing television shows and blogging about them.

Til then I remain a disheveled, perspiring, depressed, droopy Wonder Woman, with no stamina and little impetus to write...

Take care.


  1. Keeping you in my prayers. I've been where you are now and I know it's not only not fun, it's heartbreaking, thankless and depressing. But wilted or not, you are wonder woman and you will survive to write another day.

  2. Thank you, Skye. I appreciate it more than you know.