My Mother told me, “Don’t get old.”

wine8/30/2016 I’ve returned from my trip to the US. I was really happy to get back to my little island and my daily routine but every time I have to say good bye to my folks, it just keeps getting harder. They are 95 and 91. Time is of the essence.

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At Appplebee’s

This visit wasn’t a hang out and relax one, I was trying to help my sister, brother-in-law and brother prepare my folks to move closer to my sister Missy.

I arrived in BWI at midnight and made my way to the rental car place. I knew my cell was dead but I had my charger in my carry-on so I was good to go. I got my rental and left the lot, but my cell wouldn’t charge. I went across the street and sat in a vacant parking lot screwing with my phone. I needed my GPS to get to my sister’s house. I could get it to come on but it wouldn’t start to charge, and then it shut off. After about 30 minutes of this crap, I was ready to cry. I was hungry and tired and wanted to be somewhere so I could relax. I decided to go back to the rental car garage and go inside the building and charge my phone. I got the wall charger out of my bag and went inside. I told the girl at the car rental desk what was going on and she said to have a seat and charge my phone. About 5 min. after I went in there, she said, we have car chargers here for sale, maybe that would work for you. I decided to buy one and got my money out and she said she had an extra, I could have it. She made my night. I was finally off to my sister’s house. I arrived there around 2 AM, meaning I had been up 20 hours so far and was running on fumes.

Missy and her husband Mark and I stayed up another 2 hours talking about the situation with Mom and Dad and some of the obstacles they and my brother, P.J., have gone through trying to make this move happen. I feel like a schmuck because I live so far away. Once they move they will be 30 minutes from BWI, not 90 and 4 minutes from my sister, not 90, closer for P.J. also. The move is good for various reasons and I am really happy they are doing it. They will still be living independently but in an apartment, not a condo. There will be someone to clean weekly and change their bedding. The dining hall serves excellent meals and it is in the same building that they live in. Convenience all around.

I stayed with my sister Sat and Saturday night too. I don’t get to see her and Mark much so it was nice to hang out with them. I left Missy’s on Sunday morning and went to Ikea and then to Mom and Dad’s.

My job while visiting my folks was to help (push, coerce, trick) my Mother to part with all the shit she had stored in that condo. THIS WAS VERY HARD. There were 3 expired cans of cheese, 2013. A single serving apple pie on the top shelf of a cupboard from 2012. This was the tip of the iceberg. She had enough Q-tips to clean the ears of each child on the island of Roatan. She did not want to part with her waste cans, she had 7, not counting the big one in the kitchen and the 2 outside the kitchen door in the garage or the HUGE one outside the garage door. I went through all of her cupboards and boxed stuff to get rid of and I threw out trash bags full of dead food, broken scissors, tie bars and cuff links. Jars of nail polish that were hardened in the jar?Enough, no more about the amounts of stuff but the hard time Mom was having parting with it was a very new, different reaction to have to deal with. Like, “really Mom, you want these 11 empty pill bottles in case you travel. Where are you going?” It truly was hard for her to let go of so many things. Usually my Dad is all about throwing crap out. He threw out so much of my stuff, so much of everyone’s stuff when we were little. He never liked clutter; however he has been living in it for some time.

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Cleaning out the computer room

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And I caught my Dad on this stool, I got him off of there quickly and finished the job myself. It’s really difficult for him because he was always in charge of things, everything was always under control when he was around.

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This is how hot it was when I arrived in the Solomon’s

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Dad found a box of these old hair clips and a few of the pins you stuck through the curlers to keep them in place.

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Remember these things? We stuck them into the different colored/sized curlers and actually slept with them on our heads. I remember having dents on my forehead from these pins.

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Found this old pic, I think it was from 1958, Me, my brother and cousin, on the beach in Florida.

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Mom’s idea of tying one on. O’Doull’s through a straw. UGH.

