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An Aging Parent


Preface / Introduction Call me now for your FREE Internet marketing consultation. $100 value. Let an expert show you RIGHT NOW how to profit online every single day without leaving home. Call me — Tim Ricke — now, (417)693-6581, or contact me on Skype at tim.ricke1, LIVE 24/7/365. Your success guaranteed. I’m waiting for your call RIGHT NOW! This ebook contains three articles by Dr. Jeffrey Lant concerning his father and assisted living. This is something that I am facing with my Mother and Mother-In-Law and I have found these articles to be inspirational, I hope those of you facing the same do also.


Table of Contents 1. Thoughts on assisted living, aging, Dad, and guilt. 2. 'Don't laugh at my jokes too much'. Thoughts on senior nookie, assisted living, love after eighty, and unexpected bliss at the end of life. 3. '... before the darkness falls.' Thoughts on my father's last home, changing places and the pains that make us human.


An Aging Parent

Thoughts on assisted living, aging, Dad, and guilt. by Dr. Jeffrey Lant Author's program note. Here is the most important four-letter word in the entire English language: home. It conjures up and is connected to every element of the well-lived life: spouse, family, peace, comfort, security. Nothing can match its importance, nothing can duplicate its significance. Nothing is more powerful than our memories of home and their enduring pull, always tugging at our heart strings. Home and its rhythms, its well remembered aspects, its secrets, its traditions, its confidences, its ways so well known and carefully maintained... these have a power over us that never fails, never pales, never wavers, never diminishes, and are always clear, fresh, joyful, unforgettable, bittersweet, haunting, the sweetest memories of our entire life. This is an article on the moment that comes to each of us... when this home, our very special, irreplaceable place, must be given up because its proprietors can no longer maintain it, now needing particular care themselves. This is an article about a moment poignant, sad, dreadful, irrevocable. It is about the people who take this step first, our parents... then about their children, us, who will trod the difficult road, too, but not yet... and what they must do today, a day of emotional turmoil, distress, a day for which all preparation is inadequate. For this article I have selected the song "My Old Kentucky Home" (1852) by America's first great composer, Stephen Foster. It is one of the most wistful, longing songs of our country... and whenever one hears it one thinks, and tearful too, of one's own home, now gone, far away, never to be replaced, always to be remembered, the more so as the destination you are now going to can never be a home like the one left behind. Go now to any search engine. Find and play it at once. It is the perfect accompaniment to this article. The call. The call we all fear, cannot bear thinking about, but must think about -- comes the day our aging parents first consider assisted living, whether outwardly calm and willing, or fighting the hopeless battle to avoid this fate, roiled by turbulent emotions deep within, so clearly visible without. Assisted living. The words "assisted living" are two of the most frightening and disturbing in our language. It is easy to see why. Assisted living is mostly the province of the retired, the ill, the aging, geriatric survivors of better times. As such it is a venue to be put off and avoided whenever possible, for as long as possible; as much so as if each assisted living facility had posted at its front door this immemorial admonition from Dante's "Inferno": "Abandon all hope ye who enter here." Such institutions are perceived as the final way station before cosmic extinction; the place one enters unhappy, angry, misunderstood, and which one leaves dead; the place for the irremediably old, those who are past it, marginal, unconsidered, beyond the care and concern of anyone other than those paid to care and be concerned; lonely people of the Eleanor Rigby variety. All of life... Assisted living, with its implied inadequacies and dependence, is always and often indignantly compared to the joy of independent living, where you do what you want, when you want, with whom you want, in just the way you want; in other words the kind of living each of us desires, insists upon, and does everything possible to maintain. Assisted living, of course, is widely perceived as the antithesis of the desired independent living.

