Update on my Penguins (quite a lengthy piece – Part 1)

The last few poems I have written about have concerned my family.

My family, especially my parents have become part of your live’s in a distant way. The ups, the downs and in-betweens of their life, have to you, my readers in a small way become yours.

As you know Pop (my dad) is quite feeble. Somedays, thankfully, he can pull himself up off his chair, or walk to the front door unaided, but usually with the help of a walker. He has the new seat on the toilet that is like a chair, so that he does not call out to mum for aid to get up. He has the hospital pull-up post on his bed, so that he may get in and out of bed more easily and he has the rails and seat in the shower.

A recliner chair that also tilts forward helps him plant his feet on the ground and be in an almost standing position for him to get up.  A chair with arms, so that he can pull himself up after eating.

I didn’t think these days would come, not when I was young, not when I saw him play shuttle-cock with us, not when I saw him public speaking with a strong, confidant voice, not when I saw him dance with mum across the floor.

How our lives change ~ now I watch him struggle, his voice on days grow weak. Thankfully there are good days, where he jokes and laughs and says that he’s doing okay.

Mum as you know is slipping slowly. We took her to the Specialist last week (a Geriatrician) to be assessed for Dementia. My brother P and I walked in with her and sat down. It was a battle to get her there, the phone call I received the night before and the morning of was “I’m not going to see him – I don’t need to – you aren’t my doctor, they just want to get more money out of us”. One of those phone calls she got angry and hung up on me.

“Now why are you here” he asked warmly.
“Because they said I have to come”.
I told him – “This won’t be easy”. Mum was almost child-like in her responses.
When he asked “What is your birthday and how was your child-hood”.
She replied with the correct date, but then “What on earth do you want to know that for!”
Her stubborn pants were on.
My brother and I were asked to leave the room and fill out 2 pages of certain behavioural aspects now, compared to 10 years ago.
After we had finished we went back in and we had to say in front of mum, why we believe she should be there…. that was tough and the Doctor said to mum “Now don’t get angry with them, but I have to ask a few questions”.
We explained as tactfully as we could, our reasons.
He then ordered an MRI and to make a further appointment, once this had been done.
All the way home mum in the back seat kept saying “I don’t need this MRI – nothing is wrong with me”.
Yesterday I went round and asked her if I could tidy one of her grocery cupboards (pantry) she said “Yes, but I must see what you want to throw away”.
I agreed.
Pops said he has been trying to get her to tidy/sort it out for years.
“Mum the use by date on this is 2004 – can I throw?”
“What is it?”
“Mum it’s 2004”.
Much thought and pulling of faces.
“Ok I guess so…”
This went on for over an hour. Me asking, her refuting the dates and that they were still fit for human consumption.

Empty jars, herb/spice bottles, plastic containers…. “No I want to keep them”
It went on and on, she was getting angrier, all of these meant something to her..something she could hold on to..like her past.

We got through it without her grabbing Pops walking stick and threatening me with it, as she did the other week. This gentle, kind and warm woman – slowly becoming a different person… a different mum.

Times are a changing – the road won’t be concreted nor smooth, but a rocky path, we now wait till the MRI appointment.

If you got through all of this – thank you for reading.


50 thoughts on “Update on my Penguins (quite a lengthy piece – Part 1)

  1. How can anybody not read everything to the end. It’s just so sad to see a person changing against his will. And you and your brother must feel awful to see your mum just melting into another personality altogether…
    Stay strong, dearest.

  2. I guess that having to become our parents’ parent, or at least carer, is not an easy task, Jenny. You have described your difficulties with subtlety and love. Your mum is lucky to have you and your brother.

  3. I am crying because though I do not know how you are feeling I know how all this would make me feel. Right now if I added any more to what I have already said I would be labouring the point. I hope my poem Alzheimer’s Cruel Dance made sense to you. Please just carry on as you are , you are being brave and fair and doing the best fro your mum ………….. you can do no more. I am as ever here if needed. xx

  4. I can so relate to everything you are saying about your Mum’s behaviour. I have lost count of the number of times my Dad would refuse to go to appointments, acting like a petulant child. It got to a point where i would not tell him where we were going and just say we had somewhere to go. This seemed to placate him. In the end he became oblivious and just went along for the ride.

