Frankly, my dear...

A place to just Fiddledeedee
JANUARY 1, 2012 3:35PM

Turn Turn Turn

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 It was the first day of November 2011.

‘I’m an orphan,’ I joked half-heartedly to my son.

‘But Mum, you’re sixty-one,’ he replied, a distinct tone of sadness noticeable in his voice.

I needed no reminder of that fact. I’ve not taken to being a pensioner and facing my seventh decade very graciously. But within his simple statement I understood a multitude of things and think he understands them too.

Losing our parents is something I imagine most of us dread and think about far too often. I know the thought has haunted my waking hours and restless nights for an awful long time and far too frequently.  But the truth of the matter is it’s no good surmising, for as with most things in life it never happens as we may envisage.

Whatever happens it’s definitely a no win situation.  In the past most people were without a mother and father by the time they reached forty, but longevity is becoming more the norm in these times. True, I have friends who lost their parents decades ago and feel they were cheated by not having them long enough, but for many nowadays looking after aged parents is a way of life.  It’s been that way for me for almost twenty years and I admit there have been times I’ve wanted to throw the towel in and escape the painful responsibilities.

I read we will be christened the sandwich generation. For many like myself, approaching the autumn of our own lives, it’s a time when the stress of caring for elderly parents while attempting to remain involved in the lives of young grandchildren becomes almost overwhelming and allows so little opportunity to enjoy the years we have left after finishing work.

My Mum passed away in 2008 after suffering the slings and indignity of dementia. It had been a difficult and painful road, yet thankfully her passing was swift, even if totally unexpected. The three years since her death have been harrowing to say the least as my father became frailer, prone to falls, yet insistent he didn’t want outside help.  I think I have spent more time visiting hospitals and dealing with traumas in the three years since I lost my Mum than ever before.

At ninety my Dad underwent an operation for a broken hip after a particularly dramatic fall.  Last February he was miraculously rescued from a house fire and eventually admitted he could no longer cope on his own. Sadly the place we secured for him at a lovely local care home was to be short lived. After surviving so many terrible ordeals it seemed he’d simply had enough and slipped away peacefully on October 31st  of 2011.

So now it’s all over.  The day I dreaded, yet over time thought might allow me some life of my own has finally arrived and I don’t think there are the words to express the turmoil of emotions I’m living with. Either that or I don’t possess the capacity to put it all into words.  I do know I will carry the scars from long-time caring for the rest of my days, yet at the same time will greatly miss my parents and think of them every single day.

Life is all about change. New phases, new seasons, new pastures and inevitably new years.  2012 will be the first year of my life I’m without a parent and if I’m lucky I’ll be sixty-two in August.  That’s an awful long time to have your parents and I do appreciate in many ways I've been lucky.  We all have our crosses to bear and I realise the simple fact of having two parents live to a ripe old age is something many are deprived of.

 I know how strange it will be to not have to think of their needs any longer, yet am painfully aware it’s rather late to make any dramatic changes to my own life. Things will be different this year for sure, but I won’t be making any resolutions or predictions.  Rather taking one day at a time and quietly hoping the wheels will turn more in my favour than in the last few years.

I wish any readers a happy and healthy New Year and look forward to reading many more inspiring entries from the many talented writers at Open Salon.

 

 To everything, turn, turn, turn

There is a season, turn, turn, turn

And a time to every purpose under heaven.

 

Turn, Turn, Turn. – The Byrds.

 

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Ah Linda, I know well what you are feeling. Though I was in my thirties when I lost my dad, my mom didn't pass away until I was fifty-nine. I remember that sudden shock of realizing that for the first time in my life I was without the two solid rocks who had been there all those years. I do hope this new year gives you some peace and joy....you deserve it.
Wishing you peace and love for the New Year. This was a truly poignant piece. -R-
Lost my dad in July. I relate to this post so very much. Very well stated.
My parents both died in 2008 less than a month apart. I still think about calling them and can't bring myself to erase their number from my cell phone. But I don't call myself an orphan because I do still feel them with me.
Sorry to hear about your Dad, Linda. But your eloquence and hope shine through here. Happy New Year to you, as well.
Oh, how well I understand this, Linda. I hope this year brings you much much peace and joy - more than you've ever known. You deserve it.
xoxo
i'm sorry to hear your dad died last year. and it is a jolt, even when rather expected, when you find yourself without both your parents and you're suddenly the (emphasis) adult. i'm your age, so i was nodding in agreement through your well-written piece. i'm glad i followed a friend over here. i'll check back.
Yes, life is all about change. So sorry about your Dad. I, too am 61, and still have my Mom. This is a new year with a new path. Peace & Happiness to you Linda.
A post full of acceptance and wisdom, Linda. Hope your New Year is filled with gladness.
You are so right that the effects of long-term caregiving stay with you pretty much forever. I've cared for my mother with Alzheimer's, lost my sister with cancer, and lost my father-in-law with diabetes/cardiovascular problems.But so do the benefits. (hugs)
Thanks David. I pray for a better year for you and Mel too after you've been through so much.

Christine - Thanks for the kind words and blessings to you too.

Rita - Thanks for dropping by. Good to know others empathise.

Mimetalker - i hope to feel my loved ones around me too. Thanks for dropping by and introducing me to your wonderful writing.

Boanerges - Good to see you here. Good wishes for 2012 and hoping we both write more often.

Unbreakable - Thanks my faithful follower and all good wishes to you too.

Candace - Good to have your kind comment here and I look forward to reading more from you too.

Trilogy - I hope you'll have a good year and your Mum will thrive well. I hope any new paths are smooth.

Littlewillie - You're too kind. When are you going to post?!

Sarah - Thanks again and may you have a great year as well.

ischmoopie - I can see you've had it tough too, so may life be kinder this year.
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♥╚═══╝╚╝╚╝╚═══╩═══╝─╚For the beautiful TURNS of phrase.
Wishing you a healing 2012 and beyond...and you're right, the only constant in life is change...
...be in Love, not fear...
Liz
Linda, I think I have commented elsewhere, or not, not sure. But I am sorry for your loss.

This may sound like an aweful consolation, but at least you miss your parents. I guess, thankfully both of mine are still alive, but I had to move away to escape dealing with my mother.

There was never a humorous side to dealing with her. I am aware, because she tells me often, that she may die soon, but instead of feeling a sense of impending loss, I feel a sense of impending relief. I wish her no harm, but I just can't be around her anymore and stay sane.

I have tried to be the dutiful daughter, I have longed to be like others I have seen lovingly care for an aging parent, and I can do it for other elderly people, but either I am too damaged, or the relationship is, for me to feel anything, but a sense of relief for being away.

I can say that now that I have moved and I don't have to hear the JM stories from every person I meet, I don't feel so sufficated and am able to listen politely while she tells me how she is going to die any day or how this person or that person is horrible or has put upon her.

I know this will sound horribly strange, but you are very, very blessed to be able to miss your parents. Be well and remember the good times while you deal with these difficult ones.

Hugs
Turn, turn, turn indeed. Poignant and reflective piece. Such a strange life, isn't it? I thought life was always something up ahead - but you'd know when you hit it. It would be how you always envisioned it and time would stand still as you lived happily with love and family and community. Now...well, it seems very different. Like life comes in fits and stops instead, unpredictable and very now. Like Pink Floyd wrote, "You missed the starting gun."