Browsing "Mi familia"
Jul 26, 2020 - Mi familia    No Comments

Be Good to Seniors

It’s Sunday, and I try to keep myself busy on Sunday mornings because they were usually reserved for conversations with my aunts.

Growing up, I can’t remember a Sunday when my mother didn’t insist that we make our rounds of calls.  We were the only Chicagoans in a family of east coast dwellers, and while I would visit them every summer, during the other seasons she wanted to make sure that my relationships with her 10 older siblings were reinforced. So, Sunday mornings were always reserved for phone calls to, at least, my Aunts.  She taught me that it was my responsibility to check on them, and felt that the onus was hers to instill.

Fast forward to adulthood, the tradition continued, but I sadly have fewer people to call. My Aunt Emily passed away in 2014 at the age of 86.  She was the sister closest in age to my mother, and the happy recipient of my mother’s jewelry when she passed away.  The best part about Aunt Emily was her lack of filter, which grew more threadbare as she aged.  It was wonderful to hear unvarnished versions of the stories that I’d heard throughout childhood, without the truth being altered to protect the reputations of the guilty.  I so looked forward to our conversations, which would sometimes last for several hours, because she was also a fantastic person to talk to, having seen it all, done it all, with great advice to share.  And because she knew me so well, the advice was personalized and valuable.

Some people would say that it was “good of me” to call her regularly.  But she didn’t need me; I needed her.  My cousin, her son, was an amazing caretaker.  I felt it was my honor and privilege to have her in my life.  I selfishly wish she were still here because I have SO many more unanswered questions.

The shittiest part of becoming an adult has been watching my older relatives succumb to aging, and eventually leaving us.

Which brings me to the point of this blog, buried all the way down in the 6th paragraph.  (BTW, the beauty of blogging is that I can take great liberties with the rules of writing, and if I feel like burying a lead, I bury a lead without fear of scolding from an editor.  And I can completely digress if I want to.  :-) )  So, I’m really concerned about our treatment of seniors.

During my frequent trips to the grocery store, I notice a lot of seniors, moving slowly, fending for themselves in a sea of the frantic able-bodied desperate shoppers who view the elderly as mere impediments to their pace.  Some of them don’t have proper PPE, and I wonder how they arrived at the store, and if they’ll get home safely.

My dad is in his 90s, and I am more grateful for him than I can express.  He lives across the street (at my insistence), and he’s my favorite neighbor.  I’m fortunate in that he’s more alert and physically capable than people several decades his junior.  While I applaud his mobility and encourage him to be independent and social, his daily errands (pre-pandemic) were also terrifying, because we live in a society of disrespect.

Just as I was taught to check on my older relatives, I was also instructed to look out for the elderly on my block — make sure they don’t need anything, pick things up for them, offer to help, never call them by their first name, and the list goes on.

Unfortunately, those traditions haven’t been maintained by most people and I rarely see kids who have the proper amount of respect for elders.  I take great care to make sure that my father doesn’t fall victim to scammers or bad-ass younger folks who would kill him for $20.  And those are just the people in my own family!  I kid, I kid, but it does happen in some families.  It’s heartbreaking to learn when seniors are taken advantage of or mistreated.  I wouldn’t go to jail for many things, but let me hear that a person is trying to abuse my father or any of my elderly relatives, and I would act first and don the orange jumpsuit later.

That said, I hope everyone who reads this truly understands the value of seniors. Maybe they’re not regarded as fun to talk to, or they might move slower than you, or not grasp technology as well.  They might not go out drinking or partying with you, but they’re still the same amazing people they’ve always been, except they’re now living within aging bodies that betray them daily, and most of them aren’t happy about it.  They have stories to tell and things to teach, and as one of my good friends often says, when a senior citizen dies, it’s like an entire library burns down.  We shouldn’t move so fast that we forget them.

Being child-free,  I often wonder where I’ll be when I move past my age of “usefulness,” if I’m lucky enough to live so long.  I do like the idea of co-locating nursing homes with childcare centers, and while little kids drive me insane, the interaction is good for both seniors and children.  Older people could benefit from the youthful energy of little kids, and children need to benefit from the wisdom, and be taught patience and respect.

The best thing I’ve seen lately was the outpour of responses for seniors in nursing homes who were looking for penpals.  I hope it continues, and for the people who don’t have seniors to care for, I encourage everyone to informally adopt one — especially during this pandemic — and make sure they’re okay.   Have good conversations, because tomorrow isn’t promised.  You never know what you’ll learn.

 

Oct 5, 2013 - Mi familia    2 Comments

The Move Aftermath — Because Some of You Were Interested

movinghell

When we left off back in July, I was toiling over my father’s pending move to his new beautiful condo that happens to be across the street from moi.  I was preparing for the worst, believing that I would be the person who would have to organize and pack him, and that at the end of the day, it would have been much less strenuous (and far more cathartic) to load the basement of his old residence with C4 and blow it up.

