I feel really bad. I am a terrible wife, for sure. Just be glad YOU didn’t marry me! I gave my husband what could possibly be the worst birthday present ever. I asked him go with me to Slippery Rock to help care for my mom who had just had hip replacement surgery. Yep….it’s true – that’s how Kevin spent his 59th birthday…..helping me to care for my mom.
Fortunately, Kevin rolls with the punches and made the most of the situation. His brother , Mike, who married my sister, Pegs, and their kids, as well as my sister, Candy, helped to make it somewhat of a celebratory event last Friday night because they all came to my parents’ house to wish Kevin a happy birthday. This amidst the administration of medication, arguing with Mom about taking her coumadin, and emptying potty chairs! Yep – it was a swingin’ time!
It was a changing of the guards so to speak as Candy and Pegs relinquished their parental care-taking while I took over for the weekend. It’s just too bad, that my nursing care weekend fell on Kevin’s birthday. Sure – Kev could have just stayed home in Hershey and had a lovely weekend by himself…..any man’s dream (OMG – what is wrong with this man for agreeing to come with me to administer recovery care??)!
But – he drove the 4 long hours with me to Slippery Rock, bought himself his own Dairy Queen birthday cake that said “Happy Birthday to Me” (he had a coupon….damn – I wish I had a pic of that cake!), talked politics (a losing battle with my parents), cleaned out their refrigerator (sardines and all), and helped my dad construct a rabbit fence around the green bean garden.
Mom and Dad have a beautiful house and property with a pond. It is a lot to maintain. All of us daughters have helped with the landscaping this spring. Mom and Dad have a finished basement where Kevin and I slept in separate beds this weekend (sadly). The beds were actually me and my sisters’ childhood single beds with terrible foam toppers on top of the mattresses that cause the sleeper to roll all over the place. Kevin dubbed them “jello beds.” We complained about them across the room from one another as we drifted off to sleep (while trying not to jiggle-roll off the bed and onto the floor).
I brought Hazel’s baby monitor so that I could hear my mom upstairs in case she needed anything (which she did routinely at 3:17 AM and 5:38 AM). My mom would ring this old bell (an antique find!) which I would hear through the baby monitor. I would then shoot like a bat out of hell out of my bed, up the basement steps, and beeline it to my mom’s bedroom to take care of her needs. Kevin likened my shot out of bed to a horse race with the horses flying out of the gate at the sound of the horn……pretty accurate.
Usually Mom just needed some water, pain meds, or comforting. The sprint out of bed at the wee hours of the morning was an adrenaline rush for me followed by sheer exhaustion and collapsing back into the jello bed.
Daytime was easier with meal preparation, cleaning, gardening and Mom telling me exactly how to do things for the umpteenth time. The woman is particular and I am just like her (yikes!). My dad also pitched in…. and watching him care for my mom and seeing to her needs was extremely touching. I was there to help, but Dad stepped up to the plate and took on some duties. He knows that us girls will not be there to help in another week or so and it will be up to him to take care of Mom.
Out of this bummer of a weekend is the realization that growing old together can be so magnificent. What a blessing it is to have lived long enough with your soulmate to enter those twilight years! The partner that you have enjoyed early married life with, endured the trials and tribulations of raising children with, suffered the bittersweet life of the empty nest with, and now entered the golden years with…..that someone who is still the love of your life! There are not many who get to experience that.
My parents are 87 years old. Getting around is certainly not as easy as it used to be for them. They are still so active politically, civically, and educationally. The mental acuity is there but the physical ability has diminished greatly. But – having each other to lean on is awesome! How many people get that privilege? Will you and I have that when we are 87? I hope so!
Anyway – despite the unexciting birthday weekend that Kevin had (thanks to me), it brought home to the both of us how important we are to each other. That we want to be there, walkers, joint replacements, compression hose and all for one another as we age. We want to celebrate so many more birthdays together even if they are boring. We want to accompany each other to physical therapy. We want to listen to each other even when we can’t hear. We want to have our children enjoy visiting us, even if it means that they have to occasionally empty our bedside commode. That there is no greater love than sacrificing for the other. My parents have taught me many things, but I learned the true meaning of love this weekend.