Sad transitions

We lounged on the patio in my in-law’s backyard in early March. It was almost 80 degrees. A bluebird fluttered on the branch of a nearby magnolia tree and cardinals sang their sweet song in the fig tree. An hour earlier deer pranced nervously on the red Georgia clay.

It was beautiful. Blue sky, red earth, blossoming spring daffodils.

Yet our spirits felt heavy.

We traveled to Georgia again (see the post about our recent visit in December) to help Barry’s parents. This time it proved much more stressful. His dad had fallen and was hospitalized; his mom needed immediate placement in assisted living. Both parents required extensive care and it took Barry, his brother and both spouses to navigate through the days.

We basically slid out of the Upper Peninsula in late February after a 24 inch, two-day snowstorm.

We plowed our driveway, shoveled and raked deep snow off the roofs Monday and Tuesday before we could leave on Wednesday morning. The snowy roads were challenging and we almost slid through two intersections on our 90 mile drive to the airport. A woman there said her husband glided through a stop sign in front of a policeman. The law wagged his finger at them, but let them proceed.

Upon airport arrival we discovered zero parking spots. None. Unless you wanted to dig out a spot in the snow. We have wisely learned to carry our shovel on winter trips to the airport, so guess what? Barry shoveled. I snapped a photo from within the car. Sorry it’s not much of a photo. I didn’t want to wade through the snow in my sneakers and document the indignity.

We spent almost two weeks in sunny beautiful spring-like Georgia. It was really challenging, except for shining moments of momentary peace such as when I took a stroll through the neighborhood. The above photo is of a tiny nearby pond that always intrigues.

I also loved the way the long shadows crept across the road. There’s juxtaposition everywhere. Contrasts everywhere in this world. Dark and light play with one another. Babies birth and elders falter and die.

It’s sad when it’s time to say goodbye to our precious elders.

Within those two weeks Barry’s dad received a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer spread to his bones. We found a wonderful assisted living place for his mom. We wrangled with banks, utilities, power of attorney, you name it.

I could type on and on and on about what we’ve all experienced, but many of you have confronted similar transitions with your loved ones. You know how hard this is. How painful and scary and sad. Yet within the amphitheater of challenging life there are still moments where a son and his mom can clown around and tease and even laugh.

We are so happy for that trip in December. We knew then that life was very tentative for them at age 89. We are just fortunate that events unfolded the way they did–it could have been much worse.

Barry’s mom’s spirits have brightened so much. Her smile reminded me of a daffodil in bloom. She doesn’t really know what’s happening with her husband of 64 years because of her advanced dementia. She lives moment-to-moment-to-moment, sometimes recognizing us and sometimes confused.

We returned home this week in the aftermath of an ice storm. From daffodils to an ice storm! Our electricity was out in the house when we returned, but came on within the hour. We had a chance to rev up our generator and make sure it still worked.

We’re still trying to help Barry’s brother and wife walk this journey from afar, but so grateful that they are nearby. It was so sad to say goodbye to his dad, knowing that was probably our last goodbye to a man we so love and who so loves us.

Mostly we’re just trying to regain our equanimity this week. These times of transition can be so hard.

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
This entry was posted in March 2022 and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

68 Responses to Sad transitions

  1. Oh, Kathy….words fail me. My heart goes out to you and to Barry. I’m so sorry!

  2. leelah saachi says:

    Bless you Kathy, this is hard work to go through – big hug from me – it RAINS in Norway now, and then it freezes and makes big slides everywhere -still, I have plenty of wood ( the electricity is too expensive to use electric heating here) so i cook everything on the ironcast oven

    • Kathy says:

      It has been hard, indeed, Leelah. So much unknown. I forgot that you use wood there, too. My goodness, things are getting so expensive everywhere. Hugs, my friend.

  3. Life is very hard sometimes…l miss having my mom and dad and aunts and uncles…you are traveling this path with grace….

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    • Kathy says:

      LouAnn, how kind. It is hard when the elders leave us and we miss their presence. We have been lucky to have three out of four parents with us this long.

  4. jodiczt says:

    What a journey, the contrasts in weather are so like the contrasts in life. Wishing peace for all involved and sending lots of love.🌷❄ 💕

  5. rehill56 says:

    🙏💕🤗

  6. Anna says:

    Yes, many of us know the challenges you are facing. Glad you are finding some peace, equanimity and love in them. That’s the goal, I believe.

