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Another July 4th! 2019

2 Jul

The 4th of July is a great holiday because it is not necessary to buy presents to show love. It is not difficult to decorate. You really only need a flag. And failing that, you can wear red, white, and blue clothes. That will show your support and keep you from running around naked at the same time!

I am a proud American. A patriot. And that is out of favor with some people these days. Sadly patriotism has been linked to all sorts of bad things, like White Supremacism and somehow, racism? How did this happen? It is horrifying to me to see people turning their backs on this country even at the same time that thousands of refugees and seekers of a better life are trying with all their might to enter it.

This great country has given everyone the freedom to criticize it. And there are no limits to their criticism. But sometimes I wish we could send all these ungrateful people to a third world country just for the weekend. That is probably all the time that they would need to understand. The biggest freedom of all is that ANYONE can rise to any height in this country, and no one will even think it is strange. That is what we do here. We rise, we fall, we have freedom of choice. In spite of all the bad press, we really do NOT have a class system in the United States. You are free to move up and down the scale.

Now it is full summer, and though the weather has been changeable and full of storms. It is sweltering now. Sometimes so hot that you wish you didn’t have to wear clothes at all. My mind is on heat because I am writing this in the middle of the day in my Mother’s house. She is so old that she likes it to be very warm. This house has never been air-conditioned, and it is hot and sticky everywhere inside it. But she is happy.

The rest of us run around fanning ourselves and hiding out in an air-conditioned bedroom as long as we can. Turning fans on and then off when Mother is near. Even the “draft” from a fan is too much for her.

She does not really understand that the 4th of July is nearly here. She has experienced her share of them and more! The changes she has seen in her 101 years of life include the Great Depression, the Second World War, the cold war and the civil rights movement and the assassination of a President and several other leaders. The rise of terrorism and the destruction of the Twin Towers along with the boom and bust have all happened in her old age. And yet she perseveres and continues to dress in her colorful finery with polished fingernails, and toenails. She wears lipstick to breakfast. She no longer really understands the words in the Daily papers. But she can read those words without using glasses. This is something I, her daughter have not been able to do in years.

Happy 4th of July!

Copyright©. 2019 Bonnie B. Matheson

Sisters, sigh

30 Jun

I just spent a day and a night with my sister. She came east to take our mother to her summer home. Like most sisters, we grew up together, and though we are only 2 years apart we are very different. As children, I always preferred blue everything, clothes, accessories, color of paint for my room and she was a purely pink girl. This was firmly established. In fact sometimes if I am shopping, and a salesperson shows me a pink dress or anything pink, I will say, “No, that one is for my sister.”

Mother all ready to go up north.

Several years ago, I began living with our mother. We all wanted her to be able to stay in her house. We agreed that she should not move to a smaller place or a retirement community.
This is a hard job, and very stressful emotionally.

My sister thinks I need a vacation. She said, “You need it more than you think you do.”

Haha!!!! No one and I really mean NO ONE knows it more than I. My nursing skills are depleted, that is true. Since I never had any in the first place, it really makes no difference. Without caregivers, living with Mother would have caused me to have a severe illness or insanity. Some people can cope with dementia, and some cannot. Every day I am grateful for the caregivers that make her life so pleasant and give me back my own life.

But I love my sister. Even though we disagree on practically everything. We are so different in some ways, but when we both pulled out our phones, it reminded me of how tenacious family genes can be.

I am blue and she is pink.

Copyright©. 2019 Bonnie B. Matheson

Care-givers, I hear you!

23 May

Families are full of quicksand, especially as the children grow up, marry and have families of their own. They all develop in different ways. What is important to one branch means nothing to another branch. They may be in direct conflict. There may be a sense of closeness with one or the other group and an impossible distance with another.

Conflict can erupt when the aging parents or remaining parent become truly old and no longer able to care for themselves. In most cases, it is the mother who outlives the father and ambles into old age, illness or dementia on her own. Then it becomes apparent which of the siblings is a caregiver and which ones are not. It seems that typically one child is local and others far away. But of course, this varies.

In nearly all families with more than one child, there is one local and one far distant. The one who “flies in” is generally full of ideas about what the local sibling should be doing. Or worse they fuss about what has already been done. They complain and suggest and disrupt the routine and then, they fly away. It may be many months before they repeat the pattern.

In the meantime, the local sibling may have moved nearby or into the house with the mother. This is because it is the only way the mother can remain there in comfort and safety. Some caregiver children do it all by themselves. Some have part-time helpers. Others need to be supervisors for the 24/7 caregivers and other help. Some parents live in assisted living, some in their own apartments or houses. Others need help taking care of a large property in the way it needs to be taken care of.

That sibling who is nearest or living with the parent may feel slightly or not so slightly irritated by circumstances. The fact is that the far sibling sometimes expects compliance and gives no real appreciation to the one whose life is completely given up to caregiving. The away sibling may exhibit behavior indicating contempt for the one who is there all the time. Believing them beneath consideration, or deserving scorn. This speaks a great deal about their character.


People do not respond well to being treated that way. Thankfully most people are very supportive and value the contribution of the stay at home sibling. It is certainly nice to be appreciated and those who give up their lives to care for a parent are actually being very heroic even if they can’t see it themselves. Not everyone could or would do it. It is a strange existence. And in the best of worlds, all the siblings understand this and help each other out.

Copyright©. 2019 Bonnie B. Matheson

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