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Monday, November 29, 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Loving and Taking Care of an Elderly Parent


Have you ever sat at the computer and googled your family and friends?  Recently, I googled my Grandma, Rev. Dr. June Morehead Marable.  Her honors and accolades highlighted on the screen, as I scrolled down the page and marveled at her dissertation description.  Her stories of growing up as a minister's child filled my head, and I imagined her white gloves, sharp tailored suits, and of course matching hats.  We called her “Groovy Grandmother” growing up, because she wore the title "woman" well and was classy, intelligent,beautiful and sophisticated.  She also jumped on the trampoline, roller-skated, and played ball with us. 

Several years ago, I started noticing my grandma's memory was fading.  She began calling me my sister's name, Malaika, and reiterating the same stories about the pledging days and hymns of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.  I soon knew those stories so well, that I could finish them for her.  I miss those stories now.  Today, Alzheimer's is trying to control her thought process.  There are times when she will surprise you and remember important aspects of your life, or lecture to you as if you were a pupil in her classroom.  The sparkles in her eyes are still bright, but have become a bit more distant through the years, and are fading slowly.

Throughout my grandma's journey, my Aunt Madonna has been there every step of the way.  She has been the researcher, guide, and parent for her mom.  Observing this transition of parent and child interaction has been an eye-opening experience and one shown with grace and unconditional love. 

There are some people in the world that are just remarkable.  My grandma and aunt are two of those people.  Madonna’s journey of assisting her mom needed to be shared.  I asked her to provide helpful tips for those of you facing the same situation of taking care of an elderly parent.

Madonna began, “My personal journey with my mom’s condition was at first viewed as unbelief, rationalizations, and excuses.  I dismissed her often times irrational behaviors, negative attitudes, paranoia, and forgetfulness.  I attributed the changes in mom as a reaction to a series of external challenges and changes which she had no control of.”

In reflection she continued, "My mother's diseases progressed when she turned 70 years old.  I noticed she would often lose her keys, call the locksmith to install locks, and take them off all the doors in her house.  Every door.” 

These activities were unusual for my grandma.  Being an educator, she was always very sharp and aware of her surroundings.  Her background was quite extensive for an older African American woman, having earned four degrees including a Ph.D. in Education, and a Masters in Divinity.  Who knew a deadly brain disorder would slowly consume a once vital, brilliant woman?

"She couldn’t remember how to get back home and forgot to pay her bills.  She didn’t want to let go of control, however over a period of time, one by one, I convinced her to allow me to assist her with managing her household and responsibilities," explained my aunt.

Aunt Madonna felt alone as her mom’s primary care giver and experienced insurmountable grief.  “I felt alone, like no one understood."  She decided to change the way she was feeling and started researching ways to assist her mom. My grandma is doing much better now, because my aunt stepped in to assist her when she needed it most. 

Tips for Caregivers:
  • Take time to care for yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually
  •  Join support groups, if needed
  • Don't try to do everything yourself - ask for help
  • Exercise
  • Eat healthy
  • Reduce stress
  • Rest and meditate
  • Forgive 
Published in Elephant Journal

    Saturday, November 20, 2010

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    Friday, November 19, 2010

    FB Status Updates to Make You Laugh

    1 - Stay-At-Work Mom: I need a reminder to take my head scarf off before coming to work.

    2 - Stay-At-Work Mom: Getting ready for work in Savannah and missing my 3 favorite guys and my electric pump. @ Target - Why did I buy a handheld pump! I think I'm developing Carpal tunnel syndrome.

    3 - Marable Family: FB Marable's are all related both black and white. I'm about 99.99% sure that we're kin. Another indication would be skinny legs.

    4 - Me + Hubby: Steppin' out with Hubby this weekend! Quick Shout-Out to the best Mother-in-Law in the WORLD for keeping the little ones. Getting ready to teach 'em how to dougie. Movin' the moves from the living room to the club! It's been a long time CAU!

    5 - Married w/ 2 Boys: Football players wear "uniforms" not "outfits!"

    Friday, November 12, 2010

    Obama Gets The Middle Finger: Did He Just Give Me the Bird?

    A Kentuckian revved up his engine to race on the freeway, then peered over at me and flashed “the bird.”  I looked towards my husband and started laughing in shock, because I hadn’t gotten the finger in awhile.  Not even in Atlanta traffic.

    We both couldn’t figure out why he wanted to race, let alone why I got the middle finger from a stranger.  Process of elimination went into effect.  Maybe our kids in the back seat frowned at him and that got his blood boiling.  Or maybe he was upset that our car was faster than his.

