Welcome to Stories of Caring for Elderly Parents
Dauna Easley and Marky Olson began teaching together in the early 1970s. Their paths lead to different parts of the country but the annual Christmas card kept them in touch.
Both of them love writing and both have been published by Chicken Soup for the Soul. Both earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.
Both of them taught elementary school and moved on to teaching high school.
Both enjoy long marriages, children and grandchildren.
And now, both of them are caring for Elderly Parents.
Marky’s mother is gone now and her father lives in an Adult Family Home in the Seattle area.
Dauna’s mother still lives in her own home, near Dauna’s home in the Cincinnati area.
Suddenly, their Christmas-card friendship has rebuilt itself on the strength of the past and the challenging power of walking the final path with elderly parents.
Read Dauna and Marky’s stories in blog posts and their book
Caregiving Elderly Parents: Real Stories from two Caregiving Baby Boomers
Most recent post:
It’s 2:30 am as I write this. I have been awake since 1:00 am unable to sleep. Why? Too many people need me. And EVERYONE needs me tomorrow. It is impossible to please everyone tomorrow, no matter how hard I try. I am lying awake trying to find a way to be everything to everyone. All of them are sleeping. I’ve gradually begun to understand what I am up against. It is called emotional blackmail.
Let me explain why I’m awake. A big snow storm is expected tomorrow. That’s fine with me. I’d love to stay home, read a good book, maybe build a fire and enjoy looking at the snow from inside my snug home. That is one thing that I know is not a choice that I will have.
Here’s what really is going to happen. My grandson is transferring into a new college and tomorrow (Sunday) is move in day. My daughter, his mother, had a wreck this week while trying to get to work early on another snowy day. Her car is not ready to drive and her fear of driving in the snow has been heightened. My car (and my driving) are needed for the move in. My thought process? Let’s load the car last night (didn’t happen) and get there bright and early. My grandson says, “I can’t pick up my room keys until 10:00 am. Add into the mix that this is a NFL football playoff game in this same city (only blocks away from this college) at 1:00 tomorrow. He also has no specific directions on this move in. If I survive the traffic and the snow, where do I park?
But it is much more complicated than that. My husband had two strokes this year. He is completely self absorbed and can’t see past what he wants at this moment. On Sunday he likes to go to my mom’s house and watch football. Remember this is a play off game that starts at 1:00. He will want to stop at his favorite restaurant on the way and pick up his preferred meal to take along. In his mind this is not optional. Anything that varies from that plan will be considered a personal slight. He no longer can drive and I will be required to drive him.
Yesterday I drove my daughter to my granddaughter’s gymnastic meet forty-five minutes away. Remember, no car for my daughter? But also I like to watch my grandchildren in their functions so this was enjoyable for me. I explained this to my husband and invited him along. He didn’t want to go. When I arrived home he said loudly, “Where have YOU been?” He knew. He isn’t senile. He just wanted to remind me that I wasn’t doing exactly what he wanted. Emotional blackmail. When I questioned him later about this comment, he said, “I was just teasing.” He wasn’t teasing. He was controlling. It is a skill he has perfected.
While I worried about how I would maneuver everyone’s needs tomorrow, my aging mother called. She added two requests to this impossible day. Could I possibly pick up some Depends type products and her latest prescription (available in two different locations) on my way over to her house to watch the game? She pointed out that she tries her best never to ask me to do anything for her. Seriously? Last week I took her out to buy this same product and I also picked up two prescriptions and washed her hair for her. I told her what was on everyone else’s agenda for tomorrow. She said she understood, but immediately repeated her request again reminding me that she tries never to ask me to do anything. I write her checks, send the cards she wants to send to others, shop for her, take her to the doctor and on other errands, and pick up her prescriptions.
If I don’t do what my mother wants she threatens things like, “I guess I’ll just end up back in the hospital,” or “Look how you have me all upset,” or “Dauna, I don’t have anyone to help me and I try never to ask you to do anything for me.” (I have two siblings who live locally). My husband says, “Where have YOU been?” My daughter says, “I guess we’ll need your help tomorrow. My car’s not fixed and I won’t be driving in the snow any time soon. I know she is terrified, I watched her tremble as I drove her home from work on the day of her wreck. My grandson is thinking why is Grammy so possessed about getting everywhere early? Chill Grammy. I so love my grandson and want to help him all I can. I know this mid year college transfer hasn’t been easy for him. But on play off day? In the snowstorm?
So why am I the only one awake in the middle of the night? Why will I be at fault for failing some of them tomorrow? Not one of them would think they are pressuring me, they just want what they want. What we have going here is quadruple emotional blackmail. Who will I disappoint tomorrow? My husband, my mother, my daughter, my grandson? I’ll probably rush around doing all that I can do and yet all of them will let me know that I disappointed them in some way or another. Tomorrow is an impossible agenda for me and it’s feeling more and more like a typical day in my life.
My advice to you. Don’t do as I do. I’ve heard there is a book out there about emotional blackmail. Someone who knows me well read the comments on the cover of the book and they sounded very familiar. Things like, “If you really loved me you would…” and “I don’t know how many Christmases I have left.” These comments sounded way too familiar to me. I tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to read that book and report back to you.
Instead right now I’m still awake thinking, maybe if I got dressed and went to Walmart in the middle of the night I could get some of those items for mom. Does that restaurant open early enough for me to get those items for my husband and take him to my mom’s hours early before I help my grandson? Can I make it back in time to pick up her prescription and wash her hair? One thing for sure, I won’t be watching the game on TV, reading a good book or watching the snow outside my window. None of the things I want matter.
All of the people I describe are asleep. It is now 4:30 am. If you are wiser than I am, you are asleep now too.