I just found out my dad’s only sibling is moving into a nursing home; the very thing my uncle had been vehemently trying to avoid for over a year now. He’s a farmer by birth and by trade. And like me and many in our family, a man who looks at change with disdain. My uncle would have farmed every day of his life, if he had had the choice, but his wife’s unexpected illness convinced him he had to leave the fields and the big green machines to provide the care my aunt needed lest she be moved to a caregiving facility. Big change had come and took its place at the front of the table. Yet, my uncle persevered. He carried on as my aunt grew more ill, as the crops were planted and harvested by a new farmer, as his big brother, my father, never recovered from a fall. But eventually the tick tock of time threw out another change. Last year, Uncle’s 88 year-old bones quit being good stewards for his body. His stomach started rejecting his favorite foods. His mind started wandering father away. And his hope disappeared.
Every one of us will recognize a story like this. We’ve heard such a tale, lived it or witnessed as someone else went through it. But it won’t make our turn at this kind of change any bit easier.
I knew this day was coming, or if not this day, then something else painfully inevitable. Yet, I can’t accept the change as natural, normal or anything else of the sort. I’m screaming inside my mind while tears give my silent screams a voice. This is one of those times when I can both understand a change and yet do everything in my power to deny it’s happening. I’d like to be able to write down a list of the support strategies I use in times like this, but I don’t have a list of things I can do to ease the trauma. The only thing that helps me is my favorite obsessive interest- word play. Just as my special interest in the written word helps in times of stress, confusion or depression, it helps now. So I write and I read and I make up stories or rewrite memories of old times to keep my mind on things it can control. And I am calmed. Not healed, but calmed and that’s a feeling I can use to pull me through the inevitable change I hate so very much.