Posted on : 29-11-2011 | By : Lynn | In : Heart Talks
If I had given birth to children, I’m pretty sure that I would have felt like I was the first person who had ever experienced the unique feelings that come with the miracle of bringing life into the world even though there have been all kinds of women who have given birth for thousands of year. I know that, for me in that situation, I would have felt that I was different from every other woman on the planet.
So why would I expect to feel any other way about other major steps in life such as helping family and friends figure out where they want to call home and how they want to live their lives til the end of their days? Same goes as I look down the road for my future and contemplate where my husband and I would like to be (both figuratively and theoretically). It’s amazing how steeped in denial we can be about life choices like this even with all the swirling articles, stories, documentaries, lectures, movies and so on out there to remind us.
Over the last year, I experienced helping a good friend walk through the process of realizing that her debilitating illness had taken her to a point that living in her home alone was no longer a safe option for her. During her life, she had enjoyed knowing that she had above average intelligence, a good education and had experienced many examples of competencies and success both in the business world as well as her private life. So you can imagine how difficult it was for her to accept that she would have to move to a residential apartment and downsize considerably. Oh by the way, she was a good twenty years younger than most people are when they have to make these kind of decisions. Within a short time of moving to her apartment, her illness got progressively worse with frequent trips in and out of the hospital. She tried to stay in her apartment and hired 24 hour home health care but that was sorely lacking from the inexperience of her helpers to the fact that one of them stole her narcotics. About three months before she passed away her illness had taken such a turn for the worse that all the medical authorities predicted that it would be just a matter of time so she was received into the hospice center of her choice. Within a week of being in the hospice center it became obvious that she had rallied so her family came together to help her make a choice of where to go to next. A nursing home was chosen that was supposed to be “good” and “clean”. My friend threw as much of a fit as she could about not liking it and wanting to move immediately but we were told that this kind of reaction was normal for someone who first enters nursing care and to just give her time to adjust.
What did I know? I’d never had to deal with this in my family and certainly not with any friends. Luckily for my friend, her son heard her requests and helped her to find a much better facility for her to live out her days. It still wasn’t the Taj Mahal of nursing care centers, but it was light years away from the first place that she landed. Oh, did I tell you that she went through a confusing time period there of not knowing how much money she had in her accounts and what she could afford to spend in the way of nursing care and accommodations? That was enough to get me to pay attention to how we spend our money and what our retirement plan is all about!
Fast forward to this past week and one of my family members told us that they were looking down the road to where they wanted to call “home” for the final time. Luckily for this family member they have a good pension as well as a family trust so they have been able to find a retirement and continuing care community with all kinds of choices for care that also does not feel like an “old people” place. I think this may be how the one percent gets to live or at least have excellent choices available to them concerning whether they stay in their own home with help or move into a community with all kinds of bells and whistles.
As I look down the road for myself (even though I’ve got a good 20-25 years til I have to really make some concrete decisions) I realize that a.) I’m very grateful to have good help, b.) I’m very grateful to be married to whom I am married and for the choices we have made in our lives and c.) Although I appreciate lovely surroundings, pretty much if I live where I can enjoy the ocean and nature, I’ll be happy. If I need it, I’m sure there will be health care workers who love seaside communities as much as me who can come visit my cabin.
Every once in awhile if I’m lucky, some of the wisdom and/or other people’s lessons make an impact on me and cause me to really consider what actions I want to take in my life instead of just floating along as a passive victim just taking what life dishes out. I understand that I don’t have control over pretty much anyone or anything outside of myself; however, I can pay attention to how I’m feeling and thinking and take actions towards that which I believe so that I can live in concert with who I am.
I tell you what, if looking down the road now means that I might have to drive my twelve year old car just a wee bit longer so we can sock away some more money for a comfortable retirement I’m so on board with that now! Sometimes delayed gratification is really the icing on the cake.
How about you? What do you see down your road?