Maribeth Doerr

Shades of Healing ~ Creating a Wholehearted Life

A Personal Tsunami

on August 8, 2011

Since February, I was concerned about my parents’ living situation. Mom was tired and not able to wait on Dad like she used to. She was frail, not feeling well, and refusing help. Dad’s memory issues were more apparent, and we had taken him to the hospital on Father’s Day night with either a mild heart attack or a gallbladder attack; the doctors were never sure.

Shortly after that, my prayers were answered when my parents’ pastor got involved, and we all had a meeting to discuss assisted living options. Everyone was so kind, and I was filled with more hope than I’d felt in months. Mom told everyone Dad was resistant to the move, but honestly, it was Mom. Dad would have gone wherever she did as long as she was with him. Mom didn’t want to leave her condo of nearly 20 years. She struggled with the huge change such a move would be and she thought maybe hiring a weekly cleaning service would be enough.

My youngest son had always had a special relationship with his grandma. He and I were planning to visit Mom soon while Dad was golfing so we could speak privately. We thought perhaps we could convince her to move in with us, and my two sons could move into their condo – just swap places. The boys were excited since the condo is closer to their college, and my parents would be safe and looked after. I knew I was in for a battle because every time I mentioned their moving in with us, Mom would adamantly refuse. “You don’t know what you’d be getting into!” she’d say over and over. She was so fiercely independent and hated to ask and receive help.

Chad and I never got the chance for that discussion. My mom died in her recliner chair, apparently while napping, on July 30. Dad was napping upstairs and came down a few hours later to find her. We had recently disconnected our landlines and Dad couldn’t find our phone number. He managed to call 911 and handle all of that alone. When they took Mom away, he drove to my house with a man from social services following him. They wanted to be sure he got here safely and that he really did have a family because he obviously couldn’t live alone.

When Dad came in that day, he just blurted it out . . . “Your mother died this afternoon.” My mind was thinking she was ill and in the hospital or something else but not the D word. It was a shock and yet it wasn’t. She was SO tired and frail. Both of my brothers have died, and my sister-in-law died this past February. Mom was brokenhearted and weary. As Pastor said at her funeral, she was “soul weary.”

So now it’s nine days later, and we’re moving Dad in with us. We slept in my house for the first time last night, and he was up at 4am looking for something but he had no idea what. He’s upset about the change in location of his medication and his breakfast items. He couldn’t figure out where his clothes are in their new locations even though we tried to create his new set up like home. Hopefully it will become familiar soon but such changes are so traumatic in people with memory issues.

All we can do is try our best and call upon help when necessary. I learned a huge lesson from Mom – ASK for and be willing to receive help!

I’m writing this in a Starbucks while Dad golfs. It’s still too early for phone calls to figure out his prescriptions so I’m taking a bit of “me” time. The workers are all laughing, and it sounds so nice! I cleaned out my purse and found a little feather so I know my angels are with me, as hard as this is.

And I’m struck by a question in the midst of all this chaos . . . when will I have time to grieve for my mom? She was the only female in my daily life surrounded as I am by men (I have no sisters or daughters), my confidante. Dad’s needs have to come first right now and my life has drastically changed . . .

One Response to “A Personal Tsunami”

  1. Maribeth what a wonderful written blog. This is so important to continue releasing. And writing is a great way as we know. We know this is a very hard time. Please know we are here for you. Keep writing sweet spirit. We love you…Sandye and Arthur

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