My contrarian father-in-law, Dodie, used to say, “When you get old, you’re a nuisance to yourself and everyone else.” “What the hell,” he’d say, “I’ve lived a good life; I’m ready to go anytime!” He lived independently to 91.
Lately, our normal schedule hasn’t been the same since my mother-in-law reluctantly concluded that moving to a retirement home, sooner than later, would be best. It’s been something we’ve talked about for the last 2 years; and, to be honest, it’s been a difficult process for her, and my wife and me.
Our recent Bright move was, in part, to be closer to mom. And, that’s been a good thing– making us better able to respond to her increasing number and variety of needs. We were wanting to honour her wish for independence, within her own apartment; but, her reduced quality of life, due to deteriorating eyesight and hearing, had become a personal safety issue – in addition to her always threatening heart condition. Now, we’re happy because she’s happy – meeting new friends; enjoying balanced, prepared meals; having 24/7 care.
A good friend, having gone through the same process with her aging mom, gave good advice: that no matter how frustrating it gets today, you want to look back and have wonderful memories. And, looking through her 95-year-old eyes, it’s must be sad holding on to a lifetime of photos and memorabilia of family and friends – mostly all gone.
So, she takes it personally – after our trying to sell her cherished furnishings on websites and ‘moving’ sales – that almost no one was interested in her ‘stuff’. Charities will pick up donations; but, to sell at a fraction of their real worth.
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Living on debt: folks riding high on credit with low-interest rates.
People have only so much cash to spare, so DYI (do-it-yourself) furniture and home décor stores like IKEA – despite relatively low quality – offer trendy designs at low prices and, most importantly, easy credit terms. The IKEA “tool” rules. Handcrafted furniture? – not so much.
But, whatever we value, it’s eventually reduced to nothing. As Shakespeare reminded us, “Golden lads and girls all must, as chimney-sweepers come to dust.” I guess with all our busyness it’s easy to forget that our time on this – life’s stage – is a brief moment… compared to all eternity.
And, when her time comes, we’ll miss the contribution she’s made to our lives, including: creating hand-smocked dresses, and sweaters for her grandchildren; the fabulous family quilts she made for our beds; the many hours she spent babysitting; the family get-togethers she hosted for holidays and Sunday dinners; the timely financial gifts; plus, the holiday baking she’d make for Christmas – the kids always looking forward to grandma’s goodies!
Without her presence, all we’d have is fading photos of a bright star that once illuminated our lives. So, during their twilight years – despite often overlapping issues of our own – let’s celebrate our older one’s lives… while we still can. All too soon, our lives will be so wanting without them.