We Are Not Flightless Birds On Stairways, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:36am


If you look back at this week you will see that my plan to keep blogging as though my mother weren’t moving into assisted living, her house did not need to be shown to property management companies, the furniture did not need to be reviewed for an estate sale, failed.

You are not dummies.

We won’t go into details. The stories don’t belong to me. However.

I have learned that a series of pretty dang awful things can happen, that one should never say, “It’s going as well as can be expected” because then it won’t. And yet one foot can still be put in front of the next. And yet the people you love and value really come through in a pinch and you probably knew that in the back of your mind when you came to love and value them.

These are not revelations of a dramatic nature.

But there’s a lot of headroom in life. You can keep stepping up a lot of stairs of adversity, really, all the way to the floor of “I am NOT going to see the good in this, guys,” before you bump into the ceiling. So far my family is still standing up straight. I’m not going to say we’re lucky, or “At least not this other thing,” because while I’m more of a dummy than you guys I’m not a complete dodo and stuff does just keep happening. Focusing now on far less taking good fortune for granted and far fewer premature sighs of relief.

Dodo brain. That’s the phrase we used to say when we were little. Probably my mom invented it? But I’m suddenly aware of what that means. I guess dodos hit the ceiling. I’m so sorry dodos, you guys had a real reason to complain.

I know people talk about descending to the depths but to me it feels more like you keep going up. One foot, another foot. Pause, sleep, sigh, vent, hug, another foot.

Today I’m taking off from hospitals, insurance, finances, contracts, and Walgreen runs. I plan to go on a long walk across a hill with my husband.

I can’t say we’ve been lucky these past several days, but the fuchsias are blooming wildly and I’m feeling grateful. Probably because I got some sleep last night and it’s 8:36am and I’m still sitting on my sofa.

Have a very good weekend. I do in fact have two blog posts underway, and I will in fact be talking about candles and sunglasses again soon.

 

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43 Comments

  • Hang in there Lisa. This period of transition is temporary and very taxing. I remember when we were going through this that I was exhausted but like you I just kept putting one foot in front of the other….it felt a bit like sleepwalking.
    If you can delegate some easy bits to others that you trust it may lighten your load.
    Enjoy your walk up the hill today…soak up all the beautiful things that you can see. Nature is a powerful healer for what ails us. .

    05/14/16
    5:51 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Bungalow Hostess, The view was beautiful, and restorative. It does feel like sleepwalking, or, perhaps sleep fighting, on occasion. I’ve delegated a lot. I just tend to wrap myself around the axle when my expectations are not met, or my understanding of the situation not supported.

  • Kinda thought something was up when you didn’t post this week. I’m so very sorry for you to have to go through this difficult time. No, there is no sense in comparing your situation to others. A wise elderly gentleman we knew would respond to the question, “how are you?” with “better than some, not as good as others”. So we all have situations that drain us at different times of our lives.

    I think going for a nice long walk with your husband is the best thing you can do. Enjoy!

    Incidentally, I am mesmerized by that picture of your living room on Instagram. Wow! The painting makes the room and the room makes the painting. The light makes them both.

    Virtual hugs to you.

    05/14/16
    5:53 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Mary Anne, Glad you liked the painting photo. Don’t you love those moments when you just happen to catch the perfect light? In case anyone is wondering what we’re referring to, link is here. https://www.instagram.com/p/BFXnneytOGG/?taken-by=amidprivilege

  • Take care Lisa!
    Breathe deep when needed. Enjoy a walk with your husband.
    I am so sorry that you have to go through all this.
    It would be better. Soon.
    <3
    Dottoressa

    05/14/16
    5:55 pm
    Lisa said...

    @dottoressa, Thank you. Especially for the reminder to breathe.

  • So much love to you Lisa. That you continue to put one word in front of the other, with such beautiful results, is miraculous to me.

    05/14/16
    5:58 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Cara, <3. You just get in the habit of writing, and then sometimes the habit translates a bunch of misery into something. Thank you.

  • At times of adversity, especially emotional ones we often find that we have more strength and fortitude than we ever imagined was possible.

    05/14/16
    6:01 pm
    Lisa said...

    @chicatanyage, Yes. And it doesn’t really feel like strength, just like, what else am I supposed to do, lie on the floor and give up?