Mom has knee trouble and she just broke her wrist so she has trouble getting out of chairs and out of a car. Every time she did either she would look at me and say,”Debbie-Leigh, don’t get old.” It was really sad because I am getting old, not a damn thing I can do  about it and she doesn’t seem to be enjoying her golden years at all. I sure hope once they get settled in their new place things will be easier and the fact that they are up in years won’t be so evident. Dad is going to stop driving, which breaks my heart and makes me happy. I know it’s his independence but I also know mentally he is a danger on the road to himself and to others. So bittersweet. So many thoughts in this old muddled brain of mine. I find myself trying to exercise in the pool more and to be more active, with Mom’s constant warning floating on the sidelines of my brain.

Mom and I had some disagreements about things to keep and things to donate and things to trash. Keeping was the easy part. Throwing out spices she has not used for 5 years was traumatic. Dad and I had an argument also, he was being very stubborn, changing his mind rapidly and being nasty about it. I feel bad that we argued but it sort of cleared the air and got him on my side disposing of things. We went from keeping 25 photos (wall art) to about 8. Dad gave them to the neighbor who uses the frames immediately, that way Mom couldn’t change her mind. We were donating things ASAP because she was developing the habit of going out in the garage and looking through the boxes of crap we had just thrown out. I had to rein her back in to the task at hand many times.

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I told her to get rid of her LARGE sewing kit. She doesn’t sew, never has. She finally agreed, except she pulled the pinking shears out because they were expensive. Then she threw out all of these flyers that came in the mail only to go back through the trash can looking for one because it had a sewing kit for sale. I died.

Mom wanted a smaller TV stand but didn’t want to spend much money so I suggested Walmart. She and I went and looked at them and she saw one she liked, but they didn’t have it in the store. We went home and I looked online and saw that the store over the bridge had it. We went out to eat at Olive Garden that night but before that we wanted Dad to look at the TV stand. We got to Walmart and he said he wasn’t going in. I said if you think I’m lugging this thing out here to have you say you don’t like it, you’re wrong. Now get out, we’re going to look at it. I had him push the cart so he had something to lean on. We went back and I found it on a lower shelf. Now these things are made out of particle board and weigh a TON. I got it off the shelf and dropped it on the floor. Great, now I had to get it back up and in the cart. Dad wanted to help, I said no way. I asked some young guy to help me load it and he was very nice and put it in the cart. After we paid we asked for help to get it in the car. We had dinner @ Olive Garden and then went home. I was going to get the TV stand out of the back of Mom and Dad’s mini van for them.  Mom was insisting they had a cart to move it but she didn’t know where it was. Dad said the neighbor had it. Mom said, “go get it, we need it.” I have the 3000# piece balanced, ready to slide onto a cart and wheel into the garage when Dad rounds the corner with a walker. A flipping walker. I said, “what the hell is that? ” “It’s a cart.” I said “like hell it is, it’s a walker. How the hell am I supposed to move this damn thing with a walker?” By then I was feeling very Charlie Chaplinesque and had to laugh at the situation. Here I am moving a TV stand that weighs as much as my car with a freaking fold up walker. We’re all insane. I got the damn thing balanced on the walker and held the other end and wheeled it over the lip into their garage. When I went to get it off the walker (am I really saying this shit?) I dropped it on the concrete floor, I tried to stop it from hitting the ground and it landed on my middle finger. My Mom yelled, “Oh my God I hope that stand didn’t break.” All the while my finger is still under the 3000# box.

I drank a shit ton that night.

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My beloved wine

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It came from a Black Box, not a green Bandit box and I have to say, this was pretty decent wine.

The next day Mom and I were going somewhere and as we’re walking out of the house she says to me, “I can see your breasts.” I said “no you can’t.” She said “yes I can and I can see a little of the lace on your bra.” So I pulled my V neck Hurley T down to my navel and asked if that was better. She dropped it.

