Monday, April 8, 2013

2-A Walk in My Shoes - A blog for Baby Boomers

My best friend Nita worked for several of the major shoe companies during her career. She wore the same size shoes and clothes as my mother, so Mom often?benefited from Nita?s special employee purchases, mostly sporty styles. When Mom started getting rid of high heels, she thought of Nita first. They often exchanged shoes. Nita probably knew my mother better than I ever realized. Nita died four years ago-just days before she would have been eligible for Social Security. So she worked all of her life paying in and never collected. Yet another Baby Boomer lesson learned.

For many years before Nita died, she took care of her?mother. Bes was a sweet lady, never spoke loud, certainly never cursed, was God fearing and loved her daughter to the ?NTH? degree. But when dementia knocked on the door, a slightly different person came out. From our experiences, the person with dementia is somewhat of?an exaggerated version of the person she or he always was. In other words, add forgetful to the mix and you have the same shell of a person you knew years ago- but she or he is?carrying? an excess amount of whatever?baggage they had in their past.

On one of my long weekend trips to visit my friend and her mother back in the 90?s, I arrived at the house while Nita was at work. As I walked in, I heard the tea kettle whistling and I smelled something. Bes thought she was boiling water for her and me to have tea after I arrived. (Something she did when I visited from college 900 years ago.) However, this time there was no water in the teapot. Within a year?her mental health?deteriorated and Bes finally?moved to a nursing home.?It was a hard choice for Nita, but it was the best choice to make for Bes? guaranteed safety. Nita visited the nursing home twice a day, every day. Would I be able to walk in her shoes if I had to? I vowed to try hard because we both always believed you give what you got and you get what you gave?.in life.

Before Nita passed on in 2009, she and I spent a couple of days going through her household items. She was under the impression the younger nieces and nephews in her family would be interested in the stuff she was hoarding like?doilies from her mother and grandmother and other relics of the 60?s and 70?s. It wasn?t hard for me, as a friend, to convince her to discard things like excess flower vases. That, however, may not be?as easy?with parents. It isn?t easy with my mother. Mom is still holding on to two throw pillows that are velour.

After spending two weeks with my?mother recently, we were so over stuff that we came home and immediately gathered up some items of our own to donate.?Then I talked to one friend who can?t park in her garage because she?s storing her mother?s ?things??there. Her Mom passed at least a year ago. I hang up from her and go straight to the garage to find more stuff to give away. The worst is the story I heard about the parent who had so much stuff, it took siblings nearly two years to finish fighting over?belongings. So they incurred excess?expense in order to keep fighting, probably over things like cups and saucers. BRILLIANT!

My Mother still has all of?those fabulous?high heels, even though she doesn?t wear them anymore.?She has accused an imaginary strange woman of coming in and borrowing her shoes in the middle of the night.?She also insisted?one sporty pair were mine, when actually they were sent to her years ago?by my late friend. Mom indirectly associated the shoes with?Nita by connecting them to me, but she?was confused about the actual situation. We?ve stopped making suggestions about how she can benefit from letting some high heels go. They actually are beautiful enough to stare at them.?She says I just want to wear them. (Yeah, like Cinderella?s sisters tried to shrink their gunboat feet so they could get into her dainty shoes-%^*Y&*$-%@). I?ve tried to spiritually?walk in Mom?s shoes my whole life. I know I?ve tried to walk in Nita?s shoes, but I?ve?finally realized?I can only walk in my own shoes.

We learn something new everyday. Some pretty important learning experiences on Monday, April 15th, Tax Day.

by Dianne Thompson Stanciel ? comments welcome at ?








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