My husband sat at the computer for quite some time to figure out the glitch that refused to allow me to log on and do what I enjoy-writing! Yes, he received a big hug and a few kisses!
After living in Virginia Beach, VA for several years and loving it, my husband and I made the move to North Carolina to be closer to our eldest daughter and her family. She had our two grandchildren and our step granddaughter. Amazing how grand babies can change your life plans. Upon moving here, our youngest child (our son) married and welcomed a beautiful daughter to add to our family. Now, after moving to a “house” we feel at home in, I have finally taken some time to sit back and reflect on the past four years of our lives.
My husband, who had retired from teaching after 35 years, decided to return to the classroom. He is now educating 6th graders at the local middle school. After teaching elementary physical education, and being a basketball coach for over 30 years, he’s returned to his first love of teaching, history. As he puts it, “I’ll teach until they don’t want me anymore”. He loves what he does, and I am so thankful he’s doing something that his heart and soul is in as he’s impressing so many young minds.
As for me, I am reinventing myself-AGAIN!!! I am getting older, and I’d like to think I am getting better if not wiser with the years. Our three children are now adults. All three are married, the oldest and youngest have blessed us with grandchildren. Our middle daughter and her husband have been called to the mission field, opening doors that were leading not only themselves into unchartered waters, but prompting us to change the way we thought about service to others and to the one we serve. I have to be rather vague here as she and her husband reside in a “closed” country so I am not allowed to speak freely about them. To say we have gone through a major transition with this choice is putting it mildly!
We have not only had this challenge to deal with, but learning to be grandparents and step grandparents has given us much to discuss and ponder. I have gone from working full time, in a big city, to being unemployed in a very small, gossipy Southern town! Talk about ego adjustments! I make them on a daily basis.
In the past several years we have not only gone through our move from West Virginia to Virginia, and then to North Carolina, but we have been faced with learning how to deal with an aging parent who has dementia. My mother-in-law began “forgetting” things a few years ago, and we have been thrust into whole new relationship with her and find the roles have become reversed in many ways. Barry’s youngest brother lives in the same town as she, and has since moved her to a house beside him. Since Barry’s other brother lives in Virginia, the care of Mrs. Hill has fallen to his youngest brother. He not only has a family of his own, but has been in school studying subjects in the medical field. Talk about stressed! Dealing with all of this from a distance has been difficult for Barry and his brother in Virginia. What doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger!
I have found that I’ve had to come to terms with my thoughts and beliefs since having a daughter and son-in-law in the missions field has caused me to re-evaluate myself. What I hold dear and true has been challenged. This has been an ongoing yet very new experience for me. Each day is a new chapter in my life. Beliefs I did have, no longer work for me. They now have been replaced with news ones or beliefs that have been altered to fit who I now am. I thought getting older would be somewhat easy, not more difficult.
I am going to be one strong and smart woman by the time I exit this earth. If only there had been a class on growing up in high school. I doubt I would have passed with flying colors, but I know my curiosity would have been roused.
So, throw those questions at me. What’s the hardest part of dealing with someone you love and admire succumb to dementia? The hardest part is asking God “why” and not receiving an answer I feel holds the truth of dementia. Knowing that I better embrace today because tomorrow could very well be 1000% worse. Answering her questions for the umpteenth time, yet knowing nothing penetrated her thoughts well enough to put that question to rest. Knowing that there is no pill or exercise that can improve her quality of mental life, a mental life she is no longer aware of. These are the hardest issues I deal with. Going in to visit and being aware that she’s worse, and it’s not just a bad day, but the gradual decline that slaps us into reality.
Now, on dealing with missionary kids. I haven’t been called to live in a country that requires you to believe in a faith by law, not by choice. I have trouble talking to my daughter “in code” because having lived my entire life in a free country, I only know how to talk to others freely and openly. It’s hard to understand why she and my son in law would choose such a different life. It’s heart wrenching knowing she is half a world away from her Daddy and I and I can’t hold or touch her. It’s phone calls that a government listens in on, and not being able to celebrate birthdays or holidays with them. It’s stocking up on deodorant and toiletries instead of unique and unusual gifts that I am use to buying for them. It’s hard. Going to bed each night with a prayer she will be safe and come home to us where she will not be in constant danger..
Becoming a grandparent to those little ones that call me “Bella” and my husband “PaPa”. Working hard at treating my step grandaughter the same as my blood and kin grand kids. Working so hard to overcome the personality traits my step grand daughter has that reflect her birth mother and not our daughter. Trying to dig deep for the patience that I need for small children since it’s been so long since my own children have been “little”.
Treating each child like they are the most important child in the world, even though we are spreading ourselves, often times thinly, among 5 children. Listening to Santa lists that constantly change and attending ballet recitals that are on the level of a grade school child and not a professional level! Attempting to understand the different Lego characters and sitting through movies meant for ages 4-9, and not an adult! What a learning experience!
Constantly reminding myself how lucky I am to be married to my husband, the man that teetered on the edge of throwing away our relationship of 30+ years, and was involved with another woman and I still have to focus on forgiving. I wonder what is wrong with me and can we ever be the same? (This is another story!)
Yes, growing older is making me better, teaching me to reach new heights in all areas of my being. I am hoping and praying I am becoming wiser. I hope and pray I am becoming a better wife and parent and person in general.
Can I hear an “AMEN” on that????