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Copyright Tim Ricke - 2012

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An Aging Parent But this is wrong. ALL living is assisted living. For unless you are rabidly antisocial and determined to remain that way, alone, isolated, happy and contented in your aloneness, you are assisted -- every single day -by people whose aim is to make you reasonably happy, reasonably content, and reasonably comfortable. Thus, in truth, when one moves from living regarded as independent to living regarded as assisted, one is evolving from one kind of care to another kind of care; one is tweaking circumstances the better to ensure the maximum continuation of your desired life style. One is not undergoing metamorphosis, but comparative and necessary improvement. Sadly, most people undergoing this process are unable to see this, or at least to state it to guilt-ridden relatives who are thus distressed by the painful thought that Aunt Martha is being cast off rather than moved to an appropriate level of care, concern, and consideration. Most assisted living facilities these days resemble college campuses or resorts; they know the grief, anger, recriminations and distress which new residents bring and work hard to create an atmosphere that is at once attractive, even beautiful; livable, practical, and serene, factors which soothe the guilt of those recommending assisted living to those near and dear but are often dismissed as inadequate or unimportant by those being recommended into the facility. Receiving the intelligence. Twice in my life, so far, have I been a participant to greater or lesser degree, in conversations surrounding the movement of one near and beloved to assisted living. The first such conversations involved my mother; the second set involved my father. These conversations could hardly have been less similar -- or more instructive about the principals involved and affected. My mother, student of Dylan Thomas that she was, did not, nor could not, go gentle into this good night. She raged, raged against what she was sure was the dying of the light. Despite weakening health and the myriad of problems stemming therefrom my mother fought hard, strenuously, vociferously, painfully against the notion of "incarceration" in an assisted living facility, thereby branded as penal institution, not comfortable necessity. Her transition from living deemed independent to living deemed assisted was therefore protracted, painful, packed with imprecations, denigrations, accusations, maledictions which made Emile Zola's famous declaration "J'accuse" look sniveling. My father handled the matter entirely different... and I suspect this was partly because he will have with him his wife Ellie; to be alone at life's end is painful; to be partnered with a loved mate lessons the pain while increasing the means to combat and to live with it. Sad, wistful, practical, accepting. When my father called yesterday to inform me that he and Ellie had made arrangements to share their dwindling, most precious days together in assisted living, I felt a lump in my throat. He extolled the grounds, their private apartment, the food, the friendly residents... but whether he believed all this as stated or was just trying out what would become the stock reason or their move, I cannot say... for I was reflecting on a few words that he had said. Entering the dining room where they would find their daily meals, he was surprised to find it peopled with the old, feeble, and infirm. Could this be he at 86, Ellie at 87? Or had some mistake occurred? She, knowing how difficult it had to be for him to transform his independent life to one "assisted", took his hand and reassured him that no mistake was made; they were in the right place, which he would soon know, if he did not know already. And thus these proud, fiercely independent souls, more used to assisting others than being assisted, move into the next phase of their lives, together, facts faced, practical decisions made, gently, calmly, with love and care. And I admired http://www.BizBuildersCommunity.com

Copyright Tim Ricke - 2012

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An Aging Parent my father so, not merely as son to father, but as man to man. For he faced the difficult, the fearful, the unpalatable, with grace, quietude, reserve, with good judgement, good humor, and a good wife, well stocked and ready for the journey ahead... which they will travel similarly and with kindness, above all with kindless and the help of those glad to assist them, and with kindness too. ** We invite you to post your comments to this article.

