Weekly Photo Challenge: Resolved

“It’s not that I mind getting old,” my mother confided, “so much as my mind’s getting old.”

IMG_1583I am paddling in uncharted waters. My eighty year old mother sits idly in the boat gripping her small suitcase containing her precious jewelry. “Where are we going, Debbie?” she asks. “I’m not sure yet, Mom,” I answer as honestly as I can. ” I’m trying to find a safe, comfortable place where you will be happy and content.” Five minutes later she’s forgotten and we repeat the conversation again..and then again..and then again, until she tires and falls asleep.

Living abroad has challenged us, especially since Ron and I both have elderly mothers. We make frequent trips to the states and count our blessings each time we return simply because we can share our love, our stories, and our histories. But, there will soon come a time when we will no longer be able to share those bonding memories. Those tender moments are scarcer, which saddens me.

There is no one-size-fits all manual for new parents, because every child is different, and the same applies to caring for an aging parent. In one year’s time, my mother has moved from a three-story house, to a condo in Florida, to an apartment in a retirement center. No wonder she asks me constantly, “Where are we going, Debbie?”

This year I am resolved to help her get comfortably settled and surrounded by family..those who know the stories and can jog her memory with humorous tales of long ago. “Remember when Dad got a new shop vac and you were styling your hair in the beauty shop, Mom?” “Yes, I remember that,” she says. “Well, do you remember that you were wearing a silk scarf around your head when Dad showed you the power of the shop vac?”  She starts to laugh recalling the incident, “Yes! He sucked the silk scarf right off my head and into the shop vac.” Those endearing moments, tales of years’ past..those are the moments I want Mom to experience again. They can only happen when surrounded by family.

Most Nicaraguan family units are large, with eight or more people living together under one hot tin roof. The Nicaraguan household is typically augmented by the presence of grandparents, aunts, uncles, an orphaned relative, a daughter with children of her own, and always accompanied by dogs, chickens, and a few pigs. Extended family members take care of their own. They even lack a word in their vocabulary for retirement home. The concept of a place where the elderly are removed from the family unit is alien and strange to most Nicaraguans.

Family members celebrate a birthday.

Family members celebrate a birthday.

Although Nicaragua is out of the question for Mom ( Her needs are greater than our island can support), we do have plans in the making where she will be surrounded by loving family. She’ll soon be living with my brother and his wife and their chocolate lab, Lena.

So, as I paddle my boat in uncharted waters, the next time Mom asks, “Where are we going, Debbie?” I’ll soon be able to answer, “Home, Mom. We’re going home.” I am resolved!

19 thoughts on “Weekly Photo Challenge: Resolved

  1. Wow, thanks for the fast come back…nice people catch me unawares 🙂
    Not fluent in Spanish, English & German, Spanish would take about two years. There is a ‘main town’ Managua, I believe. Is that where most Americans settle? Is it big? I prefer medium/small, but that is not usually where I can find a university. Parrots are heavier, huh? 🙂 See? Playing checkers as a retirement project just won’t work. How about free English lessons in the community a couple nights a week for those who have begun to learn? Other than your own lovely site, are there others I can pester with questions? Oft times I’ve dashed off with great success, this time calls for a tad of due diligence. I cannot tell much from a map and everyone that writes has a different opinion…except the Realtors 🙂 Plenty of experience living off shore, so no adjustment problems, but I’d like to land and not have to move 4 more times to get settled. Remember when you were new? Well, maybe you were younger then. When you get tired of me, please refer me on to another victim. LOL

  2. Super nice column in general. Being a teacher as well, I ask what are the volunteer/university opportunities there? Retire maybe, sit around with the pigeons parking on my hat, no. I haven’t a foggy what part of the country would appeal to me. Upcountry near the ocean, most likely…love fish! Help please…anyone?

    • Hi George,
      Thank you for visiting my blog. If you are looking for volunteer opportunities in the schools, they are limitless in Nicaragua. Fluency in Spanish is a must. You don’t have to worry about the pigeons parking on your hat..maybe parrots. LOL If you are interested in retiring in Nicaragua, your best bet is to come to visit and check out the diverse country. There are many beautiful places depending on your needs and your wants. Let me know how I can help you. Thanks again for your comments.

  3. It would be a great if someone would start assisted living type places in the Jinotega area. In the USA these rip-off places charge $2500-$4500 a month, and the people have to stay indoors all winter and part of the summer because it is too hot. Ometepe is too hot but in Northern Nicaragua it would be perfect. And it would be so cheap, can you imagine what you could have in Nicaragua with $2000 a month? But I guess most seniors would be afraid or not want to leave their family that visits them occationally.

    • Dean, that would be awesome! One of my young local friends on the island is an architect and he wanted to design small homes for those seniors in his little community of Los Ramos who don’t have any extended family. I think it’s a great idea. I know what you are saying about the retirement centers. My mother pays a tremendous amount of money in the states and she has no family here in FL to support her. Family is so important. That’s why we are moving her to my brother’s house. I suspect that there are many boomers living in Nicaragua that are in our same situation. If you build it, they will come…or at least we will come with my mom. 🙂 n

  4. My husband’s 92 year old mother is here with us. She has lived alone all her life so it’s an adjustment but it’s working. He’s an only child so it seems like the best option, and she’s enthusiastic about being here. What the future holds if she needs more care than we can provide? I don’t know. I think more of us baby boomers are thinking about living on other countries, so the concern of elderly parents will come up more as well.

    • Kris, Yes! We baby boomers have to take baby steps in dealing with our aging parents. You are so fortunate that you can have your mother-in-law with you. Our lifestyles on Ometepe Island would be too drastic for my mother. Plus, medical care on the island is lacking. Thanks for your thoughts and experiences in planning for aging parents. I would like to hear more about your experiences with your mother-in-law in Panama..good, bad..and hopefully not ugly.

  5. This is a problem for many of our friends as well. Although I like the concept of the large Nicaraguan family I know I would have a problem living like that as I do cherish my privacy.

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