  • Sometimes I look at my transgressions against my mother (and there weren’t that many) the same way I look at my children’s transgressions against me (and there have been very few.) I think it all gets chalked up to age appropriateness and – if not immaturity – the limited knowledge and experience. Hopefully she let it go; certainly you should. Plus, all the difficult stuff that comes later is some sort of retribution. Don’t be too hard on yourself and do remember to take care of yourself. That’s what is usually forgotten and not good for anyone in the long haul. Sending good energy your way.

    05/14/16
    6:02 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Patricia O’Dell, Thank you. I do feel that I am atoning. Hence, not slacking off. However, it was a good walk, and the hills were beautiful, and the air was clear.

  • I’ve been experiencing an interlude of “eventfulness” lately myself (although not quite as intense as what you’re experiencing).

    As bad as these interludes are, they can also provide opportunities for great personal growth.

    05/14/16
    6:19 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Diane, Best wishes to you in your events. It does feel like things are popping all around in these times. But I agree, there are opportunities for personal growth. But you have to really pay attention not to just get lost in the the storm.

  • Sometimes a walk in the woods is soothing to the soul. So sorry that you have to go through this. My thoughts are with you.

    05/14/16
    6:25 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Jane, Thank you. We were a little lacking in woods, but the view, the sky, and the gold grass made up for it.

  • I know ~ xo

    05/14/16
    6:26 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Kathy, <3

  • Reading this was painful because I can remember it well. Key word: remember. Now, later, things are different and the perspective of time actually helps. I trust this will be the case for you, too.

    05/14/16
    6:43 pm
    Lisa said...

    @marsha calhoun, Sorry you went through this too. And it is good to know that time will bring perspective.

  • What you’re going through is so draining, mentally, emotionally and physically. A walk over a hill sounds like a terrific idea. Much love to you!!

    05/16/16
    7:50 am
    Lisa said...

    @Susan B, I suspect I haven’t reached the drained phase, being still running on adrenaline and all. The walk was brilliant. xox.

  • It does seem as if one bad thing is often followed by another, and then another, and another…doesn’t it? And I hate it when people sniff…well, we are getting older. So we should expect this. Yep. Not a dodo. Did expect something. Still tough to deal with. Or my NOT favourite response…at least you don’t have to do this or at least you aren’t subjected to that…blah, blah, blah, bloody blah. A good friend of mine who is a psychologist posted a great little video to FB last fall (yes…FB) that said “No empathetic statement ever started with “at least.”‘ So true. Hope you soon have a break from all your stair climbing, you lovely, clever, sooo un-dodo-like person you. xo

    05/16/16
    7:51 am
    Lisa said...

    @Sue Burpee, Aw thanks. And I like that quotation quite a lot.

  • I’m so sorry, Lisa. I’m glad that you’re taking a break, and I hope it gives you some relief.

    05/16/16
    7:51 am
    Lisa said...

    @Marie, Thank you. It did. Back in the fray Sunday, continuing today, hoping this is a tunnel and there is light.

  • I am so very sorry and I can only imagine the pain and stress. The peace is in the sideways moments when you catch yourself staring at the clouds. Breathe, deeply, breathe.

    05/16/16
    7:54 am
    Lisa said...

    @Loretta, Thank you. I know you lost your beloved mother not too long ago. It is the thing, to make time for simple staring at something like a cloud, or the border of a garden.

  • Isn’t it weird how often we can handle that which we thought we never could? It does help to have people to lean on and to also lean back against them, hold each other up. I’m glad you get to have a restorative walk, one of my own favorite ways of blowing off steam. For some reason, being out somewhere bigger than me helps me gain perspective.

    My sister-in-law always uses the term “ding-dong”, which somehow manages to convey a certain sort of charming haplessness as well as a fair amount of self-forgiveness. I’ve been trying to work it into my repertoire of self-deprecating phrases.

    05/16/16
    8:05 am
    Lisa said...

    @Kristina, At least “ding-dong” doesn’t imply extinction. (insert tongue out eyes crossed emoji). It is weird what you handle just by sticking it out.

  • Sometimes competence is just such a burden, even while we recognise its value . . . Despite all the recommendations people offer in their kindnesses, there are some things one really does just have to keep showing up for, to keep doing, to continue enduring. I’m so glad you’re all least getting out into the light with your Significant Husband — from trudging to bounding or lollygagging or ambling, at least for one afternoon Take care (of yourself, I mean, at least for a few minutes here and there). xoxo

    05/16/16
    8:07 am
    Lisa said...