I took a walk down to the pier one afternoon, it was so hot out and there was barely a ripple of a breeze.

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The Patuxent River.

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Osprey nest

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A view up, the white building is apartments, dining hall and gym of Asbury, the place they have lived for 11 years.

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Mom melts her ice cream in the microwave so she can dish it out easier.

My sister and I were talking one evening while I was at Mom and Dad’s and she told me a few week ago she took them up to Prince Frederick (about 30 min N) for Dad’s check up. They stopped at Applebee’s on the way home for lunch. Mom said she was cold and Missy said she would run out to the car and grab a sweater. Now Missy moves fast just like I do, so she was back in a flash. And they were gone. Mom and Dad weren’t there. WTH? She looked around and found them sitting elsewhere AT A TABLE FOR TWO. She asked what they were doing and Dad said he didn’t like that spot so they moved and Missy said, “but you moved to a table for two, what about me?” I was dying laughing when she told me the story and she was laughing so hard her dog and cat came running to see what was wrong.

After many days of packing and talking in the evening (through Law and Order, which they watch 4 or 5 shows in a row but the TV is on mute most of the time but they act like they’re the world’s best lip readers and they knew what was going on the whole time the TV was on mute)  {I was so confused} we decided to go to Applebee’s to eat but I told them I wasn’t leaving for any jackets or anything and if I went to the bathroom, they had to stay in the same place until I returned. The Olive Garden and Applebee’s are their favorite places to eat. Not mine.

Obviously I have re-located and not been told. Mom told everyone, this is my daughter Debbie-Leigh, she lives on an island in the Pacific. I say Caribbean. Next person, same spiel, I say Caribbean. I continue to say Caribbean every time I am introduced as the daughter who lives on an island in the Pacific. Geography was not one of her favorite classes.

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I was freezing in their house. I am not a fan of A/C and was really happy I had gotten Bill new socks. I even wore them to bed. In fact, I pulled the floor vent out of the floor in the guest bed room, closed it, put it back and piled pillows on top to keep the cold air away.

My time to head home was drawing near. I was really missing the dogs, it’s too bad they don’t understand words and actually knew I was returning, as opposed to deserting them for the rest of their lives. I couldn’t wait to get their wet sloppy kisses. I didn’t go overboard shopping for them, buying mostly NylaBone toys and a few more stainless food bowls.

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Parting shot before I got in my car and cried half the way to BWI.

My trip home took 24 hours. I left Mom and Dad’s at 10 AM and drove to Baltimore, waited several hours there, then to Denver where my plane landed at 6:01 and the flight I was getting on boarded at 5:55. I had to run again. From Denver I flew  to  Los Angeles, then had to find the Avianca terminal. Once there, they changed gates, I got to the last gate and was sitting there and they called my name. I went up to the counter and they asked about a return ticket to the states, I said, no, I live in Roatan. They asked for my residency card (which I am still waiting for) so I gave them my Constancia that says I am a resident of Honduras and they thanked me and that was it. It was interesting. I was the only white girl on a plane full of Central American’s from LAX to San Salvador. I was bummed because I’m Premier Gold on UAL and had to fly Avianca to San Salvador in row 30D. Turned out the plane was empty and I had all 3 leather seats to myself as well as a USB port and disco lighting. Avianca was a cool flight.

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The whole darn row to myself.

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Mood lighting

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Leaving LAX, headed for El Salvador.

The El Salvador airport was spotlessly clean and vacant. I sat alone for several hours at my gate waiting to board my flight to Roatan. Once again, the plane was pretty empty. There was a couple across the row from me on the way to Roatan. The girl sounded like a drunk Daffy Duck and she was not using her inside voice. They were pointing out Toxic Hole and West Bay and I’m all, dude, that’s NOT even Roatan. I didn’t say anything, I just continued to allow them to be delusional.

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Cool shot of the mountains through the scratched window on my way to RTB.

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HAH! On Roatan, the most popular beer is Salva Vida, or life saver.

