family, leadership, personal

Joint post from Rick and Joyce – Love Languages

Do you know your love language? If you haven’t heard of the five love languages, see here: http://www.5lovelanguages.com/ As I’ve discussed with my team at work, it is also a great way to talk about recognition and appreciation in the workplace (understanding that some modifications are needed, like “touch” takes on a different meaning).

We know ours. Joyce likes physical touch, followed by words of affirmation. She couldn’t find a category for “stare at me uncomfortably for several minutes while I smile and ham it up” so we will call that a form of touch…or it could be part of quality time, which is her third love language.

Rick’s is acts of service. If Joyce does a chore at home for me, I feel awesome. If someone at work goes above and beyond on a project, I celebrate that and have big thanks waiting for them. I also like gifts, something Joyce has adapted to – even surprising me (I’m very hard to surprise) with a framed picture of me and my Dad in advance of Father’s Day. She used to not even get me a card for holidays, so luckily I’ve apparently broken her of that by occasionally reminding her of my second love language.

Love languages can come in really handy. When Joyce goes too long without food, and starts to get “hangry” I know I can make her feel better by just holding her. Even though I might want do take out the trash because that would make ME feel better, that is the time to put the chores off for a few minutes and just hold and talk to Joyce.

Sometimes Rick gets too focused on tasks and getting things done, especially around the house (bad combination of anal retentive and OCD). Joyce can take immense weight off of him by chipping in and working on the chores with him. And it’s quality time together, which is Rick’s third love language. Words and touch aren’t his thing, but he is getting to like them more by engaging in those languages with Joyce.

Hopefully, you can improve relationships at home and in other areas of your life by exploring the five love languages.

family, personal

Three months

It’s been three months since my Dad passed away. I keep believing more and more what a saint he was. My Mom is really struggling, and is frankly hard to deal with – prefers being alone to being with people; hadn’t invested time in relationships with others so doesn’t really have a support system; is pretty stubborn. Which isn’t making it any easier to try to get her to move to Vegas and get the help she needs.

She doesn’t want anyone’s help normally, and she doesn’t think she needs any help now because her ailment isn’t outwardly physical. She probably wouldn’t want much help for a broken leg but would at least relent to a doctor’s care and an x-ray and a cast. Her brain isn’t telling her anything is wrong with itself (why would it) and she can’t remember that she can’t remember…

This has certainly given me the opportunity to self-reflect. It is funny (and not funny) seeing the traits I have that were passed down from her and reflecting on the traits were passed down from my Dad. I am not happy about this idea of not liking help, and I know I’ve suffered from it my whole life. “Letting go” and letting others do things and letting things just happen without being planned – these are not my comfortable places. But similar to some recent posts on leadership behaviors, I am encouraged by the fact that I’ve at least grown through my life; I don’t have to plan every trip anymore, I like surprise gifts, I rely on others to plan events that I used to do all by myself. Things like friends, Joyce, church all help calm me and give me perspective that is focused outwards.

Of course now I’m looking at someone who is going “backwards” in this phase of her life, and all I can seem to do is pray that doesn’t happen to me. My Dad seemed to get more sociable throughout his life, to the point where he was the glue in the neighborhood at the end. I’d like to experience that pattern, not the other way around. He was never the most willing to ask for help, but I saw him “let go” later in life, letting us and others do things for him.

Eventually, I’m going to need to figure out my Mom’s situation. I feel like I’ve not spent enough time mourning my Dad’s death in the last three months because I’ve used all that mental energy on trying to figure out my Mom. I’m hoping I can at least continue focusing on the good things about my Dad, as there were a lot. I want to learn from him: even though he’s not here to teach me anymore he has a lot of lessons to impart just from my memories.

I gave my mom the biggest hug ever this morning when I left to come home. It was more for me than her, she won’t remember it. But I was hoping to give her just a bit more energy and life, because you never know when things will turn around and that energy and life will come in handy. I read a great tweet the other day from Joel Osteen: “You may be facing situations that look like they’ll never change. You don’t see a way. Don’t worry. God has a way.”

family, personal

Dealing with (a parent with) dementia

Heavy sounding topic. Pretty heavy in reality too. As predicted, my dad was the easy-going person, and died in an easy-going way. My Mom is going to be the challenging one.

She started having some short-term memory loss a few months before my Dad died. I meant to ask him about it after they came to visit in February. I never got the chance. I know he knew, he was so helping and caring he just shielded her from the effects and everything was “fine.”

It’s gotten much worse quickly since he died. Her doctor gave her some pills for anxiety, and wanted to wait until her physical in July to evaluate further. He “figured” it was just due to the stress of the death and might get better. Nope. So I am pushing the issue with him and now he is going to start getting some tests done and refer her to a specialist.

Weird thing is, since she’s in good shape physically, and has not lost much of her “institutional” memory, she can get by in daily life. Not great mind you, but ok. I am reading up on “the conversation” – you know, about some form of assisted living – and a lot of the guidance I’ve seen presumes some long runway (plant seeds, keep planting seeds, see if something grows, wait until a small accident happens then use it to sell the idea). But I am worried I don’t have the luxury of time, and since I am across the country, I don’t get the consistency of interactions to properly “plant seeds” and such.

Besides, given the short term memory issue, every conversation I have with her is largely forgotten by the next one…

Not only do I not know much about trying to get your parent into the proper care, I don’t even know much about brain disease and dementia and Alzheimer’s and related issues. I might have titled my blog incorrectly, maybe she has something other than dementia. More studying to do.

The other thing that I have noticed is my own self-awareness of mortality and memory, given what my two parents have gone through lately. I am thinking more about ensuring I maximize time now, given that I’m well over halfway through my life if I were to pass when my Dad did. I’m reflecting more on my own memory – its fine to say that I need to write things down so I don’t forget them – there is a natural process in there somewhere. But the time to take care of your brain is now, not later. So I am going to investigate ways I can bolster my own brain. In looking some things up for Mom I noted how eating the right foods can help, and I actually do ok on that one without even knowing it.

I feel so bad for my Mom, sometimes her mind gets totally clear and she realizes something is not right, other times she’s embarrassed by what she has forgotten. Other times it is just frustrating to see someone you love be so lost, like imagining her husband is still alive and then having to go through the loss all over again when she realizes she forgot.

I hope others are having more success than me – it’s early in the process so I am hoping I can find some small wins to indicate I’m heading the right direction. This seems like a long, difficult road. For my mom, it’s a road I will follow until it ends.

Finally, my brother recently gave me some great encouragement, and it reminded me that in situations like these, once again you are not alone and should rely on the support of others.