Where To Let Them Age…

With coffee at my side and my dog on my lap this morning, I lightly run my hand over his graying head. I tell him that I love him and assure him that he’s safe in my home. This is the most important part of my morning routine. If there’s going to be any peace in my day, then holding my dog and reassuring him is the down payment for that peace.

At 13, I accept that he probably has just a few years left with me, so I do my best to make each day for him count and to ensure his comfort and safety.

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My house is not a veterinary hospital nor a kennel. I don’t have all the medicines at my disposal which he might need for the illnesses that come with age. I don’t have any technicians or assistants on staff checking on him throughout the day. In an emergency, I would have to get him to a hospital as quickly as possible. Despite this absence of medication, trained help, and facilities, nobody tells me that as he ages he should be living in a veterinary hospital or in a kennel.

People accept that this is his home, and that despite me not being set up with as a pet care facility, this is where he belongs. Still, rarely a week goes by that a well-intended client or friend doesn’t suggest that my mother might be better off in assisted-living.

On one hand, that may not be a fair comparison. As people age, their need for care can be more complex and more far-reaching and that of an aging pet.

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On a more visceral level though, I have to question why it is so easy to put older human beings in care facilities, yet this is never done with our pets. Is it strictly a matter of health, hygiene, or safety…? Or is it a matter of convenience…?

The answer to that, of course, is probably somewhere in the middle.

Though it’s true that my mother might be better off with trained professionals in her proximity in case of emergency, a little red knob she can push if she needs help, or a cafeteria, none of those people or facilities will hold her hand each day and thank her for all that she’s done. Nobody will be there to tell her that they love her and actually mean it.

She might be in a safe room, but she wouldn’t be in a home. From that perspective, I see a little difference between taking an aging pet and putting him in a cage 3 miles from here, and doing the same thing with my mother, despite that the cage might have a sofa, a TV, and bingo on Tuesday nights.

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What I am willing to do for my dog, at the very least, I should be willing to do for my mother, including putting a pill in a piece of cheese and throwing it quickly to the back of her throat, and rubbing her neck to ensure it goes down. That’s a joke, kind of…  Jhciacb

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A Mensch Buys Karma…

“You can’t buy karma” a friend recently told me.

Buy it…?  I replied, hell, I’m investing heavily in it!  Perhaps…

I probably come across, at least in the social media sphere, as a bit of a mensch.  Of course, I like that identity, but it’s not the whole story.

A year ago, I invited my mother to live with me.  This would be a win/win scenario.  I would be proximate to her and able to assist her with increasing needs as she ages.  In return, she would be able to clean up after me, do my dishes, cook, and split the utilities.  I win – again and again, hence, win/win.

And I do look out for her.  I make her coffee each morning, and bring the paper to her in bed.  I take her to Walmart, on the occasional casino trip, and I accompany her to all medical appointments.  When called upon, I do the heavy lifting around the house, and any carrying she requires. So, mensch!

But that’s not the whole story…

Yesterday, as I grew frustrated with a question she asked repeatedly, I threatened to shove a tennis ball in her mouth and wrap her head in duct tape if she spoke so much as another word.  I’m not sure the people behind us in the checkout line took this seriously, but when mom rolled her eyes and threated to beat my butt, I think they understood my threat was one of endearment.

That’s become my persona with her.  Whenever mom says something asinine, which might be every hour or so, I point my finger toward her nose and say something like…

…I’ve got two words for you, woman:  Nursing Home!

She always responds with, “I’ll beat your butt!”  or the more resolute, “I’m the parent here!!!as she stares me down.

I joke with my mom quite a bit like this – too much, I’m sure.  On a deeper level I know this bothers her, and in some ways, might even hurt her, but I keep doing it.  It’s how I cope with the frustrations of helping someone who is aging, forgetful, and doesn’t process as quickly as she once did.  She isn’t ready to let go the control of her life – or even loosen up the grip a bit, and I don’t blame her.

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Despite the often sharp and serrated edges that can accompany my sarcasm and humor, I appreciate that she acknowledges and puts up with my frustrations.  Viscerally, I know that she recognizes that the real love is in the bringing of the coffee, the doctor’s visits, and the trips to Walmart when I would rather be hiking.

This isn’t always easy for either one of us, but at the end of the day there’s a lot of love in the house, and that’s good enough for me.

“You can’t buy karma” a friend recently told me.

Maybe not.  Perhaps the best we can hope to do is to purchase good field position…  Jhciacb

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