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Copyright Tim Ricke - 2012

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An Aging Parent

'Don't laugh at my jokes too much'. Thoughts on senior nookie, assisted living, love after eighty, and unexpected bliss at the end of life. by Dr. Jeffrey Lant Author's program note: Suddenly, I burst into a song that made us both laugh. In my croaky voice celebrated worldwide for its almost incredible ability to hit every single note wrong, there I was positively warbling one of the most beautiful tunes ever written, "Don't throw bouquets at me/ Don't please my folks too much/ Don't laugh at my jokes too much/ People will say we're in love!" And then, as unexpected as I had been when I lurched into song, he responded in kind: "Don't sigh and gaze at me/ Your sighs are so like mine/ Your eyes mustn't glow like mine/ People will say we're in love!" It was my father. It was a recent Saturday during one of our regular "tour d'horizon" briefings on the state of the known world and the current disposition of all its inhabitants. He was relating the latest installment of "love among the ruins," the latest red-hot gossip from what he will call "the institution", the assisted living facility where he and my step-mother Miss Ellie now reside. And, as usual, nothing, absolutely nothing, was lost in the telling of this sizzling soap opera, an opus with more twists, turns and unexpected strands than "Desperate Housewives." Today's "Extra! Extra! Hear all about it!" installment was the latest in the continuing saga of two pillars of the senior establishment, Mrs. Winterbotham, a slip of a lass at 88, and her "sweet boy" Ronnie, lithe and plausible at 90. Before continuing, I feel duty bound to tell you what follows is sensual to a degree, a matter of grand passion, skullduggery, labyrinthine conspiracies, and frequent naps and bathroom breaks by all concerned as well as gossip, at once malicious, envying, poignant, unrelenting, and always worth the telling. But before that happens, you must re-hear "People Will Say We're In Love" (for I suspect you already know and cherish it as I do). You'll find this loveliest of love songs in any search engine. It was written in 1943 by Oscar Hammerstein II and composed by Richard Rodgers for the first modern musical that ever was, "Oklahoma!" Go listen now. It'll make you feel very young and hopeful all over again... and that is the point of this story... and the song. What my father told me. My regular phone conversation had to be postponed a bit because, as he told me, he and Miss Ellie had a very special and delicate mission to undertake; he was sure I'd understand the necessity to reschedule. I murmured concurrence, and they went out to gather the latest amatory intelligence from their dear friend Amanda Winterbotham, there to dispense unstinting empathy, understanding, and the wisdom that we are all supposed to get when aging, but mostly never do. We muddle. We age. We muddle some more. We die. Most annoying. That is why as we age we need good friends more than ever... because we didn't learn quite as much along the way as we need or as we over confidently thought we had. This is why all known languages feature such pungent expressions as these: "There's no fool like an old fool." "A man growing old is a child again." (Sophocles). "Age is a high price to pay for maturity." (Tom Stoppard). And... but you get the drift... These are the facts. http://www.BizBuildersCommunity.com

Copyright Tim Ricke - 2012

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An Aging Parent Amanda Winterbotham is a woman of education, sense, solid principles, her own teeth and a nice little nest egg in rock-solid securities which proved their true worth by not collapsing in the recent economic melt-down. She also bakes often and lavishly and has the ability to tempt compliments out of even the most jaded and pernickety of world-weary epicureans. She is also a woman and therein lies the rub... for such a woman, for all that she's barely on the sunny side of 90, still likes a kiss and a cuddle, though she feels embarrassed at her age to own up to it. Why should she? After all, her well-heeled, utterly respectable parents, Top Drawer, (for she is a Winterbotham of the Oyster Bay Winterbothams) christened her "Amanda". This as every student of the Latin language knows means "She who must be loved". The tense, I remind you, is the hortatory imperative. Make a note of it. I put it to you: what chance did she have with dapper Ronnie near at hand and desirable, a hunk at 140 pounds dripping wet, with a penchant for the grape and an eye for the ladies. So long as she is the lady in question and her "sweet boy" means every sweet thing he has said to her Amanda is satisfied. Basta. On this basis, Ronnie and his walker are regularly seen en route to Amanda's nicely appointed apartment, ensconced in that apartment (with the once ever open door now often closed), or exiting from that apartment at all hours, a crumb of blueberry scone on his lips -- and a smile. There this tale should have ended, two people hitherto facing each new dawn as listlessly as the last -- now enraptured with each other, engrossed, glad to be alive. Yes, it should have ended there... but it most assuredly did not. "People will say we're in love." People talk. That's what we do. We talk when we're happy. We talk when we're sad. We talk when we're lonely. We talk when we're not. We spend most every waking moment thinking about what we have just been told... talking... or contemplating the very next thing we intend to say and the undeniably fortunate individual to whom we intend to say it. Talking is our metier... and each and every day we pursue it... especially when we have a piece of glorious intelligence we just cannot bear to keep to ourselves. No, it must be told... and told at once. Nowhere is this more true than in the senior residences we call "assisted living" where there is ample time, hawk-like vision, and a desire to know all... and tell all. Gossip is omnipresent, unending, told with aplomb, laced with wit, shrewdness, exquisite malice and diabolical humor. This was the price for Ronnie and the pleasure of his company. Was Amanda, dear Amanda, prepared to pay it? Dear Amanda was bewitched, bothered and bewildered by... her children (who gave long looks of despair while bleating endless variations of "Mama, at your age!"). By... old friends who knew her late husband. They reminded her that Queen Victoria always remained true to Prince Albert... why couldn't she do as much? The serving staff (composed of young people distinguished by tattoos and ear rings) weighed in and said "Go for it!") But the minister who came with a message of brotherhood, redemption and the necessity to tithe gave her stern looks and sterner admonitions to stay chaste for Jehovah. What had begun as an affaire of the heart was now a burgeoning scandal. And so she asked my father and Miss Ellie to come for some of her delectable short bread (the secret was a drop of fine sherry in the dough) and advice. Clarity amidst cacophony. My father at his best. My father for close to 90 years has been known as a sympathetic friend, a ready ear, discrete, a man of strong views but greater empathy; above all fair, someone who would tell you the truth as he understood it without lording over you, making you feel inadequate, weak, a fool. As such Amanda Winterbotham wanted his opinion... and Miss Ellie wanted him to give it. Why? http://www.BizBuildersCommunity.com