    @Frances/Materfamilias, My problem is that I don’t like to be thanked to profusely for competence, but I do want people to honor the time and ability I’m exercising in the assessment and response planning, and therefore to do what I say to help me;).

  • I am thinking about you while you go through this very difficult time. Hopefully, things will be just a little bit better soon.

    05/16/16
    8:10 am
    Lisa said...

    @Susan D., Thank you. I’m not holding my breath in hopes of relief, but, am trying to take a few deep ones now and again;).

  • We are friends out here, and I imagine most of us had a pretty good idea that you had other things going on this week. I’m wishing you well, encouraging you to do the things that help you keep going (like that walk across a hill), and sending energy/hugs/support.

    05/16/16
    8:18 am
    Lisa said...

    @Cathy, Thank you. I suppose of course you had a good idea. No dodos you:). <3

  • There’s time and space for dodo brain and candles both. I read not long ago that there is a danger in this digital age of believing that the bloggers and Ingstagramers etc whom one follows are ‘real’ friends, that it is much easier to identify with someone online and then create a fictional connection that might not otherwise exist. It is both grounding and comforting to know that all of us are living one foot, then another. We all have clay feet in the end. We are just human and it is enough.

    05/14/16
    3:51 pm
    Diane said...

    @LB, Yes!

    05/16/16
    8:21 am
    Lisa said...

    @LB, Putting one clay foot, then, in front of the other, and sending you my thanks for bearing with me. Being human has to be enough, right? Were super-humaness an option, I’d probably have taken it;).

  • You’ve been in my thoughts this week. I suspected things were difficult. Wishing you strength and interludes of peace.

    05/16/16
    8:23 am
    Lisa said...

    @Emma, Thank you for both wishes. xox.

  • I’m so sorry to hear this. Glad you took a day off. Please take care of yourself during this difficult time <3

    05/16/16
    8:37 am
    Lisa said...

    @Danielle, Thank you. Doing my best to keep my capacity at baseline, as they say;).

  • Putting one foot in front of the other is not easy, but sometimes we don’t have a lot of choice. Best wishes as you deal with all of this.

    05/19/16
    8:39 am
    Lisa said...

    @MJ, Thank you. At least the foot putting simplifies life.

  • I know how hard this is and I’m so sorry you’re going through it.

    05/19/16
    8:40 am
    Lisa said...

    @Leslie K, <3

  • So sorry you are going through this difficult time. It is not a sprint, but a marathon (or ultra-marathon?) Take care.

    05/19/16
    8:41 am
    Lisa said...

    @DocP, Thanks. I am reaching the limits of my run as fast as possible capacity, and we’re looking at how to face the marathon now.

  • hang in there, lisa. this looms ahead for most of us. the routine will return soon enough.

    05/19/16
    8:41 am
    Lisa said...

    @jane, I hope soon. A routine, any sustainable routine, would be wonderful.

  • Hang in there. Enjoy your fuchsias and your long walk across a hill with your husband.

    05/19/16
    8:42 am
    Lisa said...

    @Buckeroomama, Thank you. Now wondering how to keep the fuchsias blooming for as long as possible;).

  • Lisa, I so admire how you’re sorting through things as they happen, one after the other, giving things a name so they can be placed around where they go. You are the nerve center in the pressure cooker of a full blown family crisis – take whatever you need, do whatever you want, no explanations necessary. Sending love.

    05/19/16
    8:46 am
    Lisa said...

    @Flo, Thank you. I had no idea how much of a crisis this could become, and we are by no means full-blown. I failed to envision enough scenarios:(

  • Going through a bit of the same and yes, many days it is one foot in front of the other. Fortunately the universe seems to realize we can only take so much and sprinkles in a “good” day every once in a while. The trick is to recognize it as such and seize it.
    A long walk is a lovely idea.
    Hang in there.

    05/19/16
    8:47 am
    Lisa said...

    @Nelson Bartley, Sorry you are going through this too. I had a good day on Tuesday. It involved staking an olive tree whose trunk was too skinny;).

  • I’m so sorry! Such a painful and poignant time. Take care of yourself!!

    05/19/16
    8:47 am
    Lisa said...

    @Jennifer, Thank you. Trying.

  • Many, if not most, of us here have gone through what you are experiencing now. I’ve been through it 3 times before and another one pending. I don’t think there’s any way to get through it unscathed. Going through a lifetime of possessions of loved ones, as well as all the paperwork involved, is both physically and emotionally exhausting. There is grief and anticipatory grief. There’s no way around it.

