Friday, December 24, 2010


It's been a few weeks since I had time to get any writing out here. There has been a flurry of activity on my part to begin the process of taking over my parents business affairs and to attempt to determine the extent of their ability to continue to live independently.

Dad is 83 and Mom is 77, both are in fine physical health, but both are suffering from dementia manifesting itself in memory loss, both short and long term. After a chance phone call to my Mother a few weeks ago where I accidentally discovered that she no longer knew how to write checks, I took a hurried trip to Florida to determine their status.

Mom& Dad at our picnic
lunch last week
 Long story short - I've discovered their daily activities are fine; they eat three meals each and every day, walk the dog a couple times a day, and get to church most Sundays. They stumble over things that were routine in the past such as paying bills, handling correspondence, dealing with new situations. Mom used to be quite proficient on the computer, creating her own greeting cards, banking on-line, emailing with friends and family, etc, but now cannot recall how to turn it on. It's due to her that I developed my love of all things kitchen-related and she was always turning out baked goods and delicious meals. Today their diet is made up almost exclusively of store-bought cookies, rotisserie chickens and canned vegetables. Dad was the go-to guy for car related issues; always changing his own oil, changing brakes, fixing most anything that went wrong - now he has difficulty with the simplest of chores except washing the car.

Carrying on conversations of any kind with parents who suffer with memory loss range from the quaint to the frustrating, depending upon my mood at any given time or the topic at hand. Trying to get Mom to get beverages on the dinner table while I prepare the meal is quaint - trying to explain over and over again that her driver license has been suspended due to the uninsured car sitting in their driveway is frustrating. Telling Dad for the 5th time in 10 minutes that there is snow on the ground in Ohio (it IS December Dad) - telling him for the 10th time in 20 minutes that he has to sign paperwork to redirect funds from his IRA is frustrating.

ANYWAY - life is what life is. Learning to deal with it one day at a time will be my new challenge as I try to convince them to move back to Ohio to live with me and allow me to care for them.

You have a conversation with someone who truly is having a difficult time with life: an acquaintance dealing with not just one, but two family members with cancer; another who lost her father just in time for the holiday; good friends with children serving overseas in danger zones.

Obviously my life is not difficult in comparison and for that I promise I will be thankful.

AS THE SONG SAYS....and so this is Christmas....
After many years of trying, I've finally given up almost all shreds of commercialized holiday revelry: I stopped decorating the house a few years ago; stopped sending holiday cards that support no one except the post office and the greeting card industry; and this year I finally solved the gift shopping dilemma. Giving and receiving gifts simply because it's the thing to do seems like a waste of money and energy by both givers and receivers, this year I totalled up the money I would normally spend buying gifts no one wants or needs and gave it to two local deserving charities.

It's certainly not that I don't appreciate the things people give me, whenever someone takes the time to think about you it's appreciated. But if the true meaning of the holiday is about peace on earth, goodwill to mankind, then my giving or receiving another scarf or bottle of wine will not go to promote those sentiments. 

This has gone over with varying degrees of success this year. I had one or two people truly understand the gesture and a few that probably think I did it simply to get out of shopping (well, yes, of course that was a terrific by product) and some that probably didn't quite understand the concept. But, I feel pretty OK with this and for the first time in ages, the gifts I gave truly made me feel good about the process of giving.

I chose two local organizations for my gift giving this year allowing me the satisfaction that even though my money was not in my personal pocket, it remained local. Check out these in case you feel like doing a little charitable donating of your own before the tax year ends.  Countryside Conservancy's Don't Buy Food From Strangers campaign and One of a Kind Pets Rescue Clinic and Adoption Center.   

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