Monday, December 20, 2010

GETTING OLD IS NOT FOR SISSIES

This famous quote from Bette Davis has given reality to our lives lately and made me think.
A friend has raised the question, if there is such a thing as living too long. I can not answer this, I guess it is very human to want to hang on, even if mishap occurred, even if facing a serious health crisis in very old age. I am not young any more, but still not old. Am I prepared? Will I be brave? If the wheels in  my mind turn slower, if dangers are present every day and I lose control, will I cope? If  my independence has deserted me and others have to care for my needs,  to decide for me, to wash me, to feed me, will I smile? Will I be thankful for the days left and welcome them? Will I greet the sun and enjoy the blue sky, even if only through the window? Will my emotions and feelings stay positive?
Oh please, please, let it be that way!

My parents-in-law are old, way over eighty. Till up to a year ago they scarcely needed help from us, they took pride in caring for themselves. Two years ago my father-in-law would still drive his car for short distances, like the weekly grocery shopping trip. My mother-in-law still sometimes cooked Shabat dinner for us, our favorite meals from where she was born and grew up, from Irak. 

Then tragedy struck, my husband's father had a stroke and the mother was diagnosed with cancer. Suddenly they needed us. But to realize a situation and its seriousness and to accept help is not easy. To acknowledge disability, to understand that almost nothing can be done like before, and to trust in the goodness of others, in their willingness to help, and give in to it, has to be learned and practiced.

To make things worse last week my mother-in-law fell, and among other "smaller" damages to her body, like a broken rip and a broken sinus bone, her left knee got smashed. She needs an operation, otherwise she won't walk. But her overall condition has to be considered and we all face difficult decisions and we found ourselves in all round care for both of them. We take turns at the hospital with her and at home with my father-in-law, who is confused and heartbroken, all he wants is her to be back. They wish to die, they beg for it, both of them. It is sad and heart wrenching to see their suffering and their deterioration, there is less and less of them, in body and spirit, there is no joy anymore, no pleasure in anything - it is like the curtain fell, the stage is empty and only backstage left...

I help as much as I can, I try to be strong and I also hope to retrieve something for myself from this awful and desperate situation, for later, when I might need it - to stay focused on the beauty of life, to feed on cherished memories, and not to lose the ability to enjoy the rays of the sun and the smiles of my loved ones, even if the reality is not promising any thing at all - I would like to stay on stage, to be there, till the last moment!

13 comments:

Bernstein said...

Liebe Yael,
Du schreibst und beschreibst so viele Gedanken und Dinge, mit denen ich mich auch gerade auseinandersetzte bzw auseinandersetzen muss. Nur zu gut kann ich Deine Gedanken und Gefühle und die Situation nachempfinden, denn es ist ein sehr schmerzlicher,kraftzehrender und aufreibender Prozess. Auch ich habe noch keine Lösung gefunden.
Fühl Dich tröstend und liebevoll umarmt
mitfühlende Grüße
Inbar

Eva said...

Es tut mir so leid, daß Eure Familie so eine schwere Bürde zu tragen hat. Ich verstehe jetzt, daß man von Dir so wenig gehört hat. Alles andere ist nun nicht wichtig. Ich hoffe das Beste und wünsche Euch alles Liebe.

2 B's World said...

Liebe Yael,
wenn Du wüßtest, wie gut ich gerade im Moment deine Gedanken nachvollziehen kann. Und leider habe ich nichts, was Dich trösten oder Dir helfen könnte. Und selbst wenn einer von uns in einer solchen Situation Entscheidungen trifft, dann sind es Entscheidungen, die vielleicht für den nächsten gar nicht passen.
Ich wünsche Dir und deiner Familie viel Kraft und daß ihr eine Lösung findet. Mehr bleibt mir leider nicht.
Außer Dir noch eine dicke und liebe Umarmung zu senden.
Traurige und mitfühlende Grüße von Birgit

veroque said...

יעל.. זה מאוד עצוב ומאוד נוגע ללב. אין לי מילות נחמה. אני בטוחה שאתם עושים כל מה שאפשר עבורם.
בכל זאת, יש נחמה בכך שהם בידיים טובות.
אני מקווה שסבתא תתאושש מהנפילה ולפחות שהעצמות יכאבו פחות. זה קורע את הלב:(
שולחת חיבוק גדול.

Dawn of LaTouchables said...

This is very moving, Yael. You have made me think...

If one could be able to live life like a cat, relatively fit till the end of the final act, and a swift exit. I guess that is the best we can wish for. Then it doesn't concern us whether we live till 20 or 99--till the end of the final act, cognizant. There was a time when we didn't exist, yet life was abundant and continuous, and so I think it will always be.

Annuk said...

WONDERFUL post, so deeply touching and moving without being hopeless. Thank you for sharing such deep and intimate thoughts and feelings, Yael, and for making me think... I really really love your attitude, the wonderful gift to love life even in the hardest moments, and to see meaning and hope even when things seem desperate. This is a great gift Yael.
A warm hug to you and lots of strength!

glazedOver said...

Amidst the gravity of the situation, the heartbreak and the sorrow, you are able to not only be a support system for your in-laws, you are also able to inspire us, your readers, and remind us of how fragile and precious life is. I wish for you strength, patience, and love up to the very last moment.

wanda miller said...

you are a very wise, and kind woman. intuitive to life's gifts. to be loved and cared for by you has to be a gift for those in need. i shall hold all of you in prayer. thank you for this most beautiful post. xo

Chris Gray said...

..not an easy situation...

...look the light...

..and hope that they both can see it...and go towards it with no fear in their hearts..

x Chris

Objekte-aus-Ton said...

I know these thoughts very well when my parents died a few years ago ...
I wish you all the best!
Gaby

Smithy said...

This is such a personal and emotive post, Yael, and I know it comes from the deepest recesses of your heart. I send my love and blessings to you and your dear families at this trying time.

Hagar said...

Yaeli,
I know exactly what you are talking about!
On one hand we are the lucky ones that have well enough medical service, food and clean water to enable us living longer. On the other hand there is this very bothering question of dignity that is so difficult to reply. When my father was dying not very long ago, his outstanding doctor promised me he will see to it that he does not suffer and that they keep his dignity. I was so grateful!
A very big hug to you, I know you have the wisdom, the courage as well as the sensitivity to go through this very difficult moment.
Holding my fingers for you,
Hagar

LauraX said...

I know you don't know me yet Yael, but I am deeply touched by the suffering in your family right now. I think my post today on Emunah, might be helpful to you...maybe.

refuah shelema to your entire family (when one suffers, we all do)