People From Your Past

My daughter told me yesterday that their dad’s case manager says he will probably have to be moved to assisted living once he leaves rehab.

She and Kendra were told that independent living options were probably off the table. Kasi said he couldn’t stand on his own.

Well, heavens, he just had a hip replacement a few days ago. I don’t imagine he’d be quite ready to stand on his own yet.

Kasi wrote back: “Well, that’s probably true.”

I know my girls want what is best for their dad.

And it behooves me to understand why this means so much to me. As I mentioned before, I haven’t been in contact with the man in probably 20 years.

We’re talking about a man who has a Ph.D and taught psychology, but didn’t like the idea of antidepressants.

I’ve never quite understood that. His 19 year old grandson has recently been put on antidepressants and we think it has quite literally saved his life.

My ex-husband is stubborn about these drugs for some reason I’ve never quite figured out. And yet he is also the most depressed person I’ve ever known.

Searching For Local Facilities:

So here I am looking for places that could care for him in as independent a way as possible. And I don’t know why.

Many of these places I looked up this morning have the philosophy of “aging in place,” which has become very popular.

He’s probably going to be negative about any options, I imagine, as I was once married to the man.

I don’t know his prognosis. So I might just be jumping through hoops that aren’t going to be there to jump through.

I have no idea at all how much time we’re talking about. Whether it’s months or years. He just turned 78, and that’s 13 years older than I am.

Or maybe it’s that this preoccupation distracts me from my own current condition.

Now both my girls’ parents are having mobility problems. A sad fact, this unusual parallel.

Their dad fought and fought moving at all when my daughters tried to get him moved here a few years ago. He was living alone, but he’d become quite thin and frail, according to Kendra.

He seems to have already lost the battle of moving from his home town. Because he is now in a rehab facility here.

I think he still has one old friend there who he went to lunch with weekly. He’ll likely lose that, at least on a regular basis. His only brother, who is five years younger, lives there too.

Disruption Of A Senior’s Whole Life:

His life is going to be disrupted in every way. He will lose his house he’s had for years. The one his wife with severe MS died in a few years ago.

He’s never lived anywhere but Norman, Oklahoma, so he’s ground in there like a mole burrowed down in the earth.

Did you know that moles can dig through loosened soil extremely quickly. They can clear as much as 18 feet in an hour and add up to 150 feet of new tunnels under your lawn each and every day. They don’t take vacations or time off, either.

I know this because everything I write about, and in this case it was moles, I then feel compelled to look up.

Anyway, I just sent Kasi a list of the most highly rated independent and assisted living facilities in Tulsa.

She’ll probably wonder why I’m butting in.

Hell, I wonder why I’m butting in.

It’s not like we had a happy marriage, Gary and I. In fact it was mostly downright miserable.

But then, I seem to be averse to happy marriages. A fact I’m well aware of.

When One Is Faced Assisted Living:

I can just imagine what Gary’s thinking. Being forced to leave the town where he’s lived his whole life. Forced to give up his house.

His own mother has been dead for 17 years. I drove many miles as quickly as I could to get to Norman before she died. They’d phoned me and said I’d better hurry.

As I drove, I thought about what she’d said to me on the phone before she became so sick.

She said: “Brenda, I’m going to take care of Pepper for you.”

My sweet dog Pepper had just died in those last weeks and I was beside myself with grief over the loss.

It seemed I was facing yet another loss.

Once I got to her house, I climbed up into her hospice bed and held her till she took her last breath.

Those horrible deep wheezing breaths were hard to listen to. She was gasping and could no longer speak.

All I could do was hold her and tell her that I loved her. That she’d been a wonderful grandmother to my girls.

I’d been divorced from her son for 21 years. But she and I had become close over the last decade.

This was going on while her sons and their wives were chatting in the kitchen.

They weren’t in the room when she died. And I was quite angry about this, though I never said anything.

How could they let her die without being by her side when she was obviously suffering so much?

No Known Family Of Origin:

Maybe all this is because I never really had a family of origin. At least one that I knew.

I don’t even know if my own mother is dead or alive.

The only way I can explain all this is that this man is my children’s father.

And that kind of means we’re bound together for life. Even though they were both born well over 40 years ago.

I just hope the best for him, wherever he ends up.


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  1. Maybe if he were local you could find a way to be kindred parents to your girls? I can’t imagine, but you are so perspective and thoughtful. Would you be able to visit, converse…did you share commonalities while married? Must have been ok in the beginning? You are such a good writer, I see a novel, fictionalized version of your lives where you become … not friends, but tolerant interested people. My mind is being impractical. 😍🥰

  2. Brenda you are kind and compassionate and that is what this world lacks the most right now. Please stay that way always. You have a past w this person good or bad, and you are helping your daughters navigate a senior health/medical system which is beyond complicated these days. No other explanations are needed and I believe that your kindness will be gratefully accepted.

