A Simple Break

Meet Sister K.

Today Sister K and I met up for “lunch.” I say “lunch” because this consisted of meeting for TCBY yogurt and then walking down the street for a McDonalds iced tea. But regardless it lifted my spirits. It perked me up. It always does. I was making fun of her in her backpack with umbrella and water bottle. So I snapped a picture, using Sister K’s iPhone. My poor blackberry photo quality is limited.

A simple lunch break. A simple pleasure. Right now life is a little upside down. But we can meet for a moment and do something simple. Simple and cheap. Sitting on a bench. She asked if I’d talked to Dad. I asked if she’d talked to Mom. We compared notes. We seem to do a lot of this lately. We talk to each of our parents separately. Then we compare notes. We give each other updates. Did Mom sound happy? Did Dad sound overwhelmed? How did Mom say the doctor went? How did Dad say the doctor went?

I told her I called Dad this morning. I told her I had started calling him in the mornings to check on him on my way to work. Not really sure why, but I am wondering if it will become a habit. Sister K told me I am turning into our “family manager.” In some ways I feel like I am. I feel like all of our roles are changing a bit. I have noticed changes in Sister K, noticed changes in Dad, even noticed changes in Mom. There is a subtle and quiet evolution going on within the walls of our family. Each of us picking up new responsibilities, settling into shifted roles, figuring out how we can help, etc.

One new thing I started doing this week is trying to help Dad from far away. I know I can’t be there physically to help him with everything but it occurred to me I could make phone calls and help with little administrative tasks. I made a phone call about getting Mom’s doctor to request her medical records, I followed up on some airline flights, I got a question answered from our house title company, I even helped Sister K fill out her W-2 form for her new job so Dad didn’t have to worry about it. I think people may look at me like I am crazy or think my family is helpless. This is not the case at all. These things make me feel useful. They make me feel like I am doing something. Like I am helping in some way. If I can’t be there physically at least I can help take some things off Dad’s plate right now so he has less to worry about besides Mom. The moments I feel the most crazy in my mind are the moments when I feel absolutely helpless. I am learning the best way for me to deal with this is to feel useful- no matter how large or small the task may seem.

Do you struggle when you feel like there is nothing you can do to help in a situation? Do you ever assist your family in administrative tasks that may seem odd to others? Do you enjoy frozen yogurt as much as Sister K and me?

We’re Going To Hug Her

I called Sister K on my lunch break today.  We talked as I wandered the streets to get my mid-day iced tea from McDonald’s.  I’ll admit that I have one just about everyday.  I’ll also admit for $1.08 there are worse things I could be addicted to. 

I had called Mom first but she was rushing to eat lunch so Dad could pick her up and take her to rehab.  She mentioned her leg was in pain again.  She was frustrated and down. We didn’t talk much about it and got off the phone quickly.  So I called Sister K instead to inform her of this.  We talked about it for a minute and then Sister K sighed and in a silly way said, “What are we gonna do?”  And I paused for a minute and laughed to myself because there was such truth behind the question yet we both had no idea what the answer was.  I also realized in this instant I could begin to get sad and down.  I could begin to wallow in these circumstances.  How things keep coming up with Mom and she can’t shake this leg pain.  Instead though I caught myself.  I was focused on positive thoughts just as Sister K said “We’re gonna hug her.”  I couldn’t have said it better myself.  Yes. That is exactly what we are going to do.  Then I chimed in with my own list- we’re going to tell her we love her, we’re going to call her, we’re going to listen, we’re even going to surprise her on Sunday for Mother’s Day.  

We wish we could fix this but we can’t. Sometimes the pain is too great, the medicines are not working fast enough, the symptoms are beyond our comprehension and all we can do is hug Mom.  It’s those hugs that will say so much while at the same time saying nothing not all. 

So we’re going to hug her and we’re not going to stop.   

Have you ever thought about the power of a hug?  Do you ever hug someone when you don’t know what else to say? Do you love a good hug as much as I do?      

Finding Strength

I am 27, my sister is 25.  We are handling a situation with our Mom that most people our age will not handle for another 20 years or so.  When they do their parents will most likely already be grandparents.  Sister K and I barely know who we are as adults.  We are still trying to settle into being adults, still trying to deal with the life changes that occur in your 20s post college, still trying to figure out who we are and how to function in this world.  I have been married just about a year and a half and am still trying to figure out being married.  Sister K is working on her Masters degree and looking for jobs.  But we aren’t having a chance to completely process all of these changes in our lives.  There’s not a lot of time to deal with it or a lot of space in our minds.  Instead we are being handed the ultimate in responsibility people go through in life, caring for a sick parent.  We are watching Dad become a caregiver at a time when we thought we’d be watching our parents travel the world.  We are seeing changes in our parents’ lives, seeing changes in them as people and seeing the changes in ourselves. 

Sister K and I argue about the best approaches with Mom.  We defend different issues.  We take turns defending Mom, defending Dad, defending life, defending our approach.  We are trying to get on the same page, really any page we can figure out.  Most of the time we find a page, but we aren’t perfect.  We both still feel like kids.  In a sense we are.  I know we are 27 and 25 but we both feel like we are only 7 and 5.  Mom was supposed to be immortal.  If issues like this were going to arise we thought we had many years until they did.  We have been handed a circumstance that would shock most people if they knew everything.  But they don’t.  We deal with most of it on our own.  Together, but on our own. 

What have I learned in all of this?  Sister K is the greatest gift I was ever given.  The gift of not just any sister, but my sister gives me strength in all of this. There is no way I would survive this without Sister K.  I am aware of that everyday.  She is the only person in the world who truly gets what I am going through.  She understands every issue, every fear, every thought becuase it’s her Mom too. In moments where I look at who we have become and our relationship, I wonder if God has been preparing us for this moment our entire lives.