Mom and Dad celebrated 70 years of marriage on September 5, 2023. We waited until a month later when my sister was home and we planned a celebration at Dogwood, their assisted living facility, inviting some of their old friends and all the friends that live there. It was a special day and we all enjoyed it. 70 is quite the milestone of an anniversary and not a lot of people make it that long.
Mom has had a lot of struggles the last month, so I’ll update you all on both of them today. It’s been a hard month on all of us, but we made the best of their celebration and made it as nice as we could for them. Mom had seen another couple celebrate their anniversary and she mentioned she would like to do the same for their 70th.
I ordered a beautiful strawberry cake from local bakery, McIntyres in Smyrna, a well known and loved bakery. They deliver out to West Cobb where we pick up cakes when we order them. Their cakes are delicious and I’ve ordered strawberry many times. It has a cream cheese icing that’s delicious and they decorated it to my specifications, which was perfect!
We got balloons for the occasion too and it was a beautiful day.
The happy couple on September 5, 1953. They got married in my mom’s home church at Pleasant Grove Assembly of God in Durant, FL. Al and Iris began their married life together and set out in the ministry. They’ve had a wonderful life together, richly blessed by God. A little over one year later, my sister Renee was born in October. I came along 2 years later, in 1956.
I gave them this picture to do a flyer for the celebration and I love this going away picture of them. You can still see those young folks in the older version, can’t you? Life was just beginning then and now it’s waning.
Renee and I got a picture with them to remember the day.
Update on Mom and Dad
Dad (age 96) is really pretty stable and hasn’t changed a lot in the last few months. He hasn’t had anymore health scares in the last few months and seems to be pretty content day to day. His memory hasn’t gotten any worse that we can see. He still knows us, the immediate family, but doesn’t remember our old friends or much about the great grandgirls. With dementia, you just never know how fast it will go and he may move on to other stages before too long. We are grateful he is stable and content, that means a lot at this age. We can tell he’s comfortable on his side in Memory Care. When we bring him over to have lunch in the common area on mom’s floor, he’s always ready to go back. He will say, “Just take me to the door and let me in.” And then he’ll walk on through with a bye-bye.
Mom (age 95) has had a rough month of it. When I was visiting my sister in August, we noticed in talking to her on the phone that she seemed to be out of character for her when she was telling us about some conversations she had with some of her friends. She talked about being mean to someone, which really was out of character for her. We didn’t quite understand what was going on. When I got home, things took a worse turn and she became really confused and out of it even more. At times she was almost catatonic and listless, not responding well at all and not wanting to go to the dining room. It would take her quite awhile to get her words out and speak. We thought maybe she had experienced a TIA. The strange thing was it would come and go. One day she would be pretty normal and the next, back to being so confused and saying the craziest things. Things so out of character for her. She was very paranoid and talking about where she lives and what all was going on around there that she perceived as being bad. She was making things up that were not an issue.
It got so bad that I took her to Urgent Care on a Sunday afternoon. They did all sorts of tests, including a chest scan and a urinalysis where they determined she had a UTI. I had heard from so many people that it was probably a UTI, but this was our first experience with mom. The symptoms she had were totally indicative of a UTI. So the doctor at urgent care sent her home with 7 days of antibiotics. She took that all that round, but still the confusion and agitation/paranoia continued. I did another urine sample and took it to her PC doctor, who analyzed it in house and before I could even hear back from them (it was over the weekend and nothing moved fast), mom was so bad on Monday, that I loaded her up (with her crying and not wanting to go) to the hospital. I took her to Northside Cherokee, a hospital that we’ve been to several times with both mom and dad. She spent two nights in the hospital. I couldn’t stay with her, as the next day was my cataract surgery. So I left her in good hands at the hospital and they ran a lot of tests on her as well. The urine test came back positive again, so they put her on an IV of antibiotics, a different one this time once they found out the strain of bacteria she had. She was released after 2 nights and came home with another 5 days of antibiotics. My sister, Renee and niece, Lauren were coming home that weekend, so they got to see her firsthand to see how bad she was. I was heading out of town for that conference so they looked after her for a few days. She was still back and forth with the confusion and being out of it.
Renee stayed through the week after I got back and we both had lunch with them every day, observing her behavior.She was back and forth for a few days and seemed to be improving, but the confusion isn’t completely gone. We’ve had a followup visit with her PC doctor this week. The doctor attributes some of her confusion with her age. We are doing another UTI test next week to make sure the infection is gone. She’s having problems remembering to take her meds and gets confused on how to use her phone and TV. Overall, mom is getting so much more feeble. I can see a decline in her this year. Ever since she broke her shoulder last year and got over that, it seems like it’s been one thing after another. Shingles in April/May, pneumonia in June, tested positive for Covid in September also along with the UTI and had to be in quarantine for 5 days for that. All of this has really zapped her energy. She goes to meals, but has little energy for anything else, but at her age it’s fine. She’s napping more than she used to. She just needs to pace herself and do what she can. She is better the last few days than she was a few weeks ago, so that’s a good sign.
