“You’re Braver Than You Believe”
Hey Boomers and all seniors, if you’re reading this, you’re surviving. We are all so tired of the ups and downs and the on-going sheltering, and I’m sorry to say it doesn’t seem to be getting any easier, especially the part about ‘what’s real and what isn’t.’ We’re all asking when is this going to end, are your grandchildren going back to school, will you be able to attend their next birthday party, are businesses opening or not, should you schedule your doctor’s appointments, will you children have jobs, can you make plans for a getaway this summer, and the list of wants and questions go on and on.
I don’t have a crystal ball, so my advice to each of us is to take the course day by day, and most of all, be thankful we are still surviving.
Some of our greatest challenges are our senior-senior parents who happen to be in a skilled nursing home or long-term care facility. The requisite of not being able to visit them in person is beginning to weigh on everyone. Those that are residents are becoming listless without love and substance from a family member. Yes, they are being cared for by the staff, but it’s not the same as being able to receive a kiss from a son or daughter, hold the hand of a grand or great-grand child or receive a gift and pleasure in the joy of opening it. And just being able to have a meaningful conversation with someone other than a caregiver.
I, for one, am also lost. My mother and father are both at the same nursing home and have been for the past two and half years. Until the March timeframe, I visited them routinely at least twice a week for several hours. I would make sure their clothes were neat and clean, their room tidy, they had their proper supplies, but more importantly give them the love and touch they so desperately need. While they seem to slipping, so am I. My biggest emotional drain on a daily basis is trying to comfort my mother and father over the phone. What can I say and how much do I share about the coronavirus and all that’s happening to our fine country over these past months.
It’s one thing to explain things in person, because you can take the time to hold their hands and look into their eyes, but it’s something completely different when you have to do it over the phone. And frankly, we should all be grateful that we can communicate that way since we’re still trying to shelter and distance ourselves.
My mother is a bit more alert than my father. He suffers from dementia and Alzheimer’s and so it’s sometimes difficult to reach through to him due to his short-term memory loss. It makes me sad and weary and breaks my heart. My father will sometimes ask if I have forgotten him. So I find myself reassuring them both that this “lock-down” is just a temporary thing and we will once again be able to see one another—I do hope I’m telling them the truth!!!
So I hang up the phone, take a deep breath, close my eyes, and wonder where all of this leading. It’s almost too much to watch the news for more than short durations due to all the negative noise, many of our restaurants here in southern California are once again closing to in-room dining, the shops, if they are open, are so picked over that it’s difficult to find anything you might be looking for. These are trying times to say the least. And hooray for Amazon and eBay.
So, where do I turn to get my emotional support and insight to carry on? Here are just a couple of thoughts that I use to get me through the day. The first thing I need to tell you:
“Put Your Positive Pants On”
- Pull out the photo album, either online or from your dresser.
- Get a great book and get lost in the story, and don’t just do the fiction writing, but once in a while get an inspirational story that will give you hope and good feelings about yourself.
- Take one of your favorite photos and put it up where you can see it each and every day.
- Cook a sensational meal, even if it’s just for yourself. But most of all, eat well and try to keep the scale from screaming at you when you stand on it.
- Get on the phone with your family and tell them you love them with all your heart, and wait for the giggles from your grandkids.
- Send a handwritten note or card to a family member or friend and imagine their surprise when they see it in the mail—don’t simply allow your computer and the internet to do your bidding. I’ve even done it with the healthcare providers at the nursing home thanking them for their continued efforts with my parents.
- Call a friend and talk about the good times and great memories you shared. I do it frequently and it helps put things in perspective.
- Jump on a project around the house. Clean out some files or your overgrown closet. Clean house at different times of the day to manage through the heat. Plant a flower or renew your garden, whether it’s a few pots or something larger.
- Take a walk and enjoy the pleasures of the summer and mother nature. Look around when you walk, don’t just look down.
- Be sure to play with your puppies and kittens—they will always give you uncompromising love and snuggles.
- But most of all, be grateful and reflect on your life and all its curves, angles, and wonder. When I take the time do that, I always pull out two photographs. The first is of me in my 30’s following a very bad auto accident where I had to relieve the pain through a spinal fusion. The surgery did not go well in that I almost died from an unusually large loss of blood, and the result was a partial fusion. I went through a period of one test after another, one doctor after another, and finally was presented with a device called a ‘spinal stimulator’ which I wore 20 hours a day for two years. The photo is of me wearing this device, and guess what, when you think things are tough now, remember when. Yes, I survived!
- The other photo is of my BoomerGuy in ICU having coded three different times from a heart attack. We were hiking in a remote area without our cell phones, and fortunately a firefighter came along at the right time and began chest compressions and called for an ambulance. They sent a helicopter instead and he was air-vac’d to the best cardiac hospital in southern California. That was 4 ½ years ago and he is surviving and thriving and remains the most optimistic person I know.
- And don’t forget to dream, it doesn’t matter if it’s small or large, just dream.
These, folks, were tough times. What we’re going through now pales by comparison.
I have dedicated this website to one of inspiration, imagination, and health and happiness. With that, we cannot allow ourselves to be pushed down by the dread of the coronavirus—we’ve survived many worse things—we’re smart people and know how to protect ourselves. We cannot be tainted by the news and social media digest—listen and read what you wish but don’t be influenced by that which you do not believe to be true. Don’t be fooled into thinking all will return to the old normal, the new normal is what you make it and with a few adjustments to your daily life, you will be just fine. Just remember the tagline of my website: “we’re still relevant.”
As my mother would say: “the only normal thing in life is the setting on your washing machine”
In the end, there is really no substitute for experience. It teaches us, only if we listen. I would like to invite you to contribute to my website by sharing your life’s experiences and journeys. You don’t need to write an epistle, just something thoughtful and meaningful that you recall from friends, family, business colleagues, or your own passages. Think of all that you’ve accomplished and talk about that using this website as your platform for sharing.
One last thing worth mentioning. I survived jury duty this week. Can you imagine, when California is re-shutting down the courts actually had the audacity to insist that I serve on a jury, in a crowded courthouse, with people I don’t know, for hours on end. Fortunately, my jury designate was cancelled, but only after I called every night at 9:00 pm for a full week to see whether I would be called for the next day. It’s bad enough to go through all that we do on a daily basis, but to have the added stress imposed by something of this nature is beyond comprehension.
Hey, I survived another one!
Here’s to your health, happiness and safety.