Copyright Tim Ricke - 2012

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An Aging Parent First for the sake of helping dear Amanda, who was by now severely stressed and embarrassed by a very private matter now anything but. But perhaps more for my father's sake. How's that? Because since moving into assisted living just a few months ago, my father has felt disoriented, depressed, despondent, regarding this residence not as a home but a holding tank for the Grim Reaper... He was in dismay, unhappy, burdened by thoughts of an eternity too fast coming, way too fast... a man who had spent his life helping others was now too focused on himself. Did Miss Ellie, perhaps, whisper a timely word in Miss Amanda's ear? If so, I shouldn't be surprised for women throughout the ages have known just what to do in such situations. This is why I can see so clearly in my mind's eye my father and Miss Ellie, proceeding slowly down the hall, stately, each with a cane and consummate dignity. Amanda's door was open... Ellie entered first. Was there at that moment a special look that passed between the ladies? I cannot say... but my father later told me it felt good to be helpful again... and how did Mrs. Winterbotham know chocolate chip cookies with extra chocolate chips were his favorite? How indeed... But I could imagine Miss Ellie singing... "Don't take my arm too much/Don't keep your hand in mind/ Your hand feels so grand in mine/ People will say we're in love./ And so they are and do not care who knows...

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Copyright Tim Ricke - 2012

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An Aging Parent

'... before the darkness falls.' Thoughts on my father's last home, changing places and the pains that make us human. by Dr. Jeffrey Lant Author's program note. It is 3:07 a.m. here in the East. It is not so much that I cannot sleep. Rather, it's that I don't want to. I am thinking about my father as I often do. He is undoubtedly asleep now, has gotten safely through another day and will awake in due course to the promise of another. In other words, he is being well taken care of, and I don't need to worry, the Number One Son in Massachusetts; he in California. But I do worry... "Jeffrey, let me ask you..." He called me the other day, with that note of concern I've come to know and which bites me so. "Jeffrey let me ask you..." and so it started. Another chip to the father-son relationship which defined and guided us for so many years, now as ancient as the hills. Things between us, once well defined and wary, are changing now; changing, changing... we neither of us like it, but the realities of living always pulverize our mere wishes... and because we are living, we must still live, no matter how painful that may be. And it often is... He asks. "Jeffrey, you've never had a house have you?" "No, Dad, I never did." "You've always lived in an apartment, haven't you?" "Yes, Dad, I have." "You like it, don't you?" "Yes, Dad, I do." "Why's that?" "Well, for openers I don't have to take out the garbage... or plant the flowers... or paint the fence... " And the list goes on. "You used to hate doing those things, didn't you?" "Yes, Dad, every minute, every single one. I wanted to read. You wanted me to wash the windows." There is more than a little bit of asperity, accusation and unresolved irritation in my voice. I am 65, it all happened a half century ago and more; it shouldn't matter, but it does. Memory makes the long ago the active and unresolved, still on my agenda of things compelling attention. I might wish it doesn't matter, but it does. "I do not plant or reap." Now the benefits of apartment living pour forth. I discover I am defending my choices, as children of any age feel compelled to do from time to time. To live the life I want takes teams of people taking care of me. I am used to this and rely on them to do the necessary. This is how the privileged classes of history have lived; it is how I always wanted to live; it is how I live; it is how I want him to live; it is how he should live in this his too fast dwindling of days. But he is of a different time and place, a time of self-reliance, where if you wanted warmth in winter, you chopped fire wood and so warmed yourself twice. I hated this work... and I hated all such things... things that obstructed the life I wanted; the life waiting for me, beckoning me, insinuating itself into every thought. "I am what you want, what you must have," and I couldn't wait to seize it. The myriad versions of chopping wood were important, but they were never imperative, like the dream that enthralled me. And thus there were problems and a battle that waxed and waned, but never stopped. However he is not criticizing, judging, he is seeking something perhaps only I can give: confirmation that he has done the right thing, for with assisted living, without responsibilities, comes http://www.BizBuildersCommunity.com