    Then the "Ah Ha" moment hit us.  That’s it!  It was the Obama window decal.  He was ticked off that we were Obama supporters.  We let his anger roll off our backs and went on our way, taking the higher road of nonviolence and overlooking ignorance.

    The most recent elections caused me to reflect on this incident.  My stand is this: I’ll take the bird for Obama.  I’ll stand up in red neck central with a bullhorn and scream out his name.  I’ll cast my vote again and again for Obama.  People are too busy being ignorant and bashing Obama instead of supporting him.  I can imagine that people think being against Obama is what’s popular, not realizing that he’s for the “little man,” who is the blue collar worker that struggles to put food on the table.  Get off the movement to bash Obama, and jump on the train to support him. 

    Published in Elephant Journal

    Tuesday, November 09, 2010

    How did you tell him you were pregnant?

    How did you tell him you were pregnant?

     

    I placed the pregnancy test on the kitchen counter. When my hubby came home, he was happily surprised to see two blue lines on the pregnancy test, indicating that we were pregnant again!

     

    The first time around, we had to Google what two lines meant, because I had thrown out the directions. Married with Two Boys is a blast!

    Mommy Guilt

    Mommy guilt is extremely difficult to handle, let alone get rid of. As a stay-at-work mother of two, I think there are ways of coping with guilt in order to balance work and motherhood. I believe that women put too much pressure on themselves to try to be "super mom." I've realized that I'm a better mom when I take time out of my busy schedule for "mommy time." I believe that it takes a "village to raise a child," and I've learned to ask for help from "my village." I rely on my husband and family to help me balance it all. By allowing them to help, it has made my life easier and more enjoyable. My in-laws are absolutely wonderful and encourage my husband and I to have date nights several times a month. These nights help us relax and we look forward to spending well-deserved adult time together.

    Wednesday, November 03, 2010

    Every place should be like Adams Morgan.

    I can remember distinctly in graduate school, driving from Happy Valley to Pittsburgh, on my way to interview for Teach for America. At the time, I wasn’t knowledgeable about the invention of navigation systems, and even if they were available, I couldn’t have afforded it on my salary. Anyhow, it would have probably cost more than the Kia Sephia that my Granddad selected for me at a Cincinnati car auction. After learning how to drive stick shift, I claimed thee as my own and endearingly named her, “Snowflake.”

    The twists and turns of the mountainous highway, and fear or hitting an Amish family’s buggy, caused Snowflake and me to nearly swerve off the road. I quickly grew impatient with my crinkled paper map and pulled the car over at a small store to ask for directions. While waiting in line to talk with the cashier, a young white girl no older than 5 years old, stood directly in front of me. Out of curiosity, she kept turning her head around to look at me. Then, she turned around and began starring at me. I acknowledged her curiosity and smiled back at her. Finally, she touched my hand with her pointer finger, rubbed her fingers, and peered down at her fingertips. She was amazed that my blackness did not rub off.

    I quickly checked myself before showing that I was alarmed by her reaction, and continued to smile. I imagined that I was the first black person that she had ever seen, and wanted my encounter with her to be a positive one.

    My family had lived in many different states, prior to settling at the foot of the flatirons in Boulder. I felt the harshness of racism as an adolescent, having my locker vandalized and being called out of my name in middle and high schools. In the mid-90’s at my high school, there were only two openly gay students, both of whom I admired and supported for being out.

    As a society, we are slowly progressing in valuing diversity. I’ve lived in the South now collectively for over 10 years. My most recent encounter of being uncomfortable came just a week ago, when I greeted a woman with a handshake and she opted not to shake my hand. My experience years ago in the Pennsylvania store came back to me, and like then, I smiled and acknowledged her being uncomfortable. Inside I was perturbed.

    I’d like to hope that the more diverse our society becomes, the more inclusive people will be. I think we should have a “Step Out of Your Comfort Zone Day” in America, where people become more open minded to other cultures, ethnicities, and sexual orientation. Let’s rally in the spirit of Adams Morgan, a place where all people accept one another and party in unison.

    Published in Elephant Journal.
    Photo Credit

    Monday, November 01, 2010

    Sock Monster.

    I do believe the Sock Monster is eating my kid’s socks. I can't find a matching pair to save my life!

    I ignore patterns and just go with colors. Santa sock will go with solid red sock. Army pattern sock will match solid green sock.

    They need to put magnets inside of socks so they stay together in the washing machine.

    Although that may not be good for the dryer.

    Learn more about Bert's Big Adventure!

    Bert's Big Adventure 10th Year Anniversary directed, edited and music produced by Joshua Marable.