Friday, December 28, 2012

Friends are the family we choose

A good blog  friend sent us the most lovely Christmas card, Bea,  yes you did, with a wonderful photo of a cardinal on a snowy branch. with handwritten lines, "friends are the family we choose."  So very true.   Here we are two empty nesters anticipating  more of the care free life and at a time when we  should be free of responsibilities tying us down.     I miss my old folks, or maybe it's that now I am the oldest survivor,  the family historian.  For whoever cares.  That's the point, hardly anyone does care. We have been thinking more and more about things in general this year and how to begin to really live our lives as we choose, not by obligations dictated by the needs of others.   Tomorrow is promised to no one. Good friends recently reminded us of that; another good friend  has suffered strokes and is now debilitated.  We have been blessed with good health.    

December  2012 Florence right seated, blue and gray
 in the SNF with Santa, the annual Christmas party.
For someone who will be 96 in January, not bad.  
 Our retirement move here from CA was to provide a better quality of  life for ourselves. However we had another problem, that remains with us, MIL,  who continues going rather strong physically just as she continues further along the dementia road at almost 96 .  Wherever we moved we had to bring her along and  at the time she still had a sister, aunt Marie living here so she was amenable to return  home to MN.

Florence in the middle uprooting  Jerry and his sister,  Dianne
from MN  for CA 1950
Jerry is a saint he deals with everything without any assistance only from me,  although he has two siblings, neither of whom are involved and neither of whom would be even if they lived closer.  In 1950, shortly after the sudden death of her mother and despite advice and pleadings to not do so, MIL  left MN with Jerry and his sister for CA , to  marry Lyman.   Jerry left CA  returning  to MN alone to live with his grandfather and then enlisted in the Air force at 17, stretching his age to enlist. After Lyman died in 1990, MIL became Jerry's responsibility. She has been one of those women having to be cared for, looked after by someone else all her life and it has worked for her.
Florence and Lyman their 25th anniversary in CA

My career in long term care along with my family gave me an abundance of expertise and experience yet it is tiresome.  Jerry's  full sister has been dead for several years but the other two, his halves, the  younger Larson children,  roll along merrily without any responsibility for their mother. I suspect if they think of anything, could be that they will not inherit the $$ they thought they would; it is being paid to the SNF which has enhanced our lives. Still it is the  overseeing, frequent check in visits, follow ups with medical issues, appointments, my doing laundry, keeping her in clothes, buying, and on it goes.  We have more freedom to travel today yet hesitated to plan too far ahead, the back of our minds nag,  "what if...."   It makes me laugh out loud when some of the "family" say that they would like to come to see her, but then they never give up any part of their lives or plans and so they merely chatter along.  So many excuses.

But slowly we are working through this trial just as  we have others in our lives. Today we booked a 20 day land tour and cruise package to Alaska for August 2013 John Hall's Alaska, the Klondike, the works.  It is expensive, but we are also looking forward to spending our  hard saved money while we can.  Here is the link to the tour package by a local MN company out of Lake City.  They will even babysit our car and take us to and from Minneapolis for the  connecting flight.   Destined to become good friends,  that's what happens when you lack family, you choose friends. 

Our own plans are going to take first place, if we do not do this for ourselves,  there is no one else who will.  Besides all that, we deserve it in spades. It's a new attitude.  Make way for us.  This is our time of life,  our friends have assured us of this repeatedly.


  1. So very well said, Pat. You and Jerry should treat yourselves well and that upcoming trip sounds like a wonderful way to do just that. As you said you deserve it and a great new attitude as well. Happy New year to you both!
    Thanks so much for letting me know that you enjoyed the holiday card and message, which I wholeheartedly believe is true. My family is also difficult and I have decided to distance myself as much as possible for my own emotional well being. It's not an easy decision as my mother is 90 years old and living in NJ and my sole sibling, a brother who also lives there, does bear all of the responsibilities. It's far too complicated to go into much detail here, but I do understand and compliment you and Jerry on all you have done and continue to do.

  2. The Alaska tour and cruise will be a well earned treat for you two, and you can look forward to August. My hubby and I are retired and live in California. I am from Wisconsin so will be cheering for the Packers today.