I have to report that with all of my worrying and stress, my father is all moved in now.  And to be honest, the process wasn’t anything like my expectations.

It was WORSE!

His first moving day was scheduled for August 15th.  I have to admit that I stuck my head in the sand up until the week before the actual move date.  And then I got panicky.  I sent the movers over to my dad’s house for an estimate, and somehow, despite the fact that I’d previously informed the movers that they would be packing AND moving, somehow the packing piece was omitted from the estimate.    BUT my father assured me that he had been organizing and “getting things together.”

Serendipitously, the BF had a gig not far from my father’s old house on the eve of the move.  I was due to attend the gig, but we had a little spat when I dropped him off, so I decided to hijack his van and instead visit my dad’s house and see how the packing was coming along.

It wasn’t.

In fact it looked as though he wasn’t moving in the next 24 years, let alone the next 24 hours.  He was out when I dropped by, so I drove the BF’s van to Home Depot and loaded up on boxes and tape.  I returned to my father’s house and moved through it like a white tornado (or black tornado, as it were), packing everything I could in the most sensible way possible and trying to create some semblance of order in preparation for the movers.

My father returned home in the midst of my packing project, just in time to receive a few harsh words from me, given that I hate nothing more than packing and moving.  I told him that if he’d been honest with me, we could have systematically gotten this done over the last month or so.  Then I felt bad, because there’s really only so much that I can expect of an 80+ year old man who is clearly overwhelmed by his belongings (even if most of them should have been taken directly to the alley).

Potentially long story shortened, the movers arrived and moved everything that I was able to pack that day.  But that wasn’t the end of it.  I had to return several more times to conclude the packing and dumping of the rest of the stuff in preparation for the NEXT moving day (which fell on my birthday).  I also had to facilitate the work of the painters, who were scheduled to come in right after Labor Day to spiff up the place for the next sucker, I mean owner.  :-)

The trouble now is that he needs more furniture, as he decided to get rid of his living room furniture.  And the furniture that he wants?  MINE!  So, guess who gets to go shopping for new furniture so that my father will have a place to relax?

I swear, a daughter’s work is never done.

 

Jul 25, 2013 - Mi familia    No Comments

What Have I Gotten Myself Into?

My dad has been wanting to move for several years, but especially since my mom left us in 2008.

At first, he thought it would be a great idea to move to the suburbs.  I vetoed that idea.  When my mom was sick, I spent far too much time traversing the city to get to their house, and they only lived 15 minutes away.  I needed him closer to me, because none of us are getting any younger.  Even though he’s the most active octogenarian I know, we should still err on the side of caution.

Then, he thought maybe a fixer upper.   I had to laugh at that prospect.  Here’s a man who starts off changing a light bulb and ends up needing an electrician.

I had to take matters into my own hands. (Something that’s coming back to bite me square in the ass.)

So . . . a year ago, I located a fantastic condo and it’s right across the street from my house.  Even better that I know this building very well.  I watched its construction back in 2006, at the top of the market.  I know the couple that owned it, and felt sad when they moved to TX, and sadder still when I heard the remote news that they were divorcing.  It was bittersweet that they were underwater on the mortgage, as were most people who built/bought at the top of the market, because that perfect storm created the opportunity for us to snap it up at a great deal and significant discount from the original asking price.

It’s a pretty large space — 3 bed, 3 bath duplex — obviously more than he needs, but I would rather he have the space and not need it over needing it and not having it.

We put in the offer in April of 2011.  We waited.  And waited.  And waited.  I made a few hostile calls to the seller’s broker, who kept blaming it on the bank.  I was convinced that good old Bank of America was stringing us along, hoping that we would rescind our offer which had been accepted by the seller, but was still significantly below the asking price.

FINALLY, 10 months later, we received word that we would be closing on the condo in a hurry.  They waited so long that we were trying to beat the clock before the property went up for judicial auction — which nobody wants.

Where we sit now is that we own the unit, and my father is preparing to move.

What have I done?

First, my father has at least two dumpsters full of shit that needs to be thrown away.  And who is going to execute that nasty task?  Not the 86 year old (who thinks he can lift furniture). Nope.  That job falls into my hands.

And who is going to organize the place?  Not the man who was yelled at for years by my mother to pick up his socks.  Not the man who has a penchant for collecting newspapers from the past month.  Nope.  Again . . . my job!

And WHO is responsible for all of his moving administration, such as the vetting and hiring of movers, change of address cards, switching the utilities, etc.?  Him?  NOPE!  Once again . . . all me, all the time.

He moves on August 15th.  I wonder if we can sell the place back before then.