Placeholder: parent-sitting

Placeholder: n. an empty frame inserted into a document to hold space for text or graphics to come later.

It’s been hard to find the time to create posts this week because I have been out of town since Thursday, first visiting kids and grandkids in the Bay Area, and now taking care of my 94-year-old mom in Nashville. This is a top-of-my-head placeholder post till I have more time to think.

Mom lives with my sister and her husband (who along with hundreds of thousands other boomer couples caring for elderly parents deserve nomination into sainthood) and they wanted to take a vacation, just the two of them.  How could I say no?  

That said, Mom isn’t easy. She’s in robust health, but life with her is one continuous time loop. Like Ground Hog Day. “So… what are you doing these days?” she says, professing deep interest in my life. 

I tell her a couple of things, she nods with understanding, maybe even asks a followup question, then the conversation stops. Two minutes later, she says, “So… what are you doing these days?”

The first few go-rounds I give a straight-forward answer, but after the fifth or sixth time I begin embellishing, adding new characters, peculiar occupations, maybe jungle animals. She laughs, knowing (sort of) that I’m joking, but even so, she’ll ask again and again until I can finally steer the conversation on to an exciting new topic – like what we should fix for supper. 

Tomorrow morning we’ll go to a botanical garden she especially loves, as we do every time I come. We’ll get back and have lunch, and then she’ll say, “So… what are we going to do today????” 

I don’t know how Holly copes without throttling her.  Mom is too healthy and together to be “put into a home” but too discombobulated to be left alone. 

You could say she’s in a placeholder position too.

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4 responses to “Placeholder: parent-sitting

  1. Although it makes for an entertaining read, the reality isn’t very pleasant, I know.

    My old dad is the opposite. He’s physically extremely frail, yet mentally able to find it terribly frustrating.

    Being in a placeholder position is a thoughtful and perfectly apt description.

  2. You have my utmost concern and empathy. My parents are 81 and 85. Still living at home, with much assistance from their 6 children. But mom gets more fragile every day. She is still active: walks every day and still scrubs her kitchen floor on her hands and knees (though she paces herself more these days, doing only one thing major chore a day). But she repeats herself, tells me the same thing many times, and has to have new things explained at length and repeatedly. And I feel such an overwhelming need to protect her. Taking her someplace for the day leaves me utterly exhausted. I don’t know how your sister does manages every day. Give her a hug and a pat on the back from me, OK?

  3. In some ways my mom is totally sharp – in others just lost. Today was personal hygiene day – shower and wash hair. She can do it by herself, but she wandered back to the kitchen three times with fewer and fewer clothes, unable to find the shampoo. Each time I’d show it to her, right there on the shower seat, marked in big letters: SHAMPOO. But by the time she had taken off a sock or slacks, she had lost track of it.

    Fortunately, she doesn’t remember that I already showed it to her twice before, so she’s not at all upset about it.

  4. Very exasperating! I’m glad she doesn’t get upset by it though – my old dad’s distraught at what old age is doing to his body and it’s very painful to witness.

    Keep your chin up.