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Posts Tagged ‘generations’

I can’t imagine what it must have been like to receive the kind of phone call my children received the night our car was hit by a drunk driver; when life, as we all knew it, suddenly came to a screeching halt leaving dinners uneaten, appointments canceled, meetings unattended, young children bewildered and our adult children and their spouses gathered in disbelief.  In retrospect I realize how naive humanity really is, all of us thinking we are so in control — masters of our very existence — when in reality we are not.  Life pulls the rug from under our feet every so often, perhaps to remind us of how frail and vulnerable we really are, and how dependent we are on one another.

Now what?  I suppose that was the paramount question.  Suddenly, the responsibility of mom and dad fell upon the shoulders of the next generation with absolutely no warning.  Even with Ken’s Alzheimer’s, he and I are the generational buffer zone between them and the great beyond.  You know, the older generation that keeps those of middle age somewhat “young” because their parents are still alive; grandparents to their children and like a rock we have always been there.

Then, unexpectedly things change and major decisions must be made by five adult children.  Five different opinions need to be considered, and five solutions weighed for the dozens of problems which lay ahead.  Could they work together or would they pull in opposite directions?  Could they get past “personalities” and agree even if it was agreeing to disagree, and be able to get on with the tasks at hand which included health-care decisions based on existing Advance Directives.  Who could and would handle the varying components and who would be accountable for mom and dad’s finances?  What about dad?  What would they do with their dependent father once he was released from the hospital:  caregivers at home or a care facility — or what?

I now refer to Keith as my CEO.  It seems that someone in the family steps forward and takes over.  Not that there isn’t that same capability of leadership in all of our children, it’s just that this time it was Keith who took charge — delegating and assigning what needed to be done.  Whether the others grumbled or disagreed I don’t know, nor do I want to know.  What I do know is that my children — with families of their own, business and work schedules to attend — set aside their own priorities to care for our needs.  Together, perhaps prodded and encouraged by the CEO, they worked like a finely-tuned machine; each doing what was assigned in the best way they knew.

As I recovered, I was able to spend a good amount of time with each one of my adult children: three men and two women, and their families.  It was quality time, relaxed time, alone time, intimate time, and stolen time from their busy lives, but I treasured those hours with them, rediscovering who they were, finding them to be the kind of people Ken and I had hoped they would become.  I also realized how very different they are, which I found rather amazing.  Coming from the same parents they are not carbon copies of me and Ken.  They have, however, grown into their own diverse persons while embracing the same values and qualities they had been taught: they are vigilant and hard working; and they are good, kind, loving and giving people.  I understand they don’t always agree with one another, nor do they always agree with us, and that’s all right.  The important thing is they are there for each other, and they are there for us.  Not only do I love them, but I like them; could a parent ask for anything more?

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This is who I am: Ann Romick or Mrs. Kenneth Romick as I appear on the bill from Macy’s. However, my birth certificate reads differently with the name Mabel preceding Ann. For many years now, I have used my middle name, Ann, as my pen name.  The trouble with being Mabel is that it is a very difficult name to live with, and I have found that Ann, being a bit on the bland side of the rather zesty innuendoes my first named often generates, makes introductions more comfortable.  Besides, I have found that “Ann” is more reader and editor friendly. Yet, I am who I am, and if I were nameless I would still be me. 

That said, my writings are not about my name, but about living with Alzheimer’s disease which will not only include both me and Ken, but generations of family.  Remembering and appreciating the past and learning to live with, understand and accept the present can bring both joy and sorrow. The writings, memories and musings involve our parents, friends, aunts and uncles, and our children, and a glimpse of the circumstances which tie us all together.   

Ken and I have been battling his Alzheimer’s since January of 2004. Actually, I have known of its high probability for much longer as both of his parents were victims as is his sister, Loretta. I first noticed signs of Ken forgetting in the late 1990s. There were small indications: forgetting things we had done, some of the places we had been, but the glaring forgetfulness was his inability to find the homes of our children who had lived in their same houses for years. Somehow, he couldn’t remember how to get there without my help.

Finally, we visited a neurologist. I shared what I knew, but added, “Perhaps we can just say he is forgetful.” So for a year we pretended nothing was wrong. In 2005, the diagnosis was confirmed: my husband had Alzheimer’s. Even though I could see it was coming, it was an awful blow; no longer was it “maybe” Ken has Alzheimer’s. It was now chiseled in stone.

My life had become a constant struggle, and this will be somewhat of a journal which I will write on a regular basis.  Writing is therapy for me which allows me to read my own thoughts giving me a broader perspective of caregivers who are caring for their loved ones no matter what the disease.  Some days, thank goodness, are rather uneventful.  Meanwhile, and on good days, I will look for, appreciate and count each and every blessings.

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