    You have very loyal readers here. I think we expect less of you than you expect of yourself. We all support you in doing what you need to do.

    I’m so glad you’re going into the hills with your beloved today. It’s the perfect to do.

    Shawn

    05/19/16
    3:28 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Shawn Marie, It is comforting to read how many of you share this experience, although, of course, I don’t wish it on anyone. All the mommybloggers out there, very few And My Parents Are Aging writers. But of course, it’s so hard to write about adults, even when they do not remember their adulthood.

  • Loyal reader thinking of you, Lisa. <3

    05/19/16
    3:29 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Linda G., <3 and all the gratitude.

  • We’ve been doing the same thing with my MIL, except she’s 2000 miles away.

    05/19/16
    3:30 pm
    Lisa said...

    @AK, Is it harder or easier from a distance? I truly wouldn’t know. And it doesn’t matter. It’s hard. xox.

  • I’m a newbie to your blog but I am traveling along a similar path with my aging parents. Walking in nature is so soothing and calming. I have found it necessary to help me maintain my balance. Sending calming vibes your way.

    05/19/16
    3:32 pm
    Lisa said...

    @HBS, Very nice to meet you. Where, I wonder, is all the reporting on what we are going through? Every calming vibe helps.

  • love and strength to you, and thanks for sharing your life in gorgeous phrases as always…

    05/19/16
    3:34 pm
    Lisa said...

    @linda, Thank you ever so much.

  • You are fantastic. Supporting my lovely partner as.he goes through the same trauma with his mum. To quote Beckett, ‘” I can’t go on, i must go on”.

    05/19/16
    3:36 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Msry Q, That is the perfect quotation. Sorry for your partner’s trauma, it’s just so hard.

  • My thoughts are with you during this difficult time. It is hard to suddenly be parenting our parents. Being the decision maker for a parent is hard initially on all levels. My experience is, in time, it will seem the norm. (I also did this Apr.-Sept. 2015.) You are a strong, very capable woman, I’m sure you will do an outstanding job caring for your mother. Susan

  • Thank you for being frank. I think it’s always refreshing when we can admit that life doesn’t always go as planned and share our strategies for coping and surviving. Or not…that’s okay, too. Good luck with all of this. Hope the hike was rejuvenating.
    xo
    n

  • You are a wonderful daughter. A wonderful best friend. A wonderful mom. A wonderful wife. Good job, Lees.

  • My sister and I are preparing our parents house for an estate sale this week. While they are still alive and as well as their very advanced age permits, they are in Florida and their house is in the Northeast and they aren’t well enough to come do the dismantling/selling/sorting/deciding that we are now doing. We are laughing and crying, and living in a fugue state of between times as we re-live our childhood, re-mourn the terrible losses, re-celebrate the wonderful times and appreciate all the life that our parents have lived and that we have shared. My eyes and throat are filled most of the time. Wishing you luck and strength as you do your heroic work.

  • Lurker here. Never commented before.
    We don’t care about the sunglasses etc..
    We care about YOU.
    Be gentle with yourself
    Take your time.
    XO

  • I think we all recognized that this is a hard time, and it is hard time. Sometimes the things we have to do are just almost too much, and that is ok. Treasure those walks, those moments on the sofa, and all the help and love that comes your way. It doesn’t hurt to admit that sometimes life is simply hard. Hugs.

  • I had a call from my MOTHER 91 in JULY wanting to come to my house.I get there and she doesNOT want to come for LUNCH.I knew that driving OVER but felt I had TO GO TRY……..she is packing up ALL her belongings as she feels she needs TO MOVE.She cannot tell me WHERE she is MOVING and if I say this is YOUR HOME leave stuff BE she gets MAD AT ME.It is a TOUGH ROAD……………I AM RIGHT There with YOU!EVERY STEP OF THE WAY.

  • Very sorry to hear that. We went through ten years of similar heartbreak and my sister’s and my own relationships broke up during that time, which made it even more desolate.

    What helped me through the emotional overwhelm were physical sensations, feeling the wind on my face when leaving the house, sinking into a comfy bed at night, taking a long shower. These made me feel myself again and provided small oases of relief.

    Wishing you all the best. It is, on some level, a learning process for everyone involved and you won’t get everything right (which is to be expected).