Moose Hunting

This morning I had to stop by a farm to check on some possible work. As I was waiting for the hubby to finish doing chores,  I asked his wife if her mom was still living with them?

She teared up instantly.

The words just tumbled out…

Up until now we’ve had a bath aid coming in two to three times a week, but starting next week, I asked for help every day.   I just can’t do it any more…”

I listened. …and the words kept coming….

“I promised her I would never put her in a nursing home..but….but you have no idea how hard it has been.”

“How is your mom mentally?”  I asked…

“Ever since her stroke, she’s gotten worse.  Right now, she probably has the mind of a 5th grader…..

She’s lived with us  seven and one half years…..”

I (DM) remembered when her mom  first moved in.  I assumed she was still with them, but you never know. Her mom reminded me of my mom, the first time I met her….about the same age, body build, both have a twinkle in their eye.   I sensed she (the mother) had mixed feelings about moving in with her daughter, and yet, due to circumstances outside of her control, there was no other option….

Tonight as Mrs DM and I were out on a date, I thought back to this mornings conversation.  In the past an interaction like that would have left me feeling uncomfortable, but it didn’t.

I was humbled she trusted me enough to be vulnerable and tell me what she was really thinking.

Raw, unguarded pain.

Come to think of it,   I had four different conversations like that just this week.

And in none of those conversations, did I feel any pressure to say something wise or helpful.

When a person is really hurting,  the most helpful (and hopeful) thing you and I can do is to listen.  Really listen.  Not fill the moments of silence between the two of you with words.  Yes, there is  may be a time to speak, but mostly, just the act of listening, (or asking a question) does more that anything else to communicate hope.

I really do not have a clue as to what it’s like to be a full-time care taker for more than a few hours at a stretch.

Some of you do.

My dad, who is in his mid 80’s,  will occasionally put it like this…“Once a man, twice a child.” 

Not so sure I want to do the childhood gig a second time.

Told my wife this night I am going to ask my brother-in-law Loren to take me out moose hunting when I start to fail… wait until it’s good and cold, prop me up against a tree, out in the middle of nowhere and  call it good.  We laughed, because  first of all, I don’t hunt, and second of all, Loren is my mom’s go-to person when she needs to dispose of a pesky critter.  I know this is not the politically correct (Christian) way to talk about aging, but, if I am granted a long life (and there are no guarantees) I do not want to fritter those last years away, stuck in some room, needing to have my diaper changed every few hours.

So,  if you ever hear me talking about going moose hunting, you’ll know something’s  up….



17 thoughts on “Moose Hunting

  1. Right there with you on that one DM. My kids already have instructions and thankfully they all are on board. I would never ask any one of them to make a promise to care for me as I linger on. And you are so very correct on the listening part. Sometimes folks just need to talk and get the words out 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am with you on this to DM. I don’t have to worry though, I jokingly told my daughter that some day she might have to change my diapers. Her answer; ” Don’t worry mom I’ll put you in the best home”, and there you go! Seriously though, this is why I truly believe in euthanasia and I have told all my children and my hubby If anything ever happens to me and I am that bad DNR ever. They didn’t like it but I told them if they didn’t comply I would come back and haunt them forever. :o)
    I feel sorry for the mom but my heart breaks for her daughter. A good friend always knows when to just listen.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think it is great that @ least you are having these hard conversations w/ your hubby and daughter before hand. That is so wise. I had a grandparent that refused to get a will (even into their 90’s) they thought it would jinx them. It was so sad. I am not morbidly introspective when it comes to end of life conversations. Very much rooted in reality. A sense of humor in the face of our mortality is good. (I think)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. With you on this too. One thing I have always been is a good listener. Hubby jokes that I can get someone’s full life story over a cup of coffee, but then again he knows that if someone has something on their mind and need a sounding board, we are here.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was thinking about you too as I was mulling over this post…I told Mrs DM about your recent post regarding needing to step up to the plate w/ regard to your mom and dad’s situation. DM

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ben’s parents agreed when they were first married they would not become dependent on their children, nor would they ever allow themselves to be in a nursing home. After ben’s father had a series of small strokes and increasing disability, they traveled all over saying goodbye to friends and their two boys, and took their beloved sailboat into Monterey bay and sunk it. Her note to her boys said their father wasn’t happy and they knew they couldn’t be dependent on anyone, and that she was able to ignore “lumps and aches and pains,” knowing this was their plan. The only way the boys knew where they went down is a fisherman was able to read the call letters on the boat as it went down.

    I was shocked when Ben first told me. I told him never expect me to do that. But after 10 years of caretaking my mother (even though she didn’t live with me), I understand. I still wouldn’t do it. I saw Mom pray for purpose every day of her life and I was glad she was here, but it was excruciatingly difficult at times.

    Hard choices…and how to pull off a dignified ending. I like the tree in the woods idea.

    Thanks for listening. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good morning Martha. I was thinking about you yesterday, wondered if you guys had gotten on the road yet? and on a completely different…what a story about Ben’s parents…


      • We are on the road…picked up the trailer on Wednesday near Fort Worth. First night thunderstorms and a nervous dog in bed with us. Last night on a new campground ants crawling on my face, vultures in the trees, no other campers and a giant storm headed right toward us. We are outta here, headed south and then west to California. Adjusting to this new life!!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I had a cousin–dying from metastasized cancer, with no dependents– who asked me to help her end it. She was many states away and I was tied down with very small children at the time…so I told her I just couldn’t. Some of her sisters stepped in and helped get her very good end-of-life care, targeted at comfort and pain management (and NOT outrageous prolonging of life at all costs), so it all worked out…but I have had that on my mind ever since. Add in some big ups and downs with my parents and their health and one thing has become clear: we all do ourselves and our loved ones a favor when we talk and listen openly and deeply about what we want and need and are capable of when it comes to end-of-life. (I have been greatly helped recently by Atul Gawande’s book, I think it’s called “On Death and Dying” wise and raises such good issues about medicalized dying!) Great post, thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I think it’s important to make it clear to our kids what it is we want/expect. I have made it clear to my daughter that under no circumstances is she to allow me to terrorize her when I’m old. She is to plunk me in a home where people get paid to care for difficult people like me. Her sole duties are to consist of making sure I have lots to read, and smuggling in some decent coffee 😄 My mother in law came to live with us a few years ago – were she a pleasant kind person, it might have gone differently – but she is not. She fully expected her son would quit his job, quit this farming ‘nonsense’ and spend all of his time with her. Six months of trying to make it all work left us feeling depressed, exhausted and close to a divorce. We moved her into a seniors home (a fairly high end place). She’s 96 now, and still rages that she is not living here, still accuses me of ‘kicking her out’….. that’s what prompted me to have the big talk with my daughter.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Having worked in health care for so long, I have seen the same story repeat itself… a loved one is in the hospital after prolonged chronic illness with poor prognosis, and the decision needs to be made to continue heroic efforts or let nature take its course. It always seems to be the family members living out of town that suddenly swoop in and demand everything be done to save “mom” or “dad”, while the family that has been present day in and day out through all the illness and suffering, is accused of being selfish.

    I am all for personal choice, and choosing to die with dignity is one of the most intimate and personal choices a person can make. Thanks for sharing this thoughtful exchange DM, and for being a great listener.

    Liked by 1 person

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