Copyright Tim Ricke - 2012

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An Aging Parent an avalanche of doubts, uncertainties, and the kinds of anxieties which force one to sit bolt upright in dead of night... and wonder... "Jeffrey, I don't like not having a home anymore." But he does have a home. It's in a wonderful facility that looks like a college campus or place on a golf course. He and Miss Ellie, his wife, did not rush their choice. They looked at the full range of possibilities, moved with due deliberation, not haste. Visited, revisited, discussed, revisited. There was no rush about it, though it was apparent to both a decision must be made and made while they were both entirely able to make it. He recalls each house he has ever owned. He is remembering now and my role is clear. I must hear what he says, completely... and I must pledge (though he doesn't say so) to remember. And so a chant begins; of houses built or bought; houses turned into homes and profits; a lifetime of patient acquisition and certain return. "I have always made money on every house we ever lived in." And he recites them now, not to brag, but so that he is sure I know and will remember. My memory is tenacious; he knows that, and so the litany begins... from 4906 Woodward Avenue, which he built with his own hands (and partly mine)... His eyes are closed now and as he recalls, he recites; my eyes are closed, too, and I am remembering with him... and these, his memories of being a good father, chary of his resources, patiently awaiting the results he foresaw and planned for, are clear, poignant, bittersweet. And triumphant. For he wants me to know, and to sear into my mind that he made money enough for his family, enough for himself and Miss Ellie so they would burden no one, and something for the next generation, too. He was proud, as he had the right to be; not arrogant. He knew what he was due... and knew that I would give it, full measure. We who had often engaged in combat and dispute fully understood each word now, each recollection, each and every nuance, delivered with sureness and finality... for on this subject there was nothing more to say... and we were both glad he had done so, so well, every word apt, every description complete and accurate. He was tired now. So was I. It is often said that as parents and children age they reverse roles. But this is not entirely true. Instead a situation infinitely more complex and difficult emerges; a situation where the parent may remain the parent as well as the child and where the child may be in an instant not just one but both, thereby dramatically increasing the possibilities for confusion; things clear to one, misunderstood by the other. It would be easier, far easier, if a simple role reversal took place, clear to each, but this is not the way it is for either party. And so, before the darkness falls, we need to learn, again who we are, who they are, what they need and must have, what we have that we may give and give still more. In short, we must at their end begin again, new roles to learn and urgent, too, for the darkness is nigh and there is much to learn and do before the end. Thus one of the most important, revealing and timely conversations of my life ended; we were weary and needed rest. The meeting, by phone, ended as easily as a sigh. We had done what needed to be done. But I had one more thing to do, one more thing to listen to, to ponder. Bruce Springsteen's 1982 evocation "My Father's House." And I went to a search engine to play it. I urge you to find it now... and ready yourself for a melody and lyrics which cut deep and place an unrelenting memory in you. ""Last night I dreamed that I was a child... I was trying to make it home... before the darkness falls I ran with my heart pounding down that broken path... I broke through the trees and there in the night My father's house stood shining hard and bright the branches and brambles tore my clothes and http://www.BizBuildersCommunity.com

Copyright Tim Ricke - 2012

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An Aging Parent scratched my arms But I ran till I fell shaking in his arms." Now I can do as much for him... and must.

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Copyright Tim Ricke - 2012

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An Aging Parent

Resource About the Author Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses. Services include home business training, affiliate marketing training, earn-at-home programs, traffic tools, advertising, webcasting, hosting, design, WordPress Blogs and more. Find out why Worldprofit is considered the # 1 online Home Business Training program by getting a free Associate Membership today. Republished with author's permission by Tim Ricke http://BizBuildersCommunity.com.

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An Aging Parent