    • Kathy says:

      Anna, when we reach a certain age we all have to go through this. In the moment, sometimes, it’s hard to find that equanimity–but there are many moments when it shines through. Thank you.

  7. dawnkinster says:

    Oh Kathy, please share with Barry how sad I am to hear of the change with his parents. It’s so difficult. I’m glad the two of you were able to go down and spend that time to get them resituated. Still, how heart wrenching to say goodbye. I can’t imagine that. Yet I can. I’m glad there’s some family down there too. Hard on everyone. Sending hugs…and good thoughts and prayers.

    • Kathy says:

      Gosh, Dawn, it was so hard to be down there. I read Barry your comment and he said thanks. We are lucky to be retired so we could fly down there and help. Barry’s brother has so much to do–including visiting the parents regularly–and it’s hard knowing we can’t be with him every step of the way.

  8. Dale says:

    Oh Kathy. Life is so harsh sometimes, isn’t it? So much is out of our control. I am so glad Barry and you got to go and see them again and help out as much as you can. Sending out good vibes, hugs and strength to get you all through the next bit.
    The change in weather is crazy, too. Eesh…

    • Kathy says:

      Dale, that’s the challenge, isn’t it? SO much is out of our control. Most times we tried to do something in relation to the parents we took one step forward and two steps backward. It’s also harder for us to drive and navigate in traffic since we’ve lived in a rural area all our life. But we did it, and can feel so many good vibes coming our way. Thank you. ❤

  9. debyemm says:

    Feeling deeply for you and Barry and all these times of every life entail and the weight that comes down upon families at such a time. HUGS.

    • Kathy says:

      It was quite rough, Deb, to have both parents “go down” at the same time. One parent would be hard enough. Feeling your love. Thank you.

  10. Robin says:

    Hugs and love to you and Barry. I know how hard this is, especially trying to help from a distance.

    • Kathy says:

      That’s the worst, Robin–wishing we could be much closer to help Barry’s brother. We can only help in small ways from here, it seems. Thank you so much for your love.

  11. Judi says:

    Along with so many others, I send my love and hold you and Barry and his parents in my heart. Not an easy trip you’re all making. Hugz

  12. Sandi White says:

    Kathy, my heart goes out to you and Barry. One day everything is normal, just moving along and the next your World is on it’s head, priorities change and all bets are off. I know that you will navigate through this heartbreaking rough patch, it just takes a lot of stamina and compassion. I’m so happy you got to enjoy our mini-Spring, we expect snow on Saturday morning. All 4 Seasons in one week. I will be praying for you, Barry and the family. God Bless you all, Sandi

    • Kathy says:

      Sandi, it is so nice to hear from you. It is such a rough heartbreaking time, and some days are more challenging than others. Last night was particularly hard. On a weather note–I can’t believe you are possibly getting snow. You are right about all four seasons in one week. Hope you are well…

  13. pam1955 says:

    Oh Kathy. Such a hard, yet tender time; especially difficult when you are so far away. Sending you strength and peace.

  14. Stacy says:

    I’m sorry that it is the winter of your in-laws’ lives. I hear the sorrow in your words, too. Barry is fortunate to have had many years with his parents, and a laugh with his mom amidst the transition. Blessings to you and to Barry and his family. XOXO

  15. Ally Bean says:

    I know this is difficult. My sympathy about the situation. You were lucky to have known these elders in their prime so even though they’re failing now, you’ve seen them at their best. That’s a blessing in its own way.

    • Kathy says:

      Ally Bean, that’s such a good point. We have seen them at their best. Barry’s mom was feisty, loving and such a good mother-in-law. His dad was so sweet and compassionate. It is a blessing to remember that.

  16. Susan D. Durham says:

    Beautifully expressed, my friend. Deep love and grace … for you, Barry, and the family.

    • Kathy says:

      Susan, thank you. It seems that everyday the news is different. One day, positive and hopeful (as much as can be) and the next day it’s grim. I know a lot of people have gone through this, but it’s sad…

  17. lisaspiral says:

    You have captured both the hard and the joy. Thinking of you and Barry. Glad you have each other as you work your way through these changes.

