If you truly want to live then you have to make time for the things that you enjoy and the people that you love and care about. My parents sold there house last year and moved into a retirement community. It was because my father has dementia and is also undergoing dialysis 3 times a week. At 84 my mom is in great shape and continues to swim. She even competed in the Senior Olympics 2 years ago. No matter what kind of shape she is in and how strong she is mentally and physically there is a lot that she has to deal with while taking care of my dad. The move provides her with more support if needed and less to deal with relating to taking care of an entire house. She often tells me that she is fortunate because there are a lot of people who deal with much more being a caregiver then she has to deal with but I can see how things are much more difficult for the caregiver then the person that they are caring for. Honestly, my dad really couldn’t remember if he had a good day or a bad day. My mom has to watch someone that she loves and has spent most of her life with deteriorate. I can’t even image what she deals with on a daily basis because I have never had to take care of him even for a day. Up until a couple years ago they were both very active and traveled quite a bit. I remember growing up that the two of them traveled all over the world for my dads work and vacations. As a family we (my parents and my two brothers) had trips every year up until I was about 14. We would go skiing, camping and to a cabin in Vermont. We actually took one last trip as a family when I graduated college, when we went skiing in Austria. Because of my dads situation they had to stop traveling. I know that my mom missed our annual trips to Vermont which they started back up around 15 years ago. I joined them on about half of the Vermont trips. I realized that one of the biggest things that my mom really missed was traveling. Several months ago, I was talking about a cabin that I rented in the woods in Tennessee and my mom told me that she really missed going to Vermont. At that point I realized what I would give her for her birthday. A trip somewhere. So on her birthday this last August, I told her that her present was a trip with me.
I decided on Puerto Rico for several reasons. 1 – She is still very active and a big outdoors person and she loves nature. Puerto Rico has several national parks including an amazing rainforest and a bioluminescent bay (she had been to PR but never to the rainforest or bay) 2 – It wasn’t too far away 3 – It wasn’t too expensive.
I looked at the trip several different ways. If you don’t take or create the opportunity you may lose it. I had never taken my mother on a trip before and now that I live 12 hours away from her, I really don’t get to spend very much time with her. This would be a great opportunity to spend some quality time with her. The other thing was that the amount of stress that she must deal with while caring for my father is really unimaginable. When you spend all of your time taking care of someone else, it is difficult to spend time on yourself. The stress can take a toll on you. This trip would give her a nice break from it and give her a chance to relax and cut down on her stress. I’m very grateful that one of my brothers was willing to stay with my dad while my mom was with me. My other brother filled in for him for a day. I couldn’t have taken her on this trip without their help. My Aunt (her sister) also joined us on the trip.
I did this trip for her benefit, but I got a lot out of it as well. The time we spent together has provided me with memories that I will never forget. And at the age of 84 (her sister is 86), both of them were able to keep up. We didn’t just go and sit on the beach. We went kayaking in the bay and in the ocean on a rough day. We hiked in the rainforest which had some pretty steep trails. And we also sat on the beach. But both her and her sister swam in the ocean quite a bit.
Live life to it’s fullest. Whether you are 20 or 84. Don’t take your parents for granted and appreciate everything that they have done for you. Let them know you love them and show them that you appreciate them with a memorable experience.
Love you Mom.