It has been quite a while since I have posted anything here and for good reason. We have been going through some changes, some positive and some, well, not so much.
Shortly after my last post, I began looking at senior living communities to see how much they cost and whether or not my mom could afford to live in one. You see, after her diagnosis of metastatic bladder cancer, the resulting surgery and the 4 months of chemotherapy, she really was not able to live on her own. My sister was gracious enough to let her live with her while her husband was serving in Afghanistan, but he was home. Having a parent live with you is generally not good for your marriage, especially this parent! And so began my search. I searched based on the income my mom told me she was or would be receiving and found a place that was in her budget. She moved into her new home in early December.
The first few weeks we spent several days a week there helping her to get adjusted. Then Christmas came, and she stayed with us to celebrate Christmas morning with our family. She was attending church with us and she seemed to be meeting people at her new place and jumping right in on the activities they have there. We were and are all cautiously hopeful that we have made the right decision for her.
Most of January and February has been spent going to doctor appointments to get her established with new care providers. We found a great PCM, and then she left the practice just after our second visit, so we had to find another one. We are now established with a new (new) PCM, an oncologist, a urologist, a cardiologist and have a new referral to a nephrologist. We also have been referred to a neurologist to have testing completed to determine if there is something going on (or not going on) in her brain.
This part has been pretty rough on my family (and my sister's family before mine).
You see, none of us have had a great relationship with mom. Ever. This includes everyone in her life, not just her children. But we have all noticed that she is "worse" than she has ever been. She is not kind. She is not grateful. Frankly, most of the time she is downright rude and disrespectful to everyone around her. This is hard to live with. Very hard!
I am the oldest of 4 children, but right now I feel the burden of caring for mom falling squarely on my shoulders alone. My sister cared for her through her sickest days so far and managed beautifully. However, she is a military wife of a wonderful military officer, and as military families do, it is time for them to move. This is very scary for me because she will be gone. We have become so close and though she’s just a phone call away, she won’t be able to hop in the car and be here if I need her. Together we have made it through the last year together. Yes, she had the burden of care, but she also knew I was just a phone call and a 3 hour(ish) car ride away. They will be in Washington DC by the summer. That is WAY more than 3 hours away! Both of my brothers live in Missouri; one drives an 18-wheeler for a living, and one works locally near their home. They are both at least 14 hours away on a good day.
I am constantly thinking about mom’s financial future. She has not made wise financial decisions in the past. Through a misunderstanding, we now do not have enough income to make her monthly rent, let alone take care of the remaining bills for her house in St. Louis. Currently my family is spending a significant amount of money out of our budget to care for her. I don’t know how much longer we can do that without sacrificing the welfare of our little family. At her current rate of spending, she will be out of her savings by the end of summer. Then what? I just pray her house sells before then.
That is another issue. Trying to get her house on the market and the stuff remaining in the house sold. How? What’s there? Is there something special hidden, tucked away that would mean something to one of us? My brothers have promised to help get the house ready, but frankly, I don’t trust that they will get it done in a timely manner. Don’t misunderstand me. It is not that they don’t care, they do. They have their families and their family activities and mom is “out of sight, out of mind” for them. They don’t feel the crushing weight of the impending doom of mom running out of money.
It is the right thing to do, to take care of my mom. Not just because she is my mom, but also because she is a widow. As Christians, we are told to take care of the poor, the widows and the orphans. Well my mom qualifies as both poor and a widow. You see, if it weren’t for my father being killed in Vietnam, she would have almost no income and no medical insurance. Here, 41+ years after his death, he is still taking care of her and providing for her future. What a blessing that is for her!
For us, taking care of her, is not an easy task. This is a huge life lesson for all of us about doing what is right even when it is really hard! We are learning how to make it through this one day at a time, one step at a time.
Please pray for all of us.