I always get teary eyed returning to the rock and this time was no different. My flight arrived at almost 10 AM, making for a 24 hour trip for me. Bill met me, we ran a few errands (still trying to get my replacement residency card) then made our way home, I was so anxious to see the dogs.

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They were all on the porch and they saw me coming.

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It was a glorious reunion, I love these guys so much.

I am thrilled to be back on the rock, I spent a few days organizing all the stuff I bought, getting groceries, all the normal stuff. We have some friends staying here so I had to get the downstairs cleaned up also, Carla came and did that. I’ve spent a few days poolside, today we delivered some soccer uniforms and hopefully I’ll catch up with my friends this weekend.

It’s always nice to visit the US and see my family but I can honestly say I prefer island life to living stateside.

I’m looking forward to getting underwater again and playing with my case for my dive camera, it will allow me to go deeper and take photos, Thursday will be the trial day for it so stay tuned, lots of island info and fun shots returning soon.

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8 thoughts on “My Mother told me, “Don’t get old.”

  1. You are going thru now what I went thru in the mid 80’s with my mom. Brought her from NH to Cal to live in a senior center. I can really sympathize with you. Enjoy them while they are here. They are awesome people and you will really miss them.
    As for preferring “The Rock” over the US, I understand that too. I miss Campo Los Compadres and would prefer to live there permently, not just 4-5 months of the year. Coming back to the US is very stress inducing, down there I have no stress, I get up in the morning, make my coffee under the palapa and many mornings watch the dolphins hunting in the sea from my rocking chair under the palapa. In the states it is always hurry, hurry, hurry, down there manana. Fortunately for you Bill is thinking in the same vein as you. Judy gets bored there and would never consider living there. Anyway. as always, best to you and Bill.

    • It was a tough visit but it had to be done and I had to help in some way. It was the least I could do. I hope once they get moved and all the stress associated with it is gone that they will relax and enjoy their new easier to live in place.

  2. Hoping your parents settle into their new place. It is difficult to be so far away and the guilt can be just as bad. We love living in Belize so far. I just had an island birthday 62. We get by with very little stuff. Don’t miss anything we got rid of. Less to clean. Once you de clutter your life ask yourself why it took so long to do it in first place.

  3. Susan Staib says:

    Love, love, love your blogs Deb! I feel like I know your parents! I do most definitely remember your Dad from my high school hairdos! He was the talk of the town and the best! They are so comical and now I know that’s where you get it! I can’t imagine how difficult it is for you to leave. When will they actually be moving?

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    • Hi Sue, thanks for following along. My parents will be in their new place Sept. 10th. Despite all the crap they are going through right now I think once the dust settles, it will be a good thing. Hugs to you and Dave.

  4. Timothy Selleck says:

    Dear “Ledfutt”,
    I used to think I would be dealing with my parents at a very old age, but it didn’t work that way. 84 is pretty old and that’s what my dad was when he died after dealing with Alzheimer’s for years. My mother died at age 78 from a very aggressive type of cancer. Neither of them smoked or had more than a few drinks of alcohol beverages per year. They ate a good assortment of food and had sufficient exercise. Used to think they’d both live to be well over 90. I guess what I’m trying to say is this: appreciate your parents while they’re still here. I know you do even though they can be difficult at times. Imagine what it will be like when you are told that you can’t live there anymore and have to go someplace else. I am sure I will be a real pain in the butt!! I try to remember to find some enjoyment in every day no matter how lousy it can seem. Anyway, enjoyed the account of your trip. Thanks for letting me blab! 🙂
    Tim

    • Tim, today is moving day for my parents. By Saturday they will be situated in their new place and I’m confident it will be a good thing. I know it will make their daily life so much easier and it will be much easier for my sister to check in on them. I’m planning to make another trip back to see them after the first of the year. I feel very fortunate to still have them in my life. Thanks for reading!

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