    I really feel for you having to go through this.

    • Hello Patrick and thank you for visiting, reading and your thoughts. I read all of your pieces yesterday about your dad and they brought me tears ~ your poetry in particular was amazing. I think we may have to do that regarding appointments, though at the time being (well as of Friday) she knows she is going to have an MRI. When it comes around to it, it maybe a different story..

      I shall look to you and others for guidance if you don’t mind, as I will have questions along the way in how to handle the situations.
      I shall also post your site on this now so that others may read your story about you, your family and your darling dad.

      Thank you once again, whole heartedly Patrick for being here.

  5. Thanks for sharing. So many are going through these times as you are I have a Mom who is still fairly young but too stubborn to do as her doctors request which adds stress to children like us. I will say a prayer for you and them XO

  6. Your frustration grows, love is there, it is strong, worry and frustration though are becoming strong feelings, and guilt too when you snap back. Sadness when you have to take outbursts that shock you. Calmness is the best weapon, tis a hard one, patience and understanding. Reason often will not work. Let love replace it all, as it shows, but calmness is often returned.

    *hugs so much* be strong please.

    • Calmness and patience though I thought I had it – or could have it, slips from my grasp at times, yes reasoning doesn’t seem to get me anywhere, though I was surprised when she said I could tidy the cupboard, even with a watchful eye. Luckily I was able to throw most of the empty bottles and old packets/tins away without her realising. Thank you for your hugs and your words as usual lovely. xxx

  7. I am so very sorry to hear of your Mom’s deteriorating mental capacity. It is a sad, sad, thing to see. As you know, we are seeing our beloved sister in law change as well and it is very hard for everyone involved. I will be thinking of you and your family as you embark on this next step in their journey. Hugs to you.

    • Hell Nelson, yes your SIL is also on this path – sometimes we just need to write and explain and in doing so, others can support and guide us what to do. I am thankful for my ‘readers’ and friends on WP who are showing me this, you being one – so I thank you for your thoughts and also your hugs.

  8. So glad you’re sharing your parents’ journey with us and I hope it helps you in some small way. It’s hard to see them slipping from us, but I know you are making it as painless for them as you possibly can. Also love the expression penguins, have heard parentals or rents before, but never penguins.

    • Thank you Jude – I do not wish to bore the pants of everyone – but it helps me and my journey may in turn help others somehow.. I am trying to make it as painless as I can ~ not an easy path for all of us. Glad you like Penguins – they waddle when they walk so it seemed only natural 🙂 xx

  9. Jen, my dear friend you are incredibly courageous facing this headlong and honest as you are. as i wrote in an earlier comment, i cannot imagine how this is affecting everyone , day to day, how difficult it is to assimilate the changes taking place. i hope in sharing there is some release, and please don’t forget to be as devoted to yourself as well.. sending you Love and Hugs jen.

    • Thank you my friend, for writing these beautiful words. Courageous = necessity I think, knowing this is what we do as their children. For the love, upbringing and support our parents showed us, we in turn do for them. I hope that what I write (as with Patricks father) that others may know they are not alone. Sharing is a release and I will try and take care of me in the process ~ they need me to be strong ~ I shall not falter. Thank you for your love and hugs ‘coods’ x

  10. I hope you’re getting all the help you can, Jen. Every agency possible involved to alleviate some of the workload. As much as you love your mum and dad and want to do all you can, you and your brother need to be able to continue for the long haul. So as many hands on deck as possible. Fight for all you can get. I don’t know how it works for you there but I know here I threatened all sorts if my mum didn’t get what she needed, and we needed, to be able to continue with health and sanity intact. Hugs. And prayers.x

    • Thank you Scottie ~ we had both Pop and mum ‘assessed’ (hate that word sounds like they are cattle) they are both only looked upon as low care and entitled to a low care package. The reason being as they are both mobile (even with walkers as an aid). Over here, high care is in demand as with most countries, our elderly are living longer and therefore more are requiring assistance in some form. So a certain amount of funding is available for care in the home, or aids, or social activities. I fight for them though, I am their ‘captain’ and they my ‘crew’ and I won’t let their ship go down without a battle! Thank you for your kindness xx

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