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December 21, 2011


Pam L

Unfortunately I have no real uplifting words for you. It was hard to lose my Mom 18 years ago, but for some reason the last year with my Dad was much worse. I guess it was because this time there was no other spouse to be in charge so we 3 daughters had to make horrible decisions all the time and all our emails and phone calls were about stuff not one of us really wanted to be talking about. Then going back East to see my Dad was sad and hard. Jay lost his Mom 25 years ago but his Dad is still kicking, and dancing and singing even, so more sadness will be later on for him. After my Dad died I was really depressed thinking what's the point if that is how you end up. It's better now but I am going to continue to be real nice to my kids, just in case they are the ones making those horrible decisions for me some day. I hate it when I can't wake up the way I want to alone in my quiet house , reading the paper and drinking my coffee. I love it when I'm alone or at least the only one up. I am guessing Dad is an early riser? They usually are. Is there no place you can be by yourself there? That's what you need, and maybe Dad does too?


I'd always heard the 50's with elderly parents and 20 something kids was really tough as you are expected to actually help the elderly as, you know, your kids have left the nest and you've got all this TIME on your hands. Yeah, right.
Do what I did, have yourself some toddlers at 50 and drag your parents on all the extracurricular activities and therapy appointments and show your mother your different wrestling holds on those toddlers for shots, etc. My parents begged me to NOT come over and help them for a few years.
What I really want to say is I'm sorry, Mary. Your family has a hard row to hoe (road to ho?) right now and you have to help. Thank god your parents are able to live in a helpful place or it would really be the shits to have that on you and your siblings' plates, as well.
Oh, and I bet you get more comfy in the house as time passes. Is there a room that Josh's dad doesn't frequent? Like a dining room or something that you could carve a little slice out of? You are a homebody, girl! You've gotta make that place your home, too.


I honestly can't imagine losing either one of my parents--and they are 79 and 83. I may lose my husband before either of them, ironically enough. I know exactly how you feel about being unsettled and all your routines being fouled up. We need those routines to make us feel like we're living a "normal" life--such as it is.


And with what's going on in your lives, I would have a laundry service and also food delivery. We have mile high organics deliver about everything we eat right to the front door. I swear we are saving money and eating 1000% better. They even have ready-made meals. They pack everything in ice in weather-proof chests.
(Can you tell I handle good friend's troubles by poor attempts at humor and also "Here! THIS will solve all your troubles!" Sorry if it's just pissing you off.)


Aw, I'm sorry. Your life has been completely disrupted and you're making the best of it. It sucks and it's ok to feel like it sucks, even though you have a place to live, food, blah, blah, blah. And since you asked, my elderly parents are relatively OK, although stepdad is getting older and can't shake the dizziness and I worry he'll fall, and minimal holiday crap is up. Hope you feel better when the days get longer.

Karen T-H

Yes, since you did politely ask, the Wonderful Husband has made Christmas for us once again. I've had less to do with it than EVER as I work with my brothers to shepherd Mom through 86th B'day and now Christmas. I will fly back to my own home Thursday, looking forward to Sunday's events with little grandchildren and being grateful that we have all managed another month. That makes 13 months of the beginning of the end. Wish I could tell you about the good parts, as there have actually been some! May make time for that soon.
Feel your heart over here about the love but not quite the needed personal space/comfort. I don't know how it gets better, if it does.



Hey Mary, it's nearly Christmas.


I lost my parents early (before my kids were born, even). And an older sibling recently. It's hard. I worry about my husband's parents as they don't live in town and he is an only child. Not sure how all that is going to go.

Hang in there.


Well, I'm so sorry about all of this and yet I remain grateful for everything you write on this topic. xo


I've lit my prayer candle for you.


Dealing with this right now, actually. My husband's dad. Let's have happy thoughts for one another.

Pam J.

Your post is an outstanding example of why I keep following your blog: total, raw honesty about real stuff. All 4 of mine -- parents, inlaws -- are, as of 2006, gone but I have no step by step advice for you (though I do hope to find some interesting thoughts in the comments, which I haven't yet read). And Christopher Hitchens went and died and in the process ruined for me that old cliche, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger (http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2012/01/hitchens-201201). The only useful thing I learned as a result of losing parents is this: it's so very pointless to fret about the future.

Cathy S.

Haven't been there yet, but am dreading when it happens and thinking of all the opportunities to be with them I so carelessly squander. So, no advice, only a cyper hug and plenty of prayers for you. (But, I did like what Cellina said about carving out a place for yourself at the new house.)


