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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.

caregiving
Caregiving

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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The 4th Quarter

2 May

Which part of the game are you in? First half of life? The 3rd quarter? OK …How many of you are in the 4th quarter? I have lived more than 3/4 of a century. This is the 4th quarter for me. Pretty scary isn’t it?

As we age, our responsibilities change. For some it is moving their parent into an assisted living facility.

Life has many tangles. But we can control some of it.

Others find themselves suddenly single or have a mate who is very ill. Parnts sicken and die, children move home again after a divorce. And then there are the changes to our bodies…
These things can make us feel defeated and deflated.

There are many ways to bring yourself back from the edge of depression and despair or just plain boredom.

Even though by the 4th quarter, life has changed. It is possible to reinvent yourself at any age. And you can do this, no matter what the circumstances.

You know why? Because now, you just don’t give a damn what other people think.

My life changed 5 years ago when my Mother began to age at about 97. Gradually she lost her ability to live on her own. I reluctantly gave up my life in Charlottesville to stay with my mother in my old room, in my old house. She is now 101 years old.

And I have turned my life around. It’s fun and exciting to be here. How can we all make the 4th quarter great? There are several ways, but I will mention 2 of them.


This is my mission. I am telling it now.


First you can make a dramatic change.
Figure out what you can control.
Take a chance on something you always wished to do.
Some people downsize, or move to a retirement community, or a different state to be near their children and grandchildren.
Some people dare to realize a childhood dream.
One older woman who began to take voice lessons a few years ago, starred last Friday night in a one woman cabaret. She was fantastic. That took guts!!! But she was thrilled and even said so to the audience. “This is such fun!” She said. “You should all star in your own Cabaret!”

Another way is to become involved. Join things, volunteer, try a new sport, walk or run a 5K race, or learn to play Bridge.

There is so much to do in Washington DC. I decided to do only things that could be done right here. And I set out to make friends. For instance I joined the Capital Speakers Club and bonded with my class.
Any of you can do this. Turn your life around. Change. Don’t be afraid of the things you thought you would never do. DO THEM! And don’t be surprised if something miraculous happens.
Just as it often is in sports, the 4th quarter of the game of life can turn out to be the best, most exciting one of all.
Go for it!

Copyright©. 2019 Bonnie B. Matheson

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A Puppy for 99 yr old Mother

3 Apr

Our Mother was lonely for a dog who loved her. She told us so one night after dinner. My sister and I were both staying at her the house. What she said was; “I am lonely.” and we both pricked up our ears, worried we were not doing enough.  But she continued, “I am lonely for a dog who loves just me.”

My sister Dede and I conspired. Mother needed a new dog. A dachshund like all the others she had.  A red, long-haired bitch preferably. Her existing dogs were just too old to be any good. Gloria was almost 16 and Cinderella really belonged to Maria, the cook.  And she was pretty old as well, nearly 15. No wonder mother had no dog to love.


“We don’t want a young puppy, but an older dog.” we agreed. We knew buying a puppy would be crazy. Our mother was 99 years old. Her skin was like tissue paper. Puppy teeth are sharp as razors. They are not housebroken. They can be wild and crazy and too active for an old woman.

Dede said she knew someone who handled rescue dogs in California. She naturally knew all there was to know about this, and everything else. She knew and she would handle it.

“Fine”, I said.

Nothing much happened on her end, though. Time passed and she did not contact me with any good news. I was willing to let her arrange things, but just in case I began to look for other alternatives.

I found Puppy Spot online. We had never heard of this company. But I saw good reviews.

It was quiet from California. No news at all. Mother often mentioned how much she wanted a dog of her own. And in the meantime, I was in touch with https://www.puppyspot.com/. They said they had a puppy.

I said “NO”.

“No puppies need apply. It would be nuts to buy a puppy. Absolutely NOT. We do not want a puppy. Under any circumstances. NO, No, no.”

Amber was knowledgeable and patient. She let me rant.
She kept telling me how fine this puppy was. I asked how old it was.

“4 months.” She said.
“Nope.  No puppies. Absolutely NO puppies, because that would be nuts.”  Mother was 99 years old.  They won’t even sell a dog to someone that age.  We had to promise to take the dog if and when anything happened to my mother. I promised with no reservations because I love dogs.

But we still had no dog. That was mostly my fault because I kept telling everyone No puppies. Absolutely NO puppies. We need an older dog. It would be crazy to buy a puppy for our 99 year old mother. No sane person would do that, right?

Time passed.

I wrote to Dede to see how the search was going in California, for an older rescue dog. Surely she must have found something.

Nada.

She had been busy, the woman had not called her back.

The people from Puppy Spot called me again. They still had no older dog.

But at Puppy Spot, that puppy was still available. “You should really consider this wonderful puppy.  He is a great little dog.” Said Amber.


He was now a whole month older than before. (5 months instead of 4)

Baby photos of Dandy

I said AGAIN, “NO!  We do not want a puppy for our 99 year old mother. No. no. not ever. Puppies have sharp teeth, the chew things up, they whine and they pee all over the house.” Especially dachshunds (of every age). So after listening patiently Amber said “Would you mind if I sent you a couple of photos?”

“Sure, go ahead.” What harm could do it cause?

Haha!!!  Those photos were so cute. The puppy was wearing a tie, like a man’s tie but just his size.  He had an expression on his face best described as a smirk. He was so adorable I could not stop looking at the photo.  That dog looked like he had the personality of an angel.  So sweet and cuddly and small and supple.
The photo made anyone who saw it want to own the puppy.

I sent the photos to Dede.
“Buy the dog” she replied.

So we did.  The puppy had to be shipped from Missouri to National Airport.  Someone drove me to pick him up at the service part of the airport.  We got him out of the crate in which he was flown. And he sat in my arms the entire ride home cuddling.

When we arrived I realized that I must be very careful NOT to let him bond with me. And I must be careful to not fall in love with the dog which was supposed to be my Mothers’.  So I went right to her dressing room and put the puppy in her arms.  And then I left that part of the house. I basically hid in my room all day.  I needed to stay away otherwise I would be the one holding that puppy.

Dandy Dude today.


I needn’t have worried. Dandy Dude seemed to understand from the beginning who his owner was.  He was tolerant of the other dogs but he did not give them much thought. He knew Mother was his person.  And he has been absolutely marvelous with her from the beginning.

We have had no problems with the puppy teeth and though he is less than housebroken he is careful of Mothers room.  Everybody loves him. It has been a marvelous thing for my mother.  She is now 101 years old and perfectly healthy.  She has a loving dog who goes everywhere that she does.  He protects her, guards her, sleeps in her bed and eats any food she drops.  

You might be surprised how a parent will react to a dog of their own.  It can be a lifesaver!

Copyright©. 2019 Bonnie B. Matheson

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