"It's Girdle in the Stretch!"

jan

"It's Girdle in the Stretch!"

jan
A famous line from Spike Jones' 1940 version of The William Tell Overture. That's me. I'm Girdle. And I am really in the home stretch now toward finishing up my caregiving journey with my mom.

My husband and I began more than 3 years ago, with my leaving Ohio and moving in with my mother in Florida, and his staying back in Ohio with our home, 4 cats, and job. In that time, my mom progressed from "merely funky" to "completely ditzy" and finally succumbed to Alzheimer's Disease last summer. Since then, I have been working with my sister to tie up her affairs.  We thought we had done all the homework for her estate, but had no idea how complicated an uncomplicated estate could be.  Her taxes are now filed, my job is over, and it's time to go home.

During those 3+years, my daughter, who lives in Florida, gave us an unexpected gift, a granddaughter. And now that I inherited my mother's estate, I am re-imagining the life I live, from the perspective of someone who actually HAS SOME MONEY. The tight, ungracious feeling in my chest, which has been my daily companion for most of my adult life, is gone. Training my natural instincts away from, "No, you can't, we can't" to "Yes, we can" is an incredible path. The damage from years of that limited, niggling, hopeless mindset has already been done to my daughters, now grown. I still have a chance to feel, be different for my granddaughter, my neighbors, my friends, my acquaintances.

When I say I'm finally returning to Ohio, the normal responses are, "Don't you want to stay here?", and "Aren't you going to miss your granddaughter?" That's about as helpful as people asking during caregiving, "Are you getting enough rest? Are you taking time for yourself?"

Well, of course, who wants to leave The Garden of Eden? Who wants to leave the playground? How can I possibly yield up adoring my granddaughter's face? I'd like to stay in my little apartment until I'm so old I die in my bed and my granddaughter gives my eulogy.

I love my sunlit perch on the world, watching neighbors come and go like Mrs. Kravitz in Bewitched. I love looking out from my tower like Queen Elizabeth gazing from the balcony upon her court. I love getting up at 4am and making coffee, knowing I'm not disturbing anybody. I love asking myself, "What do YOU want to do today?", and replying, "You don't have to go home if YOU don't want to." I love seeing my granddaughter grow.

But with my face set like flint, I'm embracing the road before me. It seems like yesterday I moved out of my mother's house and into this apartment, wrestling with all The Stuff. In a flash, I'm back to wrestling with The Stuff again, now deciding what to take home, mail home, pitch or store. In The Gospel According to Denise, "Every Worry Needs a Plan." Yesterday I met with the mover who brought my belongings here, and he will move much of the same belongings into long-term storage until I/we get back to Florida. Now that I have a plan, I can spend the remaining days here with eyes wide open and in focus.

If I do not let this time affect my inner being and outward expression, it would really be a shame. This post-caregiving adventure has been a divine gift. I don't know what paths are ahead of me; new opportunities for two 60-somethings in a 30-something marriage. It may be time for a tatoo. This was my Wrinkle in Time. No wonder I need a girdle.

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