The Trouble With the 80s

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“When you get into your 80s, it’s a whole new ball game,” my mama has told me so many times in the past few years. She’s 82 and daddy’s 85 and the past few years have been a struggle of one type or another. It doesn’t look like there’s an end in sight.

Mama’s the caregiver for daddy. She’s not only passionate about him but she thrives on working in her yard. Well, in mind she thrives. Her body is beginning to wear out. Part of the problem is that yard of hers is two acres of work. Yes, literally two acres. Between waiting on daddy 24/7 and working outside, my mama has about had it. I didn’t even mention her moose of a dog and three little kittens.

Changing Bodies, Changing Lives

For the past six months or so, that wear began to show. First she had a urinary tract infection, also known as an UTI. She’d get better. Then she’d get it again. She went to the doctor with it and a rash had covered her face and arms. She took antibiotics. She got better. Then she began to have trouble again. All this time she continued to wait on daddy and work in her yard. Not only was her body wearing down, but when older people have trouble with their kidneys and bladder, the mind just doesn’t work as well. She was losing a lot of her short term memory.

“Enough,” she said. “Get me an appointment.” Since my parents “don’t compute” and I do, I’m the designated go-between when it comes to them and their doctors. So after a very lengthy e-mail to her doctor catching her up on all that’s going on, I made mama’s appointment.

What the doctor said at that appointment was not what my mama expected.

“I think your bladder has dropped,” said Dr. V. “Oleta, you have to get rid of that place. It’s too much for you and Frank. Your body just can’t hold up.”

“But Dr. V,” answered mama. “What about my trees and all that hobnail I’ve collected. What am I going to do with it all?”

“Box it up,” said Dr. V. “You aren’t going to need it or have room for it. It’s time to move!”

Now I’ve been having this conversation with my parents for a decade. I cautioned them both that if they wait too long there will be a crisis and it’s the worst time to sell a home and find another place to live. They’ve mostly ignored me.

But when the doctor tells you something and you’re in my parents’ generation, you listen a lot more closely.

Struggling with Change

Mama’s doctor told her of having the same conversation with her own parents some years ago. They also lived in a remote place on top of a mountain and the work was breaking them both down. They moved into an assisted living facility.

My parents have lived in the same house, their dream home that they built and have worked on for the past 30 years. I guess I don’t have to tell you that we all accumulate a lot of stuff in just a few years, but after 30 it gets to be a mountain of stuff.

While my parents’ home is in pretty good shape for most people, they see a hundred things they’d like to get done before they sell. After an hour on the phone with mama last night, even my head is spinning. Too much stuff. Too much needs to be done. And just where are two old people who’ve lived in the country most of their lives going to find a place that won’t drive them crazy with neighbors and street noise?

Well, I don’t know how this story ends. I’ll get back to you when there’s some progress. Pray for us!

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