16 July 2010
Lesson Learned: Friends Are Important
I'm excited with the thought that I'll have my life back. We'll finally get to go on our Honeymoon, our wedding was April 11, 2008, time for us to get our real party started!
A job, I look forward to going to work.
Golf... lots of golf. My goal is to join a woman's golf league and make some new friends.
One of the most valuable lessons that I learned as my mom's Care Giver, we need friends as we move into our twilight years. Friends are important. People are important for our happiness, not money or things.
People tend to isolate themselves and as we age, the isolation becomes more comfortable. We feel that because we can move around freely and see people, people that we don't even know, we're OK.
Well, what happens when you can't drive anymore, like my mom. Her life was getting in her car and driving to the supermarket. She'd load her cart with all the pretty colored boxes that claimed it was "health food" or "all natural." Poison disguised as food. Food that brought my mom to the point where she is now, demented.
My MIL is another example. She has no friends. She stays home all day long, reads the internet, listens to left wing radio, does Sudoku and Crossword puzzles to keep her mind sharp. She keeps her mind active but she never leaves. She's always here. She doesn't have friends outside the home.
My MIL still drives. She's 85. She's a healthy 85 who exercises daily and eats right.
Last year she had cataracts, so bad that she couldn't see. She still drove. It scared the hell out of me every time she left the house in her car.
What got me really upset with my MIL is her license expired. She was driving around on an expired license because she wanted to wait until she had her cataract surgery. She was afraid that she wouldn't get her license renewed because she couldn't see. Duh!
To me, this realization that she had was a huge red flag. I couldn't sit around and let her drive illegally. It caused tension between us and my husband. My MIL hated me already for marrying her son, now she really hated me because I was telling her not to drive. She saw me as a villain.
A crazy mom and a blind MIL who insisted on driving were adding to my stress. I couldn't stop her from driving so I had an idea, I'd coax her to get the surgery. I assured her that I'd help her through the entire process of healing her eyes. I did.
My MIL had her surgery, cataracts in both eyes. The first eye went great, the second eye, not so much. I believe that the surgeon botched the job, her eye was bloody. My MIL told me when it was too late that she was having trouble with the eye. She is now blind in one eye.
I pushed her to get her license renewed so that she could continue to have a privilege to drive. Seniors believe driving is a right, not a privilege. In my opinion, everything breaks down when trying to get a senior to give up their keys because many believe it's a Constitutional right. News flash... it isn't.
My MIL was nervous. She was frightened about getting her license renewed. She secretly had driven herself to the DMV a couple of times on an expired license. She failed the eye test twice. She was frantic, she had one more chance; three strikes and she'd be shit out of luck for having a drivers license.
Here anger was redirected toward me. She was blaming me for her not getting her license. Of course it wasn't my fault, I was only pointing out the obvious to her, creating a classic "shoot the messenger" reaction.
I stood my ground. I didn't back down. I knew I needed to be creative and do something that would convince my MIL that I was NOT the enemy.
"Hey, would you like me to drive you to the DMV to get your license renewed?" I said to my MIL one morning. She said 'No' at first, but a few minutes later she asked me if I would driver her. I did. All the way to the Registry I told her that she'd pass. I could tell that she could see, one of the main requirements for operating a motor vehicle safely.
Nervously she sat and waited for her number to be called. She took the test and passed. The look on her face was one of relief. She was glowing. My MIL was happy. She passed the vision test and now was legally allowed to operate her car.
During the time when my MIL wasn't driving, she was miserable. She had no friends. She depended on me to drive her places. She hated it. She didn't like being dependent on anyone. She felt that she lost her freedom to drive and shop, her form of socializing.
Shopping and driving isn't a form of socializing. It does allow you to see people, however it does not allow for friendship exchanges. My MIL is in the same state of thinking that my mom had been, as long as she drives she's free and doesn't need to socialize with folks in the same age group.
Today my mom has a UTI test and Acupuncture. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I'm hoping for a few good days in a row. Tomorrow is my mom's 81st birthday, I'd love for her to be able to have a party with all her kids and grandkids. I'm hoping for a miracle today.