Wednesday, December 7, 2011

When the Child Becomes the Parent of a Parent


I hope everyone is having a wonderful week. It is another wet one here in the hills with an additional three inches of rain in the last three days. There is a pattern going on here with the weather tracks that I am not liking at all. Maybe I should count my blessings that it is not snow yet instead. LOL! 


   I do not like to get too personal on my blogs about certain matters in my live but I do want to share one event that does touch some families. Many may not know it but my Mom suffers from dementia. It is a hard thing to see happen to ones parent who has always been the strong one in the family. Mom was always the one you went to for the answers or the one you went to when you had a problem and needed help. She is still able to cope with some of the everyday things but some days are worse than others when it comes to figuring out the even those simplest things. I think I realized how bad it was on certain days when she could not remember anymore how to tell how much gas she had in the car and thought she was out of gas because she was looking at the heat gage on the car. Although she does not drive anymore only on the rarest occasion to my house you start to contemplate whether to disable the car or take the keys away. It is hard after all these years to have the tables turned and you feel more like the parent now than the child. I do not hate it as a burden for myself because she would never be that but because of seeing what it is slowly doing to a once very active and intelligent woman that is my Mom. Since we are a small family now with just my Mom, my son and daughter and I left in the immediate family it falls on my daughter and I to take care of Mom now. One fortunate thing is that we all live so close and Mom is just across the road and field from me. Also my daughter lives beside my Mom and I am so thankful for her because she is right  there to see what Mom may or may not be up to. Mom cannot go anywhere with out going by my daughter first. My daughter is indeed a blessing.
One of the things my Mom always loved to do was to keep track of  birthdays, deaths and special events that have happened in our family by writing them on her calendars each year and then carrying them over to  the next years calendar but even that has become hard now for her to do with accuracy. It is just one small thing amongst the many that she cannot seem to do now.
So I decided to make my first calendar this year to give to Mom.

CalanderJanuary_2011   I took some of my photographs and add them to the calendar which was hard to sort through with all of the pictures I have collected over the years.
Digital cameras are just the best devices. LOL!


I added all of the birthdays, deaths and special memoires  onto the days of the months so they would be there for Mom to see whenever she wanted.


Picked out some quotes to be added to go along with the pictures.

The fact is that it was a project that turned out to be a lot of fun to make once I got started.  And with the online “Treasure Book” program out of Canada it was a breeze. I tried to find an American program here in the states because of postage costs but the prices for the calendars were higher so I went to our great neighbors in the north to get mine made and it was still cheaper.
The program made it easy to create with choosing the pictures the hardest part of the process. You can save the program and tweak and play around with the calendar until you have it the way you want and then order it right off of the same program.
I was not certain what the calendars would actually look like when I received them but they were just beautiful and the paper used was heavy stock and not the flimsy stuff which is what I was wondering if they would be made out of.
I was really please with the outcome of the whole processes and may try it again next year. You can also make Photo Books and Greeting cards with the program so those are a few options I may want to play around with some day.

I am hoping this will be one small thing maybe that will make it easier for Mom and help her to keep track of those important days that she always loved to remember.
So if you are wondering where to donated some funds before the first of the year please give to the Alzheimer's Association so they can find a cure to this heart breaking disease that touches so many families now. Mom takes medication which has slowed it down but we need a cure for future Moms and Dads.
Thank you so much for listening to my story!


Do you make a calendar each year?

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Balisha said...

Hi Lona,
My heart just cries for you.I went through this with my Mom who had Alzheimers. It and dementia are the cruelest diseases. My Mom never drove a car, so that was one thing we didn't have to deal with. I have one brother and it fell on my Dad and the two of us. My Dad is my hero...he took care of her for 10 yrs,I could feel your love and pain as I read this post. The calendar is a great idea and your photos are exceptional. I hope things go well for your family. I have always enjoyed reading about you and your daughter...and your relationship. Kids can be a blessing in a situation like this.

Becca's Dirt said...

I am all teary eyed now thinking of my mother. Mothers are so special aren't they. We always go/went to them with questions and such. My mom is still alive and kicking. I fear this terrible thing happening in my family. My heart goes out to you Lona. The calender is such a great idea. Hope you mom will be able to use it and remember those special days. I know she will enjoy your beautiful photos. Blessings Lona.

Liz said...

Hi Lona,

So sorry to hear your mum is suffering from dementia - I cannot begin to imagine how it must feel wacthing your mum slowly forget more and more.
It's very much a worry for us all, wondering what the future may hold for us in old age.

Bernie said...

I've often thought how it might be if my Dad was diagnosed with Dementia, as it does run on his side of the family. How would I go if the relationship changed? I think your Mum is so very lucky, having two very caring and loving people close by to look out for her.

Your gift is just beautiful. What a lovely thought. I'm sure she will appreciate it so much. The photos are just gorgeous and the quotes are wonderful. Even if she forgets sometimes who you are, I know she will feel the depth of your love.

Tatyana@MySecretGarden said...