Things for mom have gotten so hard, just the day to day things that she needs to do for herself, like wash out her big cup that she uses for her water and Gatorade mixture, taking out her dental partial plate that she wears. She broke her fingernail that she uses to get out her dental plate so she’s been leaving it out because it was so hard to get out, but that means she can’t chew her food as well. I finally told her to just put it back in and don’t worry too much if she can’t get it out all the time. She can brush her teeth and rinse. Chewing is more important at this point. Sidenote: She told me yesterday that she is able to get it out again.
So many little things that we all take for granted, they can’t do anymore. Mom’s fingers are almost completely numb from arthritis. Her hands are so knotty and it makes her fingers numb. She has so many little things that add up to hard days and it makes us so sad for her, but there’s not a lot we can do to help her. We are getting her set up on the next care level at the facility, so they will start giving her meds to her every day and also helping her with showers. She doesn’t feel comfortable taking showers by herself anymore, even though there is a big seat to sit in and she can use the handheld shower wand. She feels like she needs help to do that, so we are upping the care level so she can get help for that too. Hopefully, helping her with those two things will make a difference. All she will have to do is get dressed in the mornings and make it to breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There’s not a lot of other things she has to do. Her eyesight is really getting bad and even with reading glasses, it’s hard for her to read all that well.
We are very sad to watch this process. It makes all of us sad for her, but it’s getting hard. It’s exhausting for me especially to deal with all the things that come up since I’m the only one here for her in person. I pay all her bills, pick up anything she needs from the store and am the one close by that helps them with doctor appointments and anything else they need. The paranoia and confusion has been especially hard to deal with for all of us. There’s no reasoning and talking it out with someone who believes one thing, but you’re trying to convince them that their mind is running away with them. So hard. She’s been better this week, but I can tell she’s just so worn out and getting more feeble by the day. I just want her to be comfortable and as content as she can be. It’s hard to see them unhappy about things and it’s not like her to be unhappy, she’s always been a positive person. So last month has been a doozy and I hope things improve with time. We just want the Lord to take them both when it’s time for them to go, peacefully and as fast as possible. We will gladly give them up so they don’t have to suffer in bodies that are failing. Mom tells me often that she’s ready to go.
People tell me all the time how fortunate we are to still have them. Yes and no. I guess if you lost your parents early in life, you would look at us with envy. I’m glad we’ve had them for so long too, but at this stage of life and the shape their bodies are in now, it’s so hard to watch them just getting weaker and weaker. Incontinence, walking so slowly with walkers, hardly able to get up and down out of chairs anymore. Losing the mind is the hardest part to watch too. The parents we know and love are still in there, but they sure look a lot different than they used to. They were so strong and capable, both of them always independently living and hardly ever asking for help for anything all the way through their 80’s. The 90’s came and hit hard. We are like the parents now. I have cousins in SC and FL both going through the same things with their parents, my mom’s two brothers who are still living. It’s the hardest thing any of us have ever dealt with and we check in with each other to commiserate. I know so many of you have gone through this too, so what I’m sharing is nothing new. It’s been going on with families over and over again as the elderly get infirm and need full time care and the children take over everything. It’s very hard to be in charge of someone else’s entire life as well as your own. I know you all know what I’m talking about and if you’re not there yet, here’s a glimpse of it. I’m so grateful they are both in a nice facility that sees to their needs. Thank the Lord that they saved their money and could afford care like this. I know that’s not the case for every family, so we are so grateful for that.
You just don’t know how this road will wind until you walk it out. Most of my friends lost their parents in their 80’s or younger, some with dementia and some without. I don’t know what is harder, but I can tell you the 90’s are very difficult to watch. There’s nothing fun about parenting your parents, but we do what needs to be done for them. I know that treating our parents with dignity is part of the process and they raised us, so it’s now time to take care of them. I also look at my mom and see myself in 25 to 30 years. She’s passed down several things to me that I can see will be with me forever too. Arthritis, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, back issues, etc. On a side note: I just had my bloodwork done and my cholesterol came down this year (from 257 to 216), so that’s a big plus! I didn’t do anything different this particular year, so I’m not sure how that happened, unless it was supplements I’ve been taking, but I’m glad it came down 40 points, so I’m not going on a statin ever at this point.
Today’s share is real and raw, I know. I’m just telling you like it is at this time. It’s not up to us when it’s time for them to go. God is in control here, so I just have to trust Him for their end of days. I know they bless a lot of folks who watch them when I share them here and on Instagram. You just see little snippets of them, but the whole picture is sometimes sad, bleak and hard. But we will keep going and help them as long as the Lord keeps them here with us and as I said, we will gladly let them go when it’s their time. God will be with them, that I know for sure!
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