The Un-Chapter

July 25, 2010

She was on my mind when I went to bed, and she was still dominating most  of my brain cells this morning as the sun rose on a brand new day.

Yesterday brought another difficult conversation. She has made her wishes known and we are respecting them (to the best of our collective ability). For now she is staying in her own home. She is both relieved and tormented. She knows the decision has bucked the system…the team is not happy. It is a toss-up at this point which matters more, her independence or her children. From her perspective neither is cooperating.

Cooperation looks like one or all of us stepping in and fighting the holy crap out of DMV and her primary care doctor…once considered a savior, now a consideration for this decade’s anti-Christ competition. She wants what she once had and the bottom line is just not adding up. If she stays in her house and can’t drive, she is a burden to us (her words) and will probably go bankrupt paying the chiseling cabbies (also her words).

Her 3 visiting lunches at the assisted living center of choice had her surrounded by old people…of which she is most certainly not one (hm-hm, her words). She found them difficult, uninteresting and incapacitated. She took herself off the highly coveted waiting list with no discussion with her fellow team members.

So yesterday, I just sat with her and let her vent…about the ailing neighbor whose daughters have been there day and night for a year(that would be guilt aimed in my direction); how her ailment was misdiagnosed and therefore she has been accused unjustly; how she has asked for a state provided legal assistant for the elderly, and that the DMV is the worst run government bureaucracy since the food rations program of WW II. I agreed with her on every point. I projected myself  in to her cozy food stained recliner; being serenaded by her obnoxious canary that rivals Andrea Bocelli and waved at by her red headed mail man who knocks on the window each day around noon.. asking for so little, yet troubled by so much…how  unjust, undeserved, unnecessary, undignified and very un-rewarding.

So this morning I have decided to write about the UN-Chapter. Ours is coming and  like it or not we are connected by that common thread.  In preparation I want us to agree to see the elderly through kinder, gentler eyes. They are in-fact our greatest teachers. Their fear and stubbornness; their denial and lack of compromise; their willingness to  survive each day with pain and talk as little or as much about it as they need to, is in fact how this chapter has been designed.  Letting go of a parent…

…not unlike a pregnancy that becomes so huge and uncomfortable that all you want is that THING OUT OF YOUR BODY…or living with a  teenager whose need for independence becomes so completely unbearable that you actually buy him/her a car so that they can get the hell out of your home. The bitching, the fighting, the resisting, is all part of the pain necessary to let go. I know she is not being stubborn or a pain in the ass…I see now that she is just going through the necessary labor pains to let go. And in doing so she is providing us a means of letting her go a little more gracefully. How she goes about this chapter, regardless of how we like it, is her job…not unlike an unborn baby pushing towards the light, or a young adult demanding his wings be released by those who have held him in safety…this is her job…to protest, to fight, to face her fear, to teach us, and to let go.

Mission Accomplished

5 Responses to “The Un-Chapter”

  1. lisa k. Says:

    yes. sigh….

  2. gayle Says:

    Finally someone gets it…

  3. amy ferris Says:

    i love you.

  4. Lisa Kaser Says:

    Appreciate reading your telling of this experience. It is a great example of taking care of others and ourselves, loving and letting go and being with the imperfect. Lots of love to you.

  5. anna b powell Says:

    Keep hanging in, dear friend.
    This is so tough and I’m so glad you have an outlet to express the frustration involved.
    You’re handling this in the absolute BEST way possible.
    Love you to bits,

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