Sunday, February 10, 2008

Catching Up - and Some Haikus

After a long day I have finally found some time to catch up on my blog reading and even post this brief entry.

We have been so busy visiting DH's dad in the hospital and his mom in the nursing home that I hadn't even heard the news that Obama swept the Louisiana primary and caucuses in Nebraska and Washington State on Saturday until now. According to the Associated Press, Obama and Clinton are nearly tied in the delegate race (Clinton 1,064 and Obama 1,029, when the Super Delegates are included.) Next up - Maine!

It has been hard to concentrate on the election with everything else going on this week. The situation with DH's parents is a real wakeup call for us; when you are only in your 50's you don't really believe in your heart that you will ever be old and frail. But this reminds us that the time will come, assuming we make it to old age.

In our case, we don't have children, so when I think ahead to our future, it looks rather precarious. After all, we have been the ones taking care of our elderly parents and relatives: talking to their doctors, making arrangements for care, helping with daily tasks. There may be no one doing that for us.

There isn't a lot we can do about it at this point unless some kind of miracle birth takes place, so we may need to look into long-term care insurance - or save a lot more money - if we want to make sure we receive proper care when we reach that stage of life.

Since I've been in a somber mood as a result of the events of the past few days, I'll end with a few haikus that reflect some of my thoughts and observations.

Crows hunch in bare trees
Pale sunlight streams through the air
Winter is so cold

Her mind is going
His body is growing weak
Aging is so hard

Love is forever
Together for sixty years
Now they are apart

The house is empty
Two glasses on a table
No one to drink them.


Freida Bee said...

I'm sorry to hear about your and your family's recent difficulties, mauigirl. My uncle is in his final months right now and my mother has a more long term terminal illness. These are the sadder aspects of life that I just hate, frankly. I'd love to be taking care of my mother into her old age. My great grandmothers lived to their late nineties and my grandmother is in her eighties. I just assumed it would be that way with my mother.

Mauigirl said...

Freida, so sorry to hear about your mom and uncle. And you are right - we are lucky to have had the opportunity to see our parents live into old age. I just wish everyone could die peacefully and suddenly in their sleep instead of the "long good-bye" of Alzheimer's Disease. My father had it too, but he was luckier - we didn't notice any symptoms until he was nearly 90. My mother-in-law has been noticeably affected by it since she was in her early 70's and now the symptoms are accelerating rapidly (she's 79).

denverdoc said...

Somber mood indeed! Your sad haikus give me chills. I so know the despair that accompanies being the caretaker(s) of aging loved ones. What a sober reminder of life's end, lots of thoughts about what's it all about anyway.

The antidote to despair is ordinary life. Don't know where I read that, but so true. I hope day to day life intervenes with a resumption of joy.

M said...

I worry about that too. We don't have children either, and as it is are isolated from family, living far away from all our relatives and seeing them so very rarely. It's something I've wanted to write about for a while now. I can't bear the thought of living in a nursing home or having an extended hospital stay (bad experiences with hospitals, and institutions--not the mental kind!). I wish I had the same security my grandparents had of knowing there's tons of family around to help out and support one another in all stages of life. This is something that really scares me and I think being chronically sick anyway at a fairly young age, I tend to think about it more than I'd like. I understand your somberness, for sure.

Tom Harper said...

Sorry about the situation with your father-in-law and mother-in-law. Hope things are improving.

I'm in the same situation as far as having no kids. When my wife and I get old and -- well, maybe if I just keep blocking those images, it won't happen.

Nice haikus.

Who Hijacked Our Country

Anonymous said...

Mauigirl - In your brief post, you make clear the dilemma of people caring for their parents. It's so hard when the caregiver role shifts. I hate that you all are going through this now.

Your haiku are lovely, if sad, portraits of your life today. I'm glad you took the time to write them.

Leslie: said...

We already went through all this with my mother and father. Mom passed away in 02 from Alzheimers and Dad went on to live independently until Jan. 06 when he had two severe strokes. We had to put him in a care home until he finally joined Mom in Sept 06. I'm grateful I have two daughters who will care for me as lovingly as I did for my parents. I don't know what I'd do if I didn't have them.

Suzi Riot said...

Mauigirl, just want to send some supportive thoughts your way. Both of my parents have major surgeries coming up in the next month, and it's even little comments of support from my friends that get me past the anxiety.

Larry said...

Sometimes the only way to survive the tough times is to remember the good.

The Future Was Yesterday said...

We are the only industrialized country in the world that treats it's old in such an uncaring fashion.

Anonymous said...

MG - those were lovely and melancholy haiku.
And I'm sorry to hear about your in-laws.

My parents are both in their 80s and live with my older brother who keeps on eye on them. But it's not easy because they are quite frail and my brother and his wife both work full-time jobs.

Speaking for myself, though, I could never bring myself to impose on my three children in that way when I reach my parents' age. It's bad enough that the insurance, health care, and pharmaceutical industries get rich of off the elderly, I don't need them going bankrupt just to keeping me alive.

Rhea said...

I have some of the same fears. No children. I am going to try to stay good and healthy.

TomCat said...

Maui, you and yours are in my thoughts and prayers to weather this difficult time.

Mauigirl said...

Thanks, everyone, for all your comments.

Femaildoc, it is hard to deal with, for sure - and I know you understand what it's like. And we start to focus so much on their care that, to your point, we need to remember to keep living our own lives and enjoy the time we can in between tasks.

M, I know, it's hard not to think about especially in our situations, not having kids. Although I haven't had chronic illness as you have, I have had my share of hospital experiences (both my own and others') and without having an advocate by your side it is hard to even get the care you need. I often think it would be a great business or service that could be offered to people to become their medical advocate and sit by you at a hospital or visit you at a nursing home just to make sure things are going well.

Tom, I know what you mean - avoidance has always been my method too!

DCup, thanks, I felt a need to express some of the sadness that I can see my father-in-law experience as he starts to come to terms with the situation. And of course our own feelings as well.

Leslie, so sorry to hear about your parents; I'm glad you have loving children who will help you through your senior years.

Suzi, thanks for your support, and I hope all goes well for your own parents. I'll be thinking of them as well and sending positive thoughts your way.

Larry, good point - I find now that my own dad is gone (who also ended up in a nursing home with Alzheimer's, but not until he was 90) I'm remembering his younger days and all the memories we shared, rather than his last days when he was no longer himself. You are very right, we must remember the good times.

Future, you make an important point as well. We are in the process of figuring out the best solution for my mother-in-law - which of course would be to live at home with the care she needs, without spending all of their money. The way Medicaid works is really not a supportive system and there should be a much better way to care for our elderly.

Spartacus, thanks for your thoughts and comments. I'm glad that your parents are being taken care of by your brother. I know what you mean, it is a dilemma when it comes to our own old age; in our case, there is no one to impose on, so I guess we'll have to arrange for things ahead of time!

Mauigirl said...

Rhea, I know - I have that same plan. But I'm afraid I don't do much to implement it - that is, exercise and lose weight! ;-)

Tomcat, thanks so much for your support. At least my father-in-law is doing better now so he should be OK and then we can figure out what to do next.

GBP })i({ said...

Those haikus are so sad, and so true.
And I know what you're thinking... I'm not even 40 yet but I have no kids and who will take care of me if I end up with Alzheimer's?

Mauigirl said...

Bert, I've been thinking of you as we are going through all this, as I know you can totally relate to our situation. I think we'll need to figure out what to do ahead of time in case we end up in the same situation. Fingers crossed that a cure will be found!

Fran said...

Continuing good thoughts coming your way...