Sunday, November 14, 2010

Where have all my blogs gone? Elderly Parents Need Care and Remembrance Day

I am feeling quite sad in not having written in this blog for over a month.   I truly enjoy writing and have a treasure trove of half written blogs in various states but I have had to put my blogging aside a bit.   My apologies to those of you who visit me here regularly for not posting a note of explanation before now or at least an "ETA" when I might resume blogging.

There are a number of reasons I have not been able to write - a job which is leaving me mentally exhausted for one but aside from that I now have a family obligation which is/will take a lot of my time.    In this last month I have come to the realization that I need to parent my parents in a very active way.  Worst of all, it has taken my Dad falling ill to realize how vulnerable they both are and how much my parents, with slow and ageing mental faculties,  need me to take charge.

After a few weeks of frustrating Emergency Room and Family Doctor visits my Dad was finally admitted last Tuesday to hospital.  When admitted, he was suffering from renal insufficiency, his red blood count was half of what it should have been, symptoms of the hypercalcemia was causing him to be confused and extremely weak and tired and the removal of calcium from his bones had caused them to be brittle and with at least one compression fracture.  The Multiple Myeloma - a type of blood cancer -  had also resulted in bone lesions and terrible bone pain.   I am wondering if he will make it to see his 80th birthday in January.

He had gone to his family doctor in the summer complaining of this bone pain in his ribs and through inexplicable lack of follow up/confusion about the symptoms and potential diagnosis, his Myeloma went undiagnosed for months - in a disease which will kill most people within 6 months to a  year if not treated.   I hadn't realized that I needed to take charge of my Dad's health issues and that in the absence of an assertive/clear thinking patient, diseases can be left undiagnosed and untreated.

Not sure if I will be able to write much in the next while.   Dad's prognosis is not good, as his cancer is in Stage III and so he is a very sick man.   My Mom, who is also not in the best of health and as clear thinking as she once was, needs to be chauffeured to hospital to visit Dad as well as hovered over (but from a distance). We are a stoic lot and so it is not so much a time of high drama, but more of resignation and sadness.

The good news is that they can treat this cancer to give Dad a bit more time.  We are not sure as yet how long he has but for sure it won't be more than a couple of years and it may be as little as a few months.   The doctor said we will have to wait and see how Dad responds to treatment.  The chemotherapy itself is not without risk.  For a while, I will be pretty busy figuring out how to deal with my new role as parent of my parents.   Over the longer term, there will need to be plans to be made regarding my mother - I am not sure how long she will be able to cope on her own.

My Mom has a saying "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger".  For sure I am not the one who is dying and working through the challenge of one's parent's mortality is something most of us are confronted with at some point in our lives.   It is sad, but it is the natural order of things.   I am just glad I am here to help my folks when they need it and to lend my Dad some strength when he needs it.

So, between work and family, I will be pretty busy until I get better organized and things settle down into a bit of routine and so I will probably not be able to write much in this blog for a while. 

Remembrance Day and Optimism during Times of Sadness

I wanted to end this blog with something both timely and uplifting.   Last Thursday was Remembrance Day.  I sat in silence for 2 minutes  at 11:00 and spent time listening to stories and remembrances of the Second World War which were featured in the media.  I was reminded me of a letter I read from a site called  "Letters of Note" last year at this time.  The letter was written by a soldier who was being sent off to the Pacific Front to fight the Japanese in 1942.  He was writing it to his 2 year old daughter to explain the situation in the event he never made it back.

Remembrance day this year caused me to think about the losses experienced families of our military and in particular of the children who did not/will not be able to see their father/mother grow old because they did not come home from War.  I am so glad I have had my father for all these years and for a little while yet, God willing.  My sadness is nothing when compared to the soldiers who even today leave their young children and set off for war - perhaps to their early and untimely death.

The letter is heart wrenching.  The full text of the letter deserves a read.    I would like to share with you the part of the letter which provided for me a bit of solace.  If you are facing a difficult time too, perhaps reading it might help you as well.

... Life too, Anne, is like the weather. Some days are so lovely, the happenings of those days so enchanting, you never can forget them. Some are so unhappy, you wish they never happened but, alas, they must for your life, your Mother’s, mine, everyone’s is so mixed up with joy and sadness that you never have one or the other for long. One replaces the other with a speed that is amazing.

But rain my little darling does not last for ever.
Through the blackest clouds a little piece of blue appears. The wind blows, and soon the clouds go. So too will peace come and then we can be all happy again.

I have to thank my friend Kathleen for finding the "Letters of Note" web site - it is a site where I have spent many hours wandering, utterly amazed at what the editor has found and posted.   Letters of Note is an attempt to gather and sort fascinating letters, postcards, telegrams, faxes, and memos. Scans/photos are included if possible. It is updated every weekday with a new gem.  The Editor is Shaun Usher.


  1. I feel for you so much, Peggy, as I have been through a similar experience with my parents. Remember to take care of yourself and try to give yourself time for you. You need your health in order to care for your parents. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

  2. Thanks, Linda I appreciate your support and prayers. Yes, I am trying to remember to take care of myself. It is good advice that I will take to heart.

  3. I have a similar situation evolving, as well. In my case, there is no significant illness, but simply some lesser medical issues combined with age and the ability to handle personal affairs. Being an only child complicates the situation for me, maybe, for you, too, Peggy.

    So, good luck to the both of us in holding up our respective ends in these family matters we face, and to our elderly parents in finding peace and tranquility during their final months and years.

  4. Hi Peggy,
    This isn't really a comment. I was wondering what kind of camera you used for the July 2009 photo of Toronto (?) -- the one with dark clouds rolling in over the lake -- under the heading toilet bowl and rice incident. I like the tones and am in the market for a camera. Best, Jim /email: jim[at]jimmott[dot]com

  5. Hey Jim, I have a Canon PowerShot A560. Not an expensive camera and I am surprised at the great photos I get out of it.


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