|The recurring questions:
"So, are you the only child?"
" Oh, the rest of your siblings live out of the area?"
"Your sister is an R.N.?"
"Who has power of attorney?"
"Um, no, I am number 8 of 9 children."
"Well, actually, all but 2 live within a mile and a 1/2 from our parents."
"Yes, my sister is a nurse; she has been for over 20 years."
"I have power of attorney."
Sometimes when the questions are directed to me, it is almost embarrassing to respond. I know what friends, co-workers, medical personnel, etc., are thinking: how did this 43 year old mother of four, wife, and full-time junior high-school teacher get the role as primary care-giver to her elderly parents? Sometimes even I am at a loss for an adequate response. I got the "job" because my mom trusted me to do the job a long time ago. Am I going to resign now when things are a challenge?
I am over the part where I expect the others to help out, or even just visit, because "those are your parents." Okay, well, that's a lie; I do get annoyed when the non-participants have some criticism of how things are being handled. I have to say, however, I have become a little less thin-skinned. I do have my brother John. He is my sounding board, and he does take up a lot of the burden when I am unable to be there. I can say through all of this, he and I have become very close.
In the last year and a half I have spent a lot of time sitting in emergency rooms wondering, "Why does my mom have to go through all of this?" My conclusion: it's not about her; she's got the one way ticket to heaven; it's for me! I am learning to be a little more assertive, a little more patient, a little more tolerant, and a little more appreciative. I have learned that I am stronger than I thought. And another bonus about being at the hospital with my mom, I have had her share with me numerous times how much she has loved her life, how happy being a mom has made her, and how satisfied she has been with all the aspects of her 82 years. What a gift! I think she has told me more times in the last year that she loves me, than in the previous 40.
No, it is not how I expected my mom's last years to play out. It is certainly not what I thought I would be doing. I am just the second daughter among the seven sons. I hold no special "rank" in that big family; but then again, maybe I do.