How hard do we try?

I woke up this morning thinking about what’s been pressing on my mind for a whole week now—my parents. No big surprise there. But with Alzheimer’s steady march downward, Dad’s care and Mom’s health weigh heavy on my mind.

Over the three years or so, I’ve tried to be a partner to Mom and help her not only in small ways with chores or errands, but in larger ways with research, phone calls, and decision-making. I was trying to be helpful. But I see that we are at an impasse where we just see the situation and what needs to be done from different perspectives.

I came to the conclusion last week that I need to step back. Mom is in the driver’s seat. And even though she may kill herself continuing forward, there is little to nothing I can do about it. She has to be willing to help herself. If you are reading this Mom, I love you. I want you to make it through this to the other side. That’s all.

Just one more trauma of Alzheimer’s, seldom spoken about.

So for lack of anything better to talk about, I opened my little book “Don’t Forget to Sing in the Lifeboats” to a random page. I found this dilemma: which page do I read? I’ll show you both and you can decide for yourself.

The Right Attitude . . . Pg. 225 (I read this one first)

My center is giving way, my right is in retreat; situation excellent. I shall attack! –Ferdinand Foch, Marshal and Military theorist

Try, Try Again . . . Pg. 224

There is an old motto that runs, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” This is nonsense. It ought to read, “If at first you don’t succeed, quit, quit at once.” –Stephen Leacock, Writer and Economist

Morning light – November 19, 2012

23 thoughts on “How hard do we try?”

  1. Christine…you’ve captured so much emotion in this one short post. It truly is one of the seldom spoken about traumas of Alzheimers. I’m sorry about the impasse, but I’m glad you’ve reached some peace about it.

    I LOVE the second quote, by the way (which I need to adopt more often!)… “If at first you don’t succeed, quit, quit at once.” -Stephen Leacock, Writer and Economist.

    1. Thanks, Julia. Well, at least I may have a momentary peace. We’ll see how good I am sticking with it. In many cases I need to follow the advice in the second quote myself. Not easy to do.

  2. This must be a painful decision, Christine. You are such an honorable daughter–a lifetime of blessings to both your parents. I hope you can appreciate that fact. Blessings to you and your family this Thanksgiving, my friend.

  3. Even God has to step back at times until self will is ready for help. You made a tough choice and I believe you made the right choice for now. I’ve bee there. You and your family are in my prayers.

  4. ah dear precious Christine. I can only imagine how your heart and mind have struggled with all of this. When you come to a conclusion, as you did, it is the result of much agonizing introspection so I would trust that. As for the quotes, the first one should have stopped after ‘my center is giving way” only a military man would push on beyond that point! Mr. Leacock, of course, had a tremendous dry wit. Methinks he was poking fan at the futility of trying and trying and trying again with the same results!.
    I shall continue to keep you in my prayers that peace and strength of heart will be yours.

    1. I’ve had a bad week, but am pulling out of it. My mother is simply not doing well, but right now I don’t believe there is anything I can do to save her. I just hope she is strong enough to pull through this. She is exhausted with no break in sight (because she won’t do what it takes to have a break).

      Thanks for your prayers. Always needed.

  5. It is difficult at times with aging parents. My mother has been gone nearly five years now and it seems like only yesterday I went down to help take care of dad after his eye surgery as he had always depended on mom and needed someone. Not the best patient, mind you, but after losing mom and trying to move forward, the word patience took on new meaning. Now my sister lives there with her daughter and every day is an exercise with the same word. I go when I can to give her a break as there is no one else now. I commend you for your trying and I know you can’t see it but it will all be as it should when it should. Take care.

    1. Thanks for sharing your story, Renee. It does help to hear from those who are or have been in similar circumstances. I’ll hold tight to your words, “You can’t see it but it will all be as it should be when it should.”

      You take care, too.

  6. Yes, she’s still the mom. And spouse. She will know when she reaches her limit. She is one tough lady. I don’t suppose you got that trait from her, did you? 🙂
    Your morning light is lovely!
    I had to chuckle at your second reading. How many times would we like to throw up our hands and quit. But that is not in us.

  7. Hi Christine – I hear you .. and I sure hope that you are able to ‘forget’ for a while – I admire you hugely letting your mother hold her own … we just are impossible at realising sometimes we need to put our hand up for help. By stepping away for a while I hope sincerely life will ease for both of you – it’s a difficult time and I just hope the crunch when it comes won’t be too heart-rending for you ..

    Thanks for sending me your book “Dancing in Heaven” .. I’m so looking forward to reading as soon as I am able to … sometime during the winter I hope!

    With thoughts and I hope you can enjoy Thanksgiving remembering happy times – with hugs – Hilary

    1. I doubt I can “forget,” I’m just shooting for “stop talking about it and giving advice.” It would be easier to trust Mom to take care of it on her own if I were convinced she was strong enough to make good decisions that included concern for herself. She is simply exhausted. And I am powerless to do anything about it.

      I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts about Annie’s story. You’ve been with me through the thick and thin of publishing it.

  8. You’ve captured a lot in one short post. Hugs and wishing you and your family lots of strength, compassion, and the time to take a deep breath or two.

  9. It’s hard to know what to do so many times. I like that the book offered its little bits of wisdom to help you along the way. Remembering raising children and how challenging that was at times and once I was praying so hard and drew an “angel” card which had the words “Let go” written on them and showed a blond haired girl getting on a school bus. It was the right message, but hard to see at the time. I know you’ll find the way. Life will keep nudging you left or right.

    1. I know the letting go can be a big problem. I think right now what we struggle with most in regards to our parents is my mom “letting go.” This is such a difficult and cruel way to have to say good-bye to someone—it really draws out the agony of the loss.


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