Elder Caregiving - Alone and Stressed but Finding Blessings in the Small Things
I feel worn out and beaten down. But I also have enough intelligence to see the tricks of time hard at work on those pesky little things we call "character defects".
They worsen with age in many cases and no more can you hold a retarded or disabled person for being difficult than you can an elderly person lost to dementia and compounded by looming death, loss of friends and family to the same as well as loss of self/independence.
I do not want to grow old I have decided. I probably will not in fact, grow old even if it means I check out after my parents pass away.
I do not have much time before my own body grows elderly and to start over now with no husband, kids that no longer speak to me since my divorce, and a loss of value to this world - is not possible. I have tried and tried but the decisions made to be here following divorce in a bad economy coupled with ZERO support emotionally or otherwise - I see no way out.
I am here to do my best as best I can regardless of my feelings for how my parents raised me or treat me now. They are pretty crappy to me as are my nearby siblings who never help and have so many damned blessings.
I have a blessing of doing the right thing - to help my parents. I guess it is an old school way of thinking but because little to nothing I have worked so hard for ever panned out on my behalf, I have resigned myself to serving them. No hope for my own life.
I cannot and will not put them in a retirement home. It is NOT their fault they are elderly and cannot see their flaws becoming magnified through dementia and health issues. It is not my fault either, but I am the more sane of the two and this is how it is.
I am the family scapegoat and martyrdom belongs to my histrionic mother and narcissistic father as her enabler - not me. I am here to serve with no agenda other than a roof on my head and a crappy prn job.
I find the value of small things to be a blessing of value - giving up my material wants and needs (including medical care). I find reprieve in working the soil in their yard when weeding and meditate at night while insomnia keeps me on high alert for Sundowner's retaliation of elderly wanderings throughout the night...worried that every bump in the dark is the monster of old age springing out of the closet to trip my elderly parents, causing broken bones.
No - it is not how I pictured things. I expect no reward nor financial compensation. I just happened to need somewhere to go as the homeless thing was killing me as
well - and I am a hard worker who just needs to find a job (of which there are few) that allow me to care for them at the same time.
Time is a crappy payback when it comes to the relatively short window of retirement - a slide into being elderly where losing family and friends - isolated by failing senses and independence defy the reason to carry on in the light of our yesteryear's.
Once capable parents who loomed large and unquestioningly right now shuffle in a withered shadow of their former days as our leader into the world. Still shouting and just as scary - it seems a monster has inhabited our once able parents.
I want to call my mom for support, though she is next to me - yet so, so far away. I ask my dad if there is hope for my own future, but he yells at me saying goodbye while waving me away not wanting to talk or communicate. As always and has been - this only worsens with age.
I call out for my mom but she left me yrs ago with alcohol hand in hand. Destroying her health and her mind. Leaving behind a depressed woman full of the emotional intelligence of a child. Full of criticism and negativity that even hello carries an opportunity for her to point out how the world is painted in flat black.
Sometimes - once in a while - I relinquish how things are and find a moment of respite. But it is a lie I tell myself.
When I hear the hard sole click of their adult shoes on the hard floor it rings with the authority it once did when "mom or dad" came home. But it is a lie. The shoes do not have the feet of those people. It is a ghost of them. Filled with complaints, sheltered reality of the world today and contempt for my existence.
They are disgusted for me being their adult divorced daughter. A failure living in their home. A constant reminder of my ineptitude.
So I serve because I know no other way and frankly, when you hear this all your life and divorce such a person, it is hard to know a different outcome try as I may.
How can I miss something I do not have. My own youth long gone. The curtain does not take long to close and my own adult kids hate me for divorce and think I am an idiot.
So I sit in limbo respected by absolutely NO ONE. I have one thing - and that it what I know to be true about myself. I am a good person. I love God. I love reality and the blessings I find in the small things. But I will not be here past my own expire date. I see what aging does and it is not beautiful.