Thursday, May 05, 2005

Family Fun Time...

So one of the consequences of my Aunt Mary's passing is that my grandmother no longer has anyone to care for her, and as a consequence she is now staying at the Claremore Nursing Home. It's a pretty nice place, as nursing homes go, but it is a nursing home. She seems to be managing pretty well there, all things considered, but obviously she's not thrilled to be there. In all honesty, I think she's getting better care there than she did at home, simply because there's only so much one person can do.

I have to say that this whole experience is a real lesson in how not to let your life go, though. Grandma has always been very reluctant to relinquish any kind of control; even in the nursing home she's still trying to control everything. But of course nothing is under her control. So every action she takes actually further limits her control. She's afraid of the family selling her land, which is perfectly understandable, so she's managed to get the nursing home people to a point where they don't know who to believe. Which means that they won't help her when the time comes for her to sell her property to pay for her care - they aren't sure she is in her right mind, so the notary public there won't certify any papers she signs. Which means that in order to help her, we may be forced to do exactly the opposite of what she wants - to get a judge to assign guardianship. We can't even do her 2004 federal income tax.

The lesson here, which I think is a pretty sharp one, is that we need to be realistic about how our life is going *before* we get to the place she's at now. At this point, it's impossible for her to let go, and she's too freaked out to behave rationally, and no-one can blame her. But if she had planned for this five years ago, she wouldn't be freaked out - we'd be doing what she needs us to do, at her direction. I say this not to criticize her, but as a cautionary tale for myself and anybody else who happens to read this.

We all come to a point in our life where we are no longer in control, whether we want to be or not. What we do before that point has a huge impact on what happens when that point comes - whether we feel like things are spinning out of control, or whether we feel taken care of.

I think we need to live our lives, even when we are nowhere near my grandmother's age (87) as if things could fly out of control at any moment, and develop an attitude of accepting the small difficulties that come and dealing with them constructively, head-on, and not in a way that just puts the trouble off for later. I think if we do this consistently, then when things really do fly completely out of control, we will be in the habit of dealing with things as they are in the moment, and then we won't freak out quite so much. But maybe I'm just kidding myself. Sigh.


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