  3. my mother-in-law had hip replacement at 78 years old and did very well. she spent two weeks in rehab and then went home. but she did have her husband and other family next door. I hope your ex does well.

  4. “We’re talking about a man who has a Ph.D and taught psychology, but didn’t like the idea of antidepressants.”

    I don’t understand this thinking either, although I’ve encountered it a lot from people when I was open about my own personal struggles. People used to make the most demeaning comments. I suffered very serious clinical depression and antidepressants helped me along with talk therapy. I think it literally saved my life as well. I especially don’t understand this type of thinking from someone who taught psychology who didn’t like the idea of meds.

    “My ex-husband is stubborn about these drugs for some reason I’ve never quite figured out. And yet he is also the most depressed person I’ve ever known.”

    My mother is/was the same kind of stubborn. She suffered from depression–I think most of my life, although she would deny it and demonstrated little empathy towards my own struggles. She refused to seek help or even consider it and it unfortunately turned into a full blown psychosis. I had no idea that could happen with depression, but in her case it did. I did everything that I could to try to help her. It’s an emotionally painful experience to talk about as I basically lost my mother to mental illness.

  5. I would not be surprised to hear you have feelings with all that is going on. You had your two beautiful daughters together so that will be something you will. always have from each other.
    I hope if he does go into assisted living they can find a good place for him close to them so they can check in on him.

  6. Brenda, you have such a large and giving heart. It’s a pleasure to “know” you, dear lady! Don’t ever change!
    It never occurred to me that we are forever connected to our children’s other parent, whether we like it or not.
    Enjoy your Friday, Brenda!

  7. You will always be connected to your children’s father emotionally.
    Medications for people with learning disorders has changed. Psychologist can not prescribe them. Psychiatrists can.

    1. Which I suppose is why this is so important to me. And they might be making a decision about me someday, so I want to see how they handle this!

  8. What a kind thing you did, Brenda…holding your former mil while she died. Beyond any expectation. You know, aren’t you mostly doing research FOR your daughters, to help them in helping him?? That looks like you are just trying to help make this decision less problemic for your daughters. And we often do kindnesses for total strangers. It is a good thing to do.

    1. I guess you’re right about trying to help my daughters. Also, being older and not really mobile myself, I’m trying to put myself in his shoes. And my daughters are healthy and I don’t know that they can process where his mind his. Usually you go into assisted living, I would think, you never leave it.

    2. I have found my advise is more accepted when people ask for it. Once I read that older women in an Indian tribe who were accepted by the braves waited until they were asked to give opinions.
      It is difficult for me now that I am older and have had more experiences to share.

      1. I know this is true. But this decision was too important to me to stay out of. I want them to have looked at all the angles and truly make the right decision. And I’m sure they will.

  9. Don’t post this but just a heads up. One of the ads that Is on your blog is for sex toys and lubes. It’s a company called “ Adam and Eve” I doubt that is the kind of ad you want on your blog! Lol

    Best wishes

    1. I’ll get with the ad company right now. Nothing remotely like that is on the list of ads I approved a long time ago. Thanks for letting me know.

  10. Being near to someone who is vulnerable like your ex and also when your MIL passed is the sign of a generous person with a giving heart so Brenda don’t change or feel like you are butting in. There needs more kindness shown to those who are in unfortunate situations without judgement. We aren’t walking in their shoes to know what they endured in life just as many would not know what you experienced at an early age. I believe it makes you more understanding of older peoples needs growing up with grandparents. Thank you for sharing what your daughters are dealing with the next few weeks as most of us have been down this road trying to make someone move or go into a place that provides better care.

  11. Brenda, you are a sympathetic, empathetic person. You had two children with your ex-husband, and it’s natural to feel some empathy for someone you did share a monumental portion of your life with, resulting in two of your most cherished accomplishments on this earth. It doesn’t matter if it’s appreciated or reciprocated in any way – you are being authentically you.. a caring soul. Your daughters will appreciate that you were kind to their father regardless of past history. He will always be their father and that alone is enough reason. Wishing you all the best as you each navigate difficult waters.

    1. I just want to ensure that they are thinking this through for the greater good here. I don’t want them to take someone’s advice who doesn’t even know him and not explore all avenues of aging in place care. Aging in place would be what he would want. I just don’t know if it’s possible.

  12. I’m glad you are able to enjoy the comfort that your behavior at your MILs death bed brings you. I wonder if her sons have any remorse, but I doubt it. Heartless!

    1. I don’t know. I recall calling out to them once she passed. Because I didn’t leave that hospice bed until my daughters had arrived from Tulsa, 90 miles away. Because her youngest son was in a hurry to call and have them come take her to the funeral home. And I told him that was not happening until the girls arrived. I wanted them to see her in her home, the only home they’d ever known her to live in, and not the funeral home. So I laid there with her for several hours just so he couldn’t derail that.

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