The visit to my parents was sweet. And furry.
My dad was surprised to see my mid-size yellow Labrador retriever at the door around 10:00 am. Lucy, shaking her whole body, bounded toward my mom and startled her in a good way. I handed my dad some Butterfingers and oatmeal cookies and did a quick clean up of their small apartment.
Ivory, one of the aides, knocked on the door. She was also startled by Lucy, but friendly. She said she loves my parents, and always lets them “be the boss.” We discussed getting medication management care for my parents because my dad forgets to take 7 pills for his heart. My mom takes a pill for high blood pressure, but not often. Ivory said my mom “could fall into a coma without her pill and dad would think she’s asleep.” That got my attention.
I helped my mom get dressed in a raspberry velour sweat suit with a flowered turtleneck. She loved having me brush her hair and selected a silver beaded necklace. I reminded her to put on lipstick. She said she felt great. Happy. She walked to the living room and sat on the couch next to her husband of 63 years and they looked adorable. Content.
I offered my mom a Boost chocolate protein shake. She smiled and answered, ”I’ll give you a shake!” then wiggled her 99-pound, 5 ‘2” frame. I marveled at her lucid response considering she has severe Alzheimer’s. She took the bottle and drank the whole thing while we talked about my busy weekend with the boys.
It became time to head downstairs, so hand-in-hand through the hallway and into the elevator, my parents walked Lucy and me to the lobby. We said goodbye and my heart was full. I knew my parents were on their way to a chef-prepared “dinner“ in a beautiful dining room with a fireplace. My lunch would be with my husband at home and a segue to life with our sons.
The pace is busy, shuffling to and from my parents, the high school, the grocery store, plus to and from other activities. I can easily feel overwhelmed. My thoughts flip-flop from caring for my parents to caring for my boys and back again. I know I’ll need a cup of tea to sort out all my responsibilities. There is varsity basketball for Trevor and election judging for Chris and Austin. Meal planning for the week. My parents vote. My vote. My husband’s vote. A veteran’s lunch with my dad. Thanksgiving. Both birthdays of my parents. Dinner for tonight.
With a boiling-hot mug of tea cradled in both hands, steam rising so high, it could be a facial sauna, I can refocus. I’ll drink it sitting down, with my feet up and a fleece zebra blanket on my lap. It is a welcome cup of self-care. An act of self-love.
If I don’t take care of myself, I can’t take care of anyone else.