Wednesday, May 29, 2019

I'm going to propose...a book on eldercare! Am I scared? YES

In a couple of days, I'll be at the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal Conference, a two-day conference for writers.  I'll be at the mercy of an editor, who will tell me,"Yes, your book proposal on eldercare has merit, but there are no promises.  Continue to work on it." or "No, try something else other than writing."  No binding agreement, at least for now.  And yes, I'm a little scared.

A book proposal is much like a marriage proposal.  A writer puts heart and soul, hours and hours, into this package of papers that represents his life, or at least much of his life.  I've been working with families of seniors and seniors themselves for 25 years, helping them with transitions to independent living, assisted living, adult family homes and skilled nursing.  Along the way, I've met many heroes who sacrifice themselves on behalf their parents. I've also learned from older folks who despite their years, take their journey one step at a time, banking on the spiritual, physical and emotional strength, they receive from God and others.  Oh yes, I've met a few scoundrels, too, in both generations, but not many.  And a few cranky old men.

My working title is "Eldercare Journey:  Help and Hope for your Aging Parent and You."  I've  read comparable books, and I'm starting to look at marketing very seriously.  Who will read this book?  Good question.  And what will they learn from its pages?

During my personal journey in eldercare, with my own parents, who died in 2003 and 2004, I've learned to see the losses virtually all elders face, and to understand myself, and what I bring to the relationship, both positive and negative.The book will tackle the hard questions we deal with:  "Safety at Home and on the Road, " Leaving Home?", "Many Care Settings:  Who Goes Where?" "Advocacy 101:  How to do it?"  and "Saying Goodbye," plus more.

Those of you who read this blog will recognize some of the words in the book.  Much of it is taken from the posts I've published since 2010.  I've appreciated your questions and questions.

.I'll keep you posted on the outcome of my Friday appointment with the editor. I'm bringing "my ring," in the form of an idea and some chapters.  We'll see what happens.  For better or for worse.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Mother's Day tomorrow; Moving Day today

Mom and Lauren
Tomorrow is Mother’s Day.  Today is moving day for Mom. It’s a mixed blessing.

Mom is 91.  She hadn’t counted on moving to assisted living the day before Mother’s Day, but her husband’s broken pelvis a month ago tipped the scales.  Both of them had fallen one too many times, and other safety issues surfaced as well.  Today the room was ready and it was time to move.

The studio is much smaller than she or her family imagined.  She is moving from a 1500 square foot mobile home where she lived for 22 years, with her first husband until his death in 2001, and until now with her second husband, whom she married in 2004.

For the last month until today, her daughter Carolyn stayed round the clock with Mom, spelled by her son Don, my husband..  Meanwhile, Mom visited her husband three times a day in the nursing home just down the hall from the room that would soon be theirs.   Now she is surrounded by boxes, and slowly but surely, progress is being made, thanks to her crew headed by Carolyn and helped by Don plus three of Mom’s stepsons.  I am the daughter-in-law, checking in by phone and getting our house ready for Mother’s Day, tomorrow.

Practically no one shouts “Hooray!” when moving to assisted living.  Even though it’s needed and the staff is caring, many people don’t enjoy the move at least initially.  How do I know?  I’ve worked with seniors and their families for years, and I know that’s often their response.  I also know that it’s easier for me to help a family with this kind of transition than to be a family member, even though this time I’ve helped from afar..

Only Mom knows the extent of her losses.  She has mentioned the beautiful furniture and treasures she can’t take with her.  In her generation’s words, “Her home was neat as a pin.”  She will likely miss her yard with its azaleas and rhododendrons, its lilies and hydrangea.  Not to mention the cedars and firs.  To quote one of her neighbors, who has excellent taste, her yard was “the most beautiful in the park, and no one could compete with it.”

There are likely other losses that most people over 90 face:  a slower pace, memories that go in and out of one’s mind, and a body that doesn’t respond like it used to.

Last Sunday Don attended services with Mom at Warm Beach Senior Community, where Mom lives. I was at in Seattle at First Free Methodist Church.  We celebrate communion every Sunday, and afterwards, people can move to the side aisle where a pastor or leader is available to pray.  I approached Bonnie Brann, one of our pastors, and told her about the move.   She laid her hand on my head and prayed,

Thank you. God, for Marge.  She is your child.  She is grieving a big transition in her life.  Help her to know your peace and love during this time.  And help those around her to be patient with her grieving.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

I know this time has also been stressful for Don and for Carolyn.  They have been real troopers!  Tomorrow, on Mother’s Day, all of us will gather around the table and show our appreciation for each other.  Mom will be there; she will have a different address, but she’ll be there.

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