Dear Lona, it is so sad. You are a good daughter and a good mother. I wish we never had this type of experiences...
It also makes us think about ourselves, doesn't it? I will pray for your Mom and for everyone in your family.
As for calendars, I use Costco. The quality of their calendars is good (I order 11 X 14). I agree with you that choosing pictures is the toughest part.
I will check the company that you used. Thank you for this recommendation.
I love the photos and words which you included in your calendar. You always publish great pictures. That is one of the reasons why I love your blog.
Wish you and your family the very best this holiday season!
Thanks again for the seeds!

~Gardener on Sherlock Street said...

What a blessing that you and your daughter can be there for your mom. The calendar is beautiful and a wonderful gift!

Debby said...

I have never made one before but I love getting them. The quality has always been good......mine have come from Snapfish.
Please take the keys away from your mother. My father had
Alzheimers and my mother-in-law now has dementia. It was so hard for my mom to take the keys away from my father. I was so worried that someone else would get hurt. Like a whole family. My MIL was doing really scary things before taking her keys.
Love all the beautiful red in your banner.
I am ready for the rain to stop and the snow to start.

madcobug said...

Prayers for all of you. I know that is heartbreaking. My Mother had started dementia but Cancer got her first. It's hard to be the caregiver. Your calender is beautiful.

Giga said...

Wchodząc dzisiaj na Twoją stronkę nie sadziłam, ze odżyją we mnie wspomnienia. Moja nieżyjąca już Mama też na tą okrutną chorobę cierpiała. To strasznie smutne patrzeć, co z tą osobą się dzieje i potrzebuje ona stałej opieki.Życzę Ci wytrwałości w opiece i pozdrawiam

HolleyGarden said...

Sad to see our parents diminishing before our eyes. They were always our rock - now we must be theirs. Mine have other health problems, but we truly do become their caretaker. Take away those keys! I think your calendar is a wonderful idea for your mother. I love that quote about the angels.

FlowerLady said...

Dear Lona ~ I am sorry to hear that your mother is suffering and in turn you are also suffering. Your calender created for her is a lovely, heartfelt gift.

Love and hugs to you at this time.


Gardening in a Sandbox said...

Hi Lona: You are a dear daughter. What a thoughtful and well thought out gift for your Mom. You did a wonderful job on it and I am sure it is going to be so handy for her. V

pogonip said...

Hugs back to you, Lona! What an awesome gift for your mom--your wonderful photos, the perfect quotes and all the dates that have been so meaningful to your mother. I love that you appreciate your family so very much--it's a good example for all of us.

sweetbay said...

Dear Lona I am very sorry your family is going through this.. Alzheimer's is a cruel disease. My grandmother had it, as did my husband's stepgrandmother who was very dear to him. Your present to your mother is both beautiful and thoughtful.

I started making calendars a few year's ago for my husband's office and family members. I started using Shutterfly last year and like that company a lot.

Stephanie said...

Lona, your thoughts is most lovely. Have the best December and Christmas this year :-D

T Opdycke said...

Dear Lona...I understand what you're going through with your beloved mother. I watched a dear friend slowly become the "parent" to her father. I think the calender is a wonderful idea that will help your mom to recall important events. And it's ok to put it out there once in awhile.

Blessings to you and yours!

Anonymous said...

Our Youth Group at church just did a walk for this are a very good daughter and mother Lona. I am in the process of choosing photos for a calendar too, it is the hardest part. Yours is very nice!

Sunray Gardens said...

Looks great and that was a wonderful idea for her. I know exactly how you feel and agree it is a horrible disease and one I very much dread. My best to all of you.
Cher Sunray Gardens

Pearl@serenitycove said...

Oh Lona, You are in my prayers.It's so hard to see our parents getting older and having health issues. My dad is getting very forgetful and I pray it's not the beginning of Alzheimers.
The calendar is a wonderful idea. Your's is beautiful. God Bless

Karen said...

Lona, coming from a woman who airs her dirty (and clean) laundry far too often, I am sending you a hug. I know what this is like first-hand and it ain't fun.

My mom is still doing very well for 91 years old, but she's still driving and I'm always worried about that. I rode with her the other day, though, and she did very well, I didn't feel the need to leap from the car or stomp on the imaginary brake on the passenger side anyway.

My dad had a possible stroke along with senile dementia and overnight, everything changed. He would wander, in his mind and his body, we'd have to keep him in the house at night, he was always going to search for the cows to bring them home or go looking for 3 year old me whom he could never find. Most of the time he had no idea who I was, but he was headstrong and would take off on the tractor, oh, it was not a good time. Luckily he did not want to drive the car, but I couldn't take his tractor away, he was adamant. As long as he was just running around on the farm with it, we figured the public was safe, anyway. He was a handful, like an 88 yr old toddler. There were some pleasant aspects to the change though, his personality went from angry to rather mellow, and when he had lucid moments he was a very different man, not at all hostile any more. In some ways, the change was very welcome, in others, not so much. But I know the constant worry. He passed away ten years ago already, and though I know I shouldn't admit it, Mom and I were relieved. He was finally safe.