One of the things I hated when my dad died was watching him decline. You could see his body tiring out and breaking down. After going through that I started watching my the other seniors in my life for the same symptoms. There seems to be a sequence or stages that people go through as they get that old. As scary and sad as it was watching loved ones I will at some point be watching it in myself.
Give yourself time, you will get a new groove on in your new abode.


Sending you non-invasive smooches and a hearty hang in there, Miz S.


You need your own space.

Me ... I'm thinking of building a treehouse.


YES, you have to have someplace there you can feel at ease and be just "you". Please find a nook or a cranny!

I've watched my Mom decline for several years now. It's made worse if I watch old movies when she was vibrant and beautiful and so full of life. And now she's just this little bitty thing who doesn't want to get dressed, so just sits in her robe all day in the quiet.

I occasionally yell at my 8-years-gone Dad for leaving me to take care of Mom when I drive back from her house across town. Doesn't do any good, really, and it's certainly not like my Dad wanted to die on us, but then I can almost hear him chuckling at me. Yes, it's hard. Yes, it's just the way it is. But I know exactly how you are feeling.

Have a blessed Christmas, Mary. I am so glad you hit the magic publish button occasionally.


It sounds trite, but I have to say that even amid the awful grief when Grandma died, one of the chief emotions I felt was annoyance that we would all have to go through this AGAIN--3 more times!--in the not-too-distant future. And also a sense of administrative dread, because if all of them die within a year or so, will my boss even believe me anymore when I say I have to take off work? 24-year-olds are generally not supposed to have 4 grandparents left.

The screened porch might be a nice morning space once it's spring. Until then, you've got to aggressively force the rest of the house to feel like home, until it does.

Cathy S.

Was that a wise young daughter chiming in with advice?


Oh, dear, I hear you. My mom had a lot of what your mom does, including the weirdness with feeding the birds a million times a day. She spoke to the birds and the squirrels in a sweet tone she never used on my sister and me. And in a blink, one day she was gone--massive stroke. Mercifully, since she had the kind you don't recover from, she died 11 days later, never having regained consciousness, in a lovely hospital on Cape Cod. This was just before Thanksgiving, so we--my 84 year old dad, my sister and I--went through that for the first time. Yesterday would have been her birthday, and I walked through the Macy's at Montgomery Mall, weeping over the clothes I wouldn't be buying for her. It's hard not to sign my dad up for e-Harmony or something, because his loneliness is so stark and raw. Did we expect it to be easy? No, but it's so much worse than I ever expected that it just knocks the breath out of me. Blessings on you and your family.


Aw, Emma chimed in up there. How can she be 24 already?
Thinking of you guys today.


Lucky me, and I'm not kidding here, I am an orphan. So last night, because it's Christmas and all, I thought hey! I think I'll dredge up sad memories of when my mother died! That brought me back to the dreaded dead-end blog; I was surprised it hadn't been wiped off into cyperspace (the place of Cathy's hugs) but there it was. I went back a few years and read what I wrote and felt when she died and also the comments everybody left for me. That reminded me that I still have really good friends here in this neighborhood so here I am to say, um, well, let's see, how about, ah...where's a good psychotherapist when you don't need one? If there WAS one around she would say, "gee, have you thought about working on that depression?" all the while thinking, "like that's going to help because this is just Mary's life right now and there's no help for it." In lieu of that I will say, buck up, girl! Count your blessings and bless your sweet heart and aren't you blessed to have that Josh and those lovely daughters and ALL these people who commiserate and care about you? Fat-ish is okay; if you lose your appetite it's serious and you need to get professional help. Otherwise, the best comment here is "a treehouse."
You know how I feel about you and you know I'm wishing you a gentle, little Christmas, Mary, with no medical emergencies.


I like FC's treehouse plan.


My MIL passed away, suddenly, the week before Thanksgiving. My FIL has Alzheimers and needs to be placed in some type of facility. He is 90. His 91 yr old sister is in an assisted living facility and his 93 yr. old sister is in a locked down Alzheimer' unit at a nursing home. I'm an orphan, both parents having passed away 24 and 20 yrs. ago, but I have a 94 yr. old aunt that I am very close to who is still plugging along, however, much slower weekly. Anyway, when my MIL passed, my 21 yr. old son realized that his suit no longer fits. He said he didn't feel like spending all that money on a new suit that he will hardly ever wear. I told him I'd spring for the new suit. Let's be real, I think we might be spending some at the funeral home in the next few years! Sad, but true. Hope your Christmas was fine. Loved your girl's comment. XO

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