Daily update — 083110

This day ended with a viewing of Julia Roberts’ current movie, “Eat, Pray, Love.”  (Our review: Great scenery, good plot, predictable ending.  A good rental.)

This day began with Mom eating at McDonalds for the first time ever.  As hard as it is to believe, that’s what she says.  Thusly nourished, we visited another of her former caregivers at Wagon Wheel Ranch.  As before, Mom was swamped by residents and employees alike.  She loves this kind of attention and was her usually gracious self.

Then came her semi-annual dental cleaning, followed by a visit to Walmart to pick up a few necessities including a booster pillow for her chair in the dining room at Piedmont Place.  As things are now, Mom’s chin barely clears the top of the table.  She really is that short.  It’s almost comical.


While at PP, I did my usual business with various caregivers and administration.  The PP doctor and I discussed Mom’s prescribed use of a walker since returning from the hospital a couple of weeks ago.  The doctor argued that Mom is a falling risk, which, of course, she is.  I argued that if Mom’s blood pressure dipped at any point, she would fall whether she was using a walker or not.  The doctor agreed that if using the walker was disagreeable to Mom, it could be removed as a requirement.  I agreed that the subject is subject to revisitation at any time.  Mom is happy.


Lisa, in the meantime, was talking with Mom in her now-palatial room.  Mom mentioned that she intended to write thank you cards to everyone who attended Pop’s funeral; about seventy people.  I was told of this much later as we drove home from the movie, and I objected.  Lisa’s position was that Mom has all day now, and can use the time to do something productive like writing cards.  My position was that writing cards was exhausting for Mom, and that more than a couple per day would ruin the already poor muscular control in her fingers.

It wasn’t that long ago that Mom and I had this same discussion, but about Christmas cards; she had a long list.  I volunteered myself and Lisa and Elizabeth to write and address the cards ready for Mom’s signing.  She thought this was a wonderful idea.  The very next day, she told me that she wanted to write them herself.  I said that was fine, and suggested that one or two per day starting now would keep her from frying her hands.  She agreed.  Now add to that the funeral cards.

I have an end table to build for Mom tomorrow, and I can just hear this discussion coming up.

Me:  I hear that you’re going to write ‘Thank You’ cards to everyone who came to Pop’s funeral.

Mom:  Yes, I am.

Me:  Mom, there is absolutely no protocol that says you have to do that.  Maybe you could send cards just to people who made donations to Pop’s charity, but that’s about it.

Mom:  Really?

Me:  Yes.

Mom:  That’s such a burden lifted from me.  Wonderful !!!

I’d like to bring back the point Lisa made.  “Mom has all day now, and can use the time to do something productive like writing cards.”  Lisa is right, of course, and if Mom wants to do that, why shouldn’t she?  My concern was more physical, I think.  But as I thought about it more, I wondered if I was being overly protective or maybe even controlling?  I want Mom to be free to do whatever she wants to do within the realm of reason and safety.  My current role as her ‘parent’ should be one that gives her that permission.  Still, I’m concerned for her.  And I’m wondering about me.

I would much appreciate your thoughts about these matters.  Thanks.


About FredMarx

Old enough to have wisdom; young enough to learn.
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6 Responses to Daily update — 083110

  1. Amber Fisher says:

    I am just enjoying the great wisdom and endearing sweetness in these replies. People are a marvel. Hugs to you and Lisa!

  2. Carmen says:

    Fred, I completely appreciate your conflict of being protective and yet allowing your mother to feel productive. I find it so difficult to let my mother do things that I KNOW will exhaust her. At the same time, she feels so great when she’s accomplished something — anything. It’s such a fine line. My mom actually adores writing cards (she’s got severe arthritis in her hands) and I watch that she paces herself. But for her, the writing is a life line, and so I let her do it. Still — it’s not easy for me to see her the next day, rubbing her hands and trying to ease the pain. Hope you will find a good middle ground. All the best!

  3. Lou says:

    Good Morning Fred,
    I was going to write and tell you that you should let your mom write what she can. Yvonne and Ann are right and I see this every day! A lot of children with one parent gone, will try to “over do” everything, with the remaining parent. Your mom does not need you to tell her that her hands will hurt, get worse, etc., if she writes too much. (I am saying this with love for you my dear brother-in-law!) She needs to know that you are there to help…when she needs it! Please do not hover…take a deep breath….marvel at the wonderful woman she is! Micro-managing her every move will not change her destiny. But her happiness at being able to do what she can will most certainly get her through each day with joyous satisfaction and contentment. Yvonne is so very right! It is a merry-go-round. So hold on tight…don’t fall off with the ups and downs….and most importantly, enjoy the music!

  4. Elizabeth Marx says:

    Protocol only calls for thank you cards to be written for gifts (e.g., flowers, donations, food), not for attendance at a funeral or cards. I read etiquette books and even checked this today just to be sure. If Mom wants to write cards to anybody to keep herself busy, or because this is (finally) part of her grieving/closure process, then so be it!!! But if she’s doing it because she doesn’t think any of us will, or any of us have the time, then it’s not necessary. Of course, I volunteered to do it and will keep my word. I’d bet Lisa would even help me out.

    All this to say that we need to let Mom tell us if this is something SHE WANTS to do, or she’s doing it because it should be done and no one else is doing it.

  5. Anne Stearns says:

    I would give anything to see my Mom write thank you cards or anything else. She is almost totally blind now and laments that she can’t read or write; those were two of her greatest joys. Maybe let your Mom know that you’re there to help, if she wants it. I agree with Yvonne. It’s a challenge to keep helping from turning into taking over (paraphrasing). I miss you both! Anne

  6. Yvonne says:

    I know exactly how you feel, Fred. When my Mom was ill, I found myself “taking charge,” probably more often than I needed to. However, doctors, families and my own expectations were that I would have instant answers and reactions to anything that occurred. I think I was trying to create as perfect a world as I could for my Mom, and in order for me to do that, I had to take the reins. Actually, it was much more than that; I thought with meticulous care I could ward off death.

    Since my Mom has passed away, I am more careful to not do that with my Dad because I realize how very little (as in zero) power I have over death. Though it is challenging not to intervene, because every negative consequence always comes back to me in guilt or work or second-guessing. It’s a merry-go-round! 🙂 Yvonne

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