This blog is simply the story about my little life
with my sweet family that the Lord has blessed me with
and the day in, day out things that we do.
It basically is my online diary/photo album of our life.
I'm glad you're here!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Loving and honoring my parents

I love my Mom and Dad and sisters so very much.
 Today a big chapter of my life is closing and a new (and hopefully wonderful) chapter is opening. This story is about my parents and my sisters and how my sisters and I have been loving and honoring our parents by protecting them and taking care of them. 

 I have written a few blog posts in which I eluded to some of the issues that have gone on with my parents involving their finances and health, click here and here to read a bit more. Basically, someone who we all trusted took advantage of them, took all of their money and put them in financial peril (in the process they even lost their home, but thankfully a family member bought it and let them stay there). The only money they had to their name was their monthly Social Security. My parents were getting older and not in the best health and my sisters and I knew that we needed to move them to an assisted living facility, but there was no money to do this. We contacted the State and were told that we either had to press charges against the person (I will refer to them as the "person" the remainder of this post) who took their money or wait 5 years until our parents would be eligible for Medicaid. Believe me, we wanted to press charges, but our parents did not, so we limped along and waited. In the beginning it was okay, but the last two years it has gotten more and more difficult. 
Paying bills, buying groceries and picking up prescriptions for my parents.
 My sister Kelli was paying their bills for them in the beginning, but sadly the person manipulated his way in, removed Kelli from the checking and he had total control of our parents last remaining money, which was their monthly social security checks. It's like a crazy nightmare, how did this person who did so much damage get control of the checking account? For about a year the stress was so intense, I didn't think I would survive it, but pretty much with brute force the person left town.

After he was gone,  I started paying their bills for them and was so upset to learn that the person did not pay our parents bills for three months and instead blew it on himself with things like special coffee, food and restaurants. When he left town and we got control of the money, we were all so shocked and upset to learn that our parent's electricity was a few days away from being turned off! This was the middle of the coldest December our county has had in years! We also found out he had one last hurrah and took out a line of credit in our mother's name and got another $2,000. Unbelievable!

My sisters and I wanted to make sure they had one of us visit at least once a week, so we started a three week rotation. This worked out quite well. We took turns getting their groceries, picking up their prescriptions, taking them meals, cleaning the house and showering our mother. I did this every three weeks for months and sometimes I had a little helper come with me. :)
Playing checkers with my Dad. Buying funeral preparations for our parents with my sister.
 Even though I was really busy, these times I spent with my parents were very special. I liked visiting with them and playing checkers with my dad. The waiting period for Medicaid was going to be up in June of 2015, so my sisters and I started cleaning out there house the year before. This turned out to be such a wise decision (click here to read about it). We did it while we had time, energy and strength and while our parents were still alive and able to tell us about the many treasures we found in their home.  We started with the attic, then my mother's clothes closets, then the kitchen cabinets and china hutch and finally the garage and shop. We made sure to only clean out areas of the home that would not disturb them or make their home not feel comfortable and "homey".
Visiting and bringing meals was always sweet.
We were always so nervous that the person who took advantage of them would come back and ruin their opportunity to get on Medicaid. When we took over the checking account (after the person was in charge of for awhile), the bills had not been paid for two months! Their electricity was going to be shut off right in the middle of our county's worst freeze in decades! As soon as this person left town my sisters drove our folks down to the bank and changed checking accounts to a new bank and then I started paying the bills. First thing I did was pay the electric company. I slowly got all the past bills paid off and caught up. Then we started building a savings account. In two years we had enough savings to buy their funeral arrangements. I was so anxious at this time because it was quite a bit of money and I did NOT want the person to get wind that there was any money and try to get to it. Kelli and I made an appointment with the funeral home and made all the arrangements which are irrevocable, so no one can ever touch them!

Lovingly taking care of our parents is a blessing.
 Acts of love and service do help the person in need, but they end up filling you up as well. My sisters and I were so blessed by helping our parents. We were limping along, taking care of them with our three week rotations and working towards our goal of moving them to the assisted living facility in June, but then the terrible unexpected happened.....
My Daddy being wheeled up to surgery. Could this 86 year old man survive brain surgery?
 ....our father had fallen, hit his head and had internal bleeding requiring emergency brain surgery. God was with us so much at this time and many miracles happened. My sister, Kathi, was staying with my Dad when the accident happened, which was a complete blessing. She was there to notice that he was not waking up and she called 911. I got the call and I raced to the hospital. Our sister, Kelli, was in Italy on a month long anniversary trip with her husband and Kathi had not arrived to the hospital yet, so I was there alone when the surgeon came to me and asked if we wanted to do the surgery or not. She said he would not survive without the surgery. I had to make the decision myself and I said, "yes, please operate." Kathi got there right after this and we followed the surgery techs wheeling our father up to emergency surgery.
Where my Daddy gets his strength is where I get my strength too.
 I put this picture up on facebook and asked everyone to please pray for my Daddy. So many people were praying, we were so encouraged! He survived the surgery and survived the night! Praise God!
Mamma comforting Daddy after his surgery.
 The next day we went to see him. Would he remember us?
Daddy reading the Bible less than 24 hours after emergency brain surgery!
 Yes he did!!! He not only remembered us, but he could also read!
Having fun girl time with my Mamma.
 Oh what a relief it was to have Daddy stable, but we still had other issues to deal with. Our eyes were really open as to how much care our mother needed. She could not be left alone. She needed 24/7 care. Kathi and I decided to take turns spending the night with mom. There were times that it was really fun, like having pizza with her and watching her favorite Hallmark shows.
Reading the Word to Mamma in the morning.
I enjoyed having coffee with her and reading the Bible to her in the morning. Daddy read the Bible to her every morning, so it was really important to him that we do it in his place. I was thankful that I could be there for my parents, but it was so hard. Both Kathi and I have busy lives with our families and our jobs, but at times like this you just have to stop and help and the other things will work out. Thankfully both of our bosses were incredibly supportive. God worked all of the details out for us!
Daddy reading the Bible to mama three days after brain surgery.
 Daddy was recovering right on track and he got released from intensive care to the neuro floor. We are so pleased with his progress, but also still so worried. He has a long way to go.
Mom showing her pretty nails to Daddy
 I did mom's nails for her and she's showing Daddy. :)
Spending a little minute with God
On the days I spent the night with Mamma, I enjoyed getting up early, having coffee, reading the bible and praying on their deck in their beautiful backyard. This is the very same yard that I used to play in as a child. Oh how the memories are flooding my mind.

I have so many things to pray about and so many heavy things on my mind. We found out that Medicaid does not start covering their assisted living until June 22nd and we still have to go through the approval process. I am so worried about the approval part of it, what if they don't qualify for some reason? What will we do? For now we have to continuing limping along as we are until the 22nd. That's eleven more days! Kelli will be out of town until June 29th, so Kathi and I need to continue taking turns taking care of Mom. If they get approved we some how need to move Mom over to the new apartment in the assisted living facility. It's not just moving her over there that's so stressful, it's how do we move our parents from this house they have lived in for 52 years in just a few weeks notice. I don't think I can handle it! On top of that, I am so worried for Daddy. Will he completely recover? What do we do if he doesn't? Breathe Sharon, just breathe. God will take care of everything. Just take one day at a time.
Mamma and Daddy visiting at the nursing home.
 Kathi and I continued to alternate taking care of mom every couple of days and we visited Daddy every day. We couldn't believe it when five days after his emergency surgery he was released to a rehab center! He he is with Mamma at his new residence. He looks so good!
Still so in love after 59 years!
 Mommy misses Daddy, but she's so happy he's doing well.
He still remembers how to play tic-tac-toe!
 He is a little confused and sometimes talks nonsense, but his memory seems pretty good and he actually played tic-tac-toe with my sister's son, Garrett.
We are so thankful he not only survived his surgery, but he's doing so well!
 We all visited quite often and with most of our family close by, he had a visitor every day.
What an amazing miracle!
 This is how he looked on Sunday night when I left him. I am so very thankful! He just needs to continue to recover and get his strength back.
With busy times like this you just keep going!
 Meanwhile, Kathi and I were very busy taking turns taking care of Mom. Kathi is a school teacher and she simply brought Mom to school with her. I was still watching my grandson, so he came with me to visit!
Mom and Dad are so happy to see each other.
They look so good in this picture!
Visiting Daddy.
We just kept up our crazy pace with taking care of Mom, visiting Dad, talking with doctors, social workers, the people at the assisted living facility, working, doing farm chores, cooking meals, etc.
Shopping for the new apartment! They are finally approved!
This was the best day. I went to town and had a meeting with the Medicaid people. They reviewed our parents case and finally gave complete approval for them to move to the assisted living facility! They will be completely on Medicaid from now on and that certain person can never take any more of their money ever again! I cried at the news. This has been the biggest burden that I have carried for 7 complete years. I don't think I have really even realized the impact this will have on my life to have this burden gone.

There was one stipulation though, Medicaid said our parents had $400.00 too much in their savings account and we needed to spend it that day. They didn't care what we bought as long as it was for my parents. So in the midst of the craziness, I took my mother to Target and we forced ourselves to buy $400.00 worth of stuff! We picked out two darling sets of bedding for their bedrooms and my mom got new jeans, a couple of shirts and perfume! We also bought my Daddy a new computer! I stopped by the living facility and they already had my parent's names on the plaque in front of their new apartment! This is real! This is really happening!!!
I'm kinda smiling, but oh my gosh, I have got so much work ahead of me in the next 48 hours. 
That night it was my turn to spend the night with Mom.  As I sat there on the couch my mind was racing. I was trying not to panic. We got the final approval to move them and the big move was happening Saturday. Ok, so this was Thursday night and I had just Friday to pack. I have one day to pack an entire 1800 square foot house that they have lived in for 52 years. Saturday morning at 8:00 am our husbands and kids were coming to move everything and I had to have it all organized. I was all by myself. How in the world was I going to do it? I prayed for strength from the Lord and boy did He give it to me! I went through the entire house and put bright pink post-it notes on everything with a message that said, "Take" or "Leave". I carefully emptied Mom's two curio cabinets and told her we had to consolidate them down to one. I laid everything out on the table and had her chose her favorites. Then I wrapped everything that was getting moved in newspaper. My beautiful daughter-in-love, Megan, came and helped me for a few hours on Friday. She helped me move some big pieces of furniture and empty the kitchen cabinets. The next morning Kathi got there at 6:00 am and helped finish the last bit of organizing.
Our families working hard moving our parents
The troops arrived at 8:00 sharp. Everyone worked so hard. We got everything that needed to be moved packed up in just two hours! It was truly amazing how fast it went and everyone got along and made it fun. The gang took the trucks over to the new apartment and Kathi and I stayed behind with Mom to finish up small things. By the time we went over to the apartment the trucks were almost empty! This was such an incredible blessing! I forgot to mention that the apartment is on the third floor and there's no freight elevator! I don't know how they did it, but they got all that heavy furniture up the stairs! I am so proud of my husband and sons and daughter-in-law and Kathi's husband and kids. They all worked so hard and got it all moved by 12:00 noon, so it only took 4 hours for the whole job!
We did it!
Kathi and I stayed behind and arranged all the furniture and hung pictures on the wall. We got everything done and it looks so cute!
Mom and Dad's new home sweet home!
Mom loves her new home! That night she came and stayed the night with me. She actually couldn't get the keys until Monday the 22nd.
Kathi and I both stayed the night with her the first couple of nights to make sure she adjusted well to her new home. She actually adjusted very, very well!
We are exhausted! 
The next day we had to run errands and buy things for the apartment. We finally finished and laid on the bed. We were absolutely exhausted. What a relief to have them moved. We still had a big mess