    • Kathy says:

      Lisa, thank you. And you are right about having each other. And so grateful to have Barry’s brother and his wife, too. Otherwise, it would be much more of a nightmare.

  18. wsquared says:

    Holding you and Barry and his parents in my heart, Kathy. Difficult times. ❤

  19. Val Boyko says:

    My heart goes out to you and the family Kathy. Thank you for sharing here. So glad you made the journey 💛🙏💛

    • Kathy says:

      Val, I appreciate you saying so. It felt so important to share this story, perhaps so others know we all go through these difficult times. Thank you.

  20. What a very sad but very beautiful and inspiring post too. Thank you and may God go with you all.

  21. Debbie says:

    Aw, gee, Kathy, I understand and empathize. It’s so hard when our parents get old and frail. It’s hard being the caregiver, but equally hard being the one who’s away and depending on siblings to provide what’s needed. Please know you’re in my thoughts and prayers. By the way, isn’t it awful having to make trips like this in the winter months? I’m glad you got to see a bit of Spring while you were away!

    • Kathy says:

      Debbie, thank you so much for your kindness and understanding. It sounds like you know what we’re going through. It is hard. And it IS awful to travel in winter months so often. Kind of makes a person grumbly, lol! It was nice to see spring, even though we returned to the depths of winter. The weather forecast says 30’s and 40’s coming this upcoming week and we’ll take it!

      • Debbie says:

        All of us have aging parents; besides, we watched while our parents had to tend to our grandparents. Some handle it better than others. It requires lots of grace and patience!

  22. Barb says:

    So sad to hear of Barry’s parents health issues. I’m glad you were able to make the trip and see for yourselves how they’re doing. I’m sure the visit was bittersweet. I’ve been hearing that the UP is buried in snow. Meanwhile, we’re having a lower than usual snow year. However, we did get 10″ a couple days ago and this AM it was minus 8. Sending you hugs from CO.

    • Kathy says:

      Thank you for your Colorado hugs, Barb. By the way, my brother has been out there skiing in your neck of the woods this week. It was great that we could get down to Georgia to help out, but it sure is hard being so far away. Sorry to hear about your lower-than-normal snow year. We have quite a bit on the ground. The ice storm messed up our trails and–boy!–is it hard to walk. I emptied the ashes and compost and had to CRAWL out the other day. (Shaking head…) 🙂

  23. Sending you and Barry love and sympathy as you navigate these sad transitions with your loved ones. Saying good-bye is never easy and the paperwork involved adds so much to the burden. Wishing you well as you recover your equanimity. *hugs*

    • Kathy says:

      Barbara, it seems we keep getting and losing our equanimity depending on the reports from Barry’s brother. Hopefully, everything will settle down soon. Thank you for your kindness and blessing. xoxo

  24. candidkay says:

    I’m so sorry, Kathy. It’s grappling not just with the day to day details that can overwhelm but doing it while processing the bigger picture–that our time here is limited. Sending good thoughts and prayers to the whole family . . .

    • Kathy says:

      Yes, it’s those everyday details which can be so challenging. I like how you put it, though–processing the bigger picture–that work is so important. Thank you so much for your care. ❤

  25. Elisa says:

    Thank you so much for sharing.

  26. Tilly travel says:

    Words never seem enough at times like these, just know that we are sending love and strength to you all.
    Bright Blessings

  27. Alanna says:

    I loved how you could still find the beauty of life around you in Georgia you were dealing with such a hard situation. Best to you both!

  28. My thoughts are with you Kathy. I’m sorry to see in your last comment that you lost Barry’s father and I’m very sorry for your loss.

  29. Reggie says:

    Awww, dear Kathy… thinking of you… Just saw the update re Barry’s dad in the comments. Much, much love. My heart aches with you. Feel yourselves embraced lovingly and gently from afar.

  30. I Wilkerson says:

    I’m so sorry Kathy. I’ve been through similar and the emotional, physical and logistical effort is overwhelming. And so sorry for the more recent loss of your father-in-law. Hugs to you both.

    • Kathy says:

      Inger, it is so nice to see your comment. Thank you for your kind sympathy. I am sorry that you’ve experienced some of the same. It is so hard…

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