Mom has some problems with her memory at times, but so far, she is good. Just as you live close to your mother, I do, too, and I go to see her or call her every day. Still, I worry about the hours I'm not checking up on her, did she fall? did she have an emergency?

I was parenting my father when my kids were young; now my kids are gone and I've got Mom to care for. This reminds me, I had better be nice to my own kids, they will be choosing the home I end up in!

I wrote a book again, Lona, sorry, I love the calendar you have made, it is just gorgeous. Hugs to you, dear lady!

Tootsie said...

I am afraid of this happening to my parents. I know they are looking for me to be moving closer so that they can get old on me and I don't like it one bit. I remember my late grandfather in law...he had the same issues your mother has and it was heartbreaking to watch him slowly slip away from us. My heart goes out to you my friend. Keep her close...and enjoy her! She is lucky to have you and your daughter

Jan@Thanks for today. said...

I am so sorry this disease has taken hold of your mom, Lona. It is indeed a difficult situation for you and so stressful. I love your gift for her and will check out the website you used if I get time to think about mking a calendar. My husband's dad is suffering from dementia, as did his grandmother (his dad's mom) before him. I hope and pray there will be a day when it can be prevented all together. Merry Christmas, sweet friend.

Stella said...

What a lovely thoughtful gift for your mother. I know she will enjoy it so much all year long. We took care of my mother-in-law for ten years who had Alzheimers. It is heartbreaking to watch those you love lose who they are and were. My prayers for you and your family as you make this journey. Stella

Gatsbys Gardens said...

It is so difficult to become mothers to our mothers but it will happen to all of us. My mother was a very strong person and it became so difficult to see her have to rely on her walker to get around and me to take care of her daily needs. I think of her every day and miss her especially at this time of year.


Indie said...

What a heartbreaking situation. The calendar is such a beautiful idea! The pictures look lovely, with such wonderful quotes.

We make several calendars each Christmas, as our parents love pictures of the grandkids. I've ordered from a couple places, all with good results. Such a great, personal gift!

Zoey said...

What a lovely gift that calendar is. What a heart-wrenching disease your mom is suffering. I am sure having you and your daughter's help is comforting to her.

Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

Oh dear Lona, I am so sorry to hear about your mom. My uncle had Alzheimers and my mom and I were the ones who were taking care of him. It is so sad.
I love your header with the beautiful poinsettias. Your calendar is wonderful! It will be a great help for your mom. I use Shutterfly for some products with my photos. Haven't done a calendar, but have done a few books.

.............................. said...

Hi Lona, It is really hard to watch a parent struggle with dementia. I feel for you! My mother-in-law has the same struggle. We live far apart, but like your daughter, we have the comfort of knowing that there is someone close at had to help out. My sister-in-law shoulders the burden.
Your calendar project looks really terrific. I am definitely going to check out their website. This sounds like a great family and friends kind of gift for the holidays.

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

What a sweet and thoughtful and beautiful gift. I can imagine it's very difficult for you to see your mom having more trouble with her memory. I worked for many years as a nurse in a nursing home and in home health and I saw so many children (and grandchildren) that had become their parents caregivers. She raised you and you raised your daughter to be caring and compassionate people. I know she will love that calender!

Anonymous said...

Lona ~ so sorry to read this & that it's happening to your wonderful Mom. I understand about sharing personal info too as I have the same hesitations. But from reading your comments, I can see how supportive it can be too. I hope she will stay safe and that you all can take care of each other too. Care giving can be exhausting even tho you want to provide it.
p.s. LOVE your calendar ~ what a great idea!

Elephant's Eye said...

Haven't made a calender, but I can both see the thoughtful pleasure you took and making it, and imagine your mother's delight in using it. Hard to see your mother fading. My middle sister looks after our mother. Each time we go to Cape Town my mother is even more of a 'little' old lady. 2013 she will be one hundred.

Her body fades, but her mind is still clear. She has just started refreshing her school Latin. I take my hat off to her! Good to hear you have three strong women journeying together.

Sissy said...

I am new here, lurking for a few days, but wanted to add my thoughts and tell you that you have lots of support out here, in Blogland. Your calendar gift is so touching and your photos are lovely.
I will continue to visit you, I hope you will update your mom's progress in this venture you are on together.

Anonymous said...

Lona, Love the calendar idea. I too, became the parent of my mother in her final years. It was a sad decline, but a duty I would not have traded for anything. Prayers for you today as your and your mom continue on this journey...

Splendid Little Stars said...

The calender is wonderful and perfect.
I do know what you're going through. It is so difficult to watch someone you dearly love, become incompetent. I watched over my mom for a few years before she died in '09. Her situation was different, with a brain that worked well sometimes and sometimes not. I remember a "conversation" about how to use a telephone when she said something like she wasn't used to these new fangled things.
wishing you comfort and peace...