Friday, January 4, 2008

Taking Care of Our Elder Parents; A Sandwich Generation Vent

It's a tradition sort of ... it's a family value ... this taking care of your parents even though they tend to be difficult as they grow older... hopefully my kids will follow ...

I have not talked about my parents for a while. They were in vacation at L.A. - they stayed with my brother and SIL (that's sister in law to those who so not know the abbreviations).

They left in October after Surfer Girl's birthday and the plan was for them to stay there until my SIL gives birth to their first baby. Sounds like a good plan. Except that about a week ago I got a call from my brother that they wanted to go back home to the Philippines sooner than planned. And so they arrived here on Monday on their way to the PI, and we don't know how long they'd stay here - could be a month, could be a week, could be a year.

That phone call I got was not the first time. My mom had called me several times of wanting to go back to the Philippines or here on Maui but we were able to convince her to wait until the baby comes. But last week, she had some serious chest pain (anxiety attack most likely) and so we agreed to send them back to the Philippines (PI). Since my brother and I agreed that we (Hubby and I) are paying the airfare back to PI, it was agreed upon that they will come back here first ( we also agreed that my Bro and SIL will pay for the airfare to and from CA, so they did).

To make this long story short (believe me, it's long and I have already shortened this), my mom was crying this morning thinking about my bro & SIL's baby. She's sad that she won't be able to see him ... and so now she wants to go back there when the baby is born. The problem? We don't have the money to buy them plane tickets at her whim....

Then later on, she's worried about their pension in the Philppines (another long story so I won't go there), so they are trying to decide whether they should just go back there earlier instead of later... I bet you, tomorrow she'll think about my brother and SIL's baby again...

My mom's memory is deteriorating fast, it's scary...

You know, when I was young (little girl about 6 yrs old), I clearly remember how my mom volunteered to take care of her mom (our grandma). I remember how for a brief moment she stayed with us. My mom gave it all she's got. She made the tastiest, most delicious food for her mom ... shelet her mom sleep on my dad and mom's bed (we didn't have extra room, we lived in a tiny apartment, so a bed is a big thing - the rest sleeps on the floor on a mat). My mom took care of my gram... but it was just a little while because to wanted to go back to her old house...

To be continued.... (because I've already fallen asleep twice while typing this post ....)


5 comments:

Ashley said...

I agree with you on this. It's one of our values that's becoming a challenge given our present way of living and family members spread out all over the globe.

Your mom may be experiencing the impacts of having her family in various places that also makes it difficult for her to continue fulfilling her role as mom and grandmother for the next generation. Makes one feel guilty for not being able to do that and for things that are inevitable, I think.

I also have a similar difficulty with having my dad in Bicol (he chose to stay there than here in Manila) and us here in Manila.

Kamsin said...

My Mum takes care of my grandma (she's 94) but it is really hard she can't do much for herself anymore and is very confused most of the time. It seems like as they get older people's expectations of how things should be and the demands they place on other people don't always come into line with reality.
It must be doubly hard for you and your parents when there is an ocean in between their home and yours! And maybe if I end up staying in Japan long term I'll have similar difficulties as my own Mum ages. She says she doesn't want her children to take care of her...but I'm sure she does really.

Anne said...

I'm so very sorry. If your mother is moving into some stage of forgetfulness/dementia, you may want to have her see a doctor. Aricept can slow down the process. She may be fine, just stressed from all the decisions she thinks she needs to make, her desire to be home, her desire to see the baby, her realization that she didn't make the right choice, etc.

But it falls on you, and that's more than hard.

The thing that best prepared me for dealing with my older parents was learning how to deal with a toddler. You can't help it if parents or children make bad decisions. The hard part is not getting sucked into fixing it when doing so would harm you or your family.

Vent all you need to. Always a good choice.

Bless you.

Anonymous said...

Your dedication to your mom and her memory issues hits close to home for me. What an inspiration to see the love and care you constantly display to your parents. I'll keep you in my prayers. -Todd

raqgold said...

liza, i can relate both my in laws are deteriorating so fast despite the fact that they still both function well except they tend to forget things. last new year's eve they forgot they are cooking mulled wine and it was only the smell of something burning that brought them back into the kitchen, in time. a lot of small incidents like that and being forgetful about days, etc... we are really thinking and discussing about having someone taking care of them but they wont hear about it. hayyyy... not easy. at least my parents in manila have my bros and sisters to take care of them, if it comes to that. prayers to you.