Role Reversal

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She wanted to talk to me.

She’s having trouble sleeping, but doesn’t want the kids to know. They already worry too  much about her. She doesn’t want to be a burden, already feels like she’s a burden.

Her daughter called her three times during our talk, our 20 minute visit.

They worry about her, they push her to do things for herself… walk more, exercise, socialize. But she’s tired of pushing herself.

She’s sad, and anxious, and not demented at all. She’s smart,  but her body can’t keep up with her mind.

When did the roles change?

Why do they make decisions for her? Why do they tell her what to do, when to do it, how to do it?

She always feels like she’s disappointing them. She can’t reach the goals they set. Her frailty frustrates her. She’s letting them down, they deserve better, she’s just in the way.

How can she stop feeling like a burden? How can she stop them from feeling like she’s their responsibility?

I’ll bet she can remember holding her chubby babies. Feeding, bathing, loving them. Nurturing them, raising them, watching them grow up as she grew old.

I see her. I SEE her. One day, I could be her.

My words don’t fix things, but she’s grateful for the time we spent. I can’t change how she feels, and I can’t make them feel like they don’t NEED to care for her. It’s out of love and the duty that comes with love.

But…it still sucks.

 

 

 

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A beautiful story

 

I’ve been thinking about this couple…wondering how they are doing, and hoping they are still together and enjoying each other. I love their story…. a perfect memory for Valentine’s day. 🙂

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I worked today, checking on some patients in the hospital.

There was a lady there, age 83, I had to see her before she could go home. It really could have been a 5 minute visit, I already had looked up her lab and imaging studies before knocking on her door. I knew she didn’t need anything from my group at the moment.

I walked out of that room an hour later, feeling a little lighter around my heart.

Her husband was in there, and although 86, he was still fit and handsome. My patient also looked much younger than her age. I watched how they interacted with each other as I asked her some basic questions. Teasing each other, winking at me as though I was in on the joke.  They were so proud to bring up how they had been married almost 60 years.

I don’t know exactly how it happened, but somehow after talking about her medical issues, we just kept talking.

The husband had an iPad. I thought it was surprising and adorable. As we spoke about different things, where we all grew up, the job he retired from, the fact that the wife could barely walk anymore without help….. his fingers were skimming over images. He was so ready to share, I could tell he brought that thing with him everywhere.

He had retired over 20 years ago, he was an attorney. He had photos of newspaper clippings that he’d saved about trials he was involved in. I loved it. He’d met some celebrities, had some great stories to tell.

I asked him if he had a wedding picture on that iPad, from his own wedding.

He didn’t.

But as they told me “their” story, I got to see something even better.

They met, over 60 years ago, at the Jersey Shore. He was from Ohio, she was a Jersey native. They were both on vacation. She started telling me the story….”and can you believe it, this guy says he knows who he’s going to marry….the first DAY we meet! I thought he was crazy!” And he smiles as he takes over, “but look who was right and who was wrong, huh?”

So they had a few days together, getting to know each other before he went back to Ohio with his family.

And then HIS mom calls HER mom. I’m told because that’s how things were done back then. He was 26, she was 23. the moms plan together for her to come to Ohio to visit. She stays with the family. She comes again. Then he goes to Jersey.

He took her to a jewelry store to pick out a ring on her second visit.

She told me that she counted the actual days they spent together before getting married.

FIFTEEN.

15 days of face time before walking down the aisle.

Then she moved to Ohio. In with his family, his parents, his sister, him. “We had a grand time!” Then they moved out…..next door.

I heard about their three daughters, and now their grandkids. All daughters are married to good guys, thank God. I saw pictures of their Florida home, on a golf course…. I see his eyes look a little wistful when he talks about it and then asks “do you play golf?”  He misses it.

They built a home in the city I live in now. I saw pictures of this too. I’ve driven past this house.

They had to sell it. They are moving into assisted living together, because she can’t be alone safely. He does not leave her side. And this is when they look at each other with so much love, and she jokes how this is payback for all the years she took care of him. And he tells me she is the best mother and best wife anyone could have. They invited me to come visit them. Because somehow we have become friends in this short time.

And then he took out the iPad one last time.

And showed me a picture, black and white. Three young people on a beach, sitting on a blanket and squinting at the camera.

It’s him and her, with a friend. The DAY they met. Because he knew……

And THAT is a beautiful story.

 

Death of another summer

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Summer was here, and we grabbed it up, desperately squeezing each moment out of it.

We used it to race up the hill at the blue park, and learned how to roll down. We swung for hours, sometimes pumping our legs, mostly not. We chased the daylight, going fishing at dusk….and those dying rays caught the oldest boy helping the youngest catch his first fish…and throw it back. Summer watched as training wheels were removed, and another child learned balance, then speed. Summer nights taught us to catch lightning bugs, and watch them on our fingers.

We felt it ending. The heat came, finally…. but so fast we knew it would burn itself out.

We were desperate to claim every free moment of every day. Throwing it up like a kite, begging the wind to catch it and keep it up just a little more.

A million walks for ice cream. Out with the hose, spraying each other, and the car. Amusement parks, big and small. Face painting, fireworks, big girl underwear–FINALLY! Hot and sweaty stroller naps, and the crash of summer thunder storms.

Late nights, too late…. but we don’t want to waste it!!

Slipping through our fingers. Even the two year old can’t sweet talk it into staying.

A sigh.

One final week before our summer dies.

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Goodbye summer..... until next year :/

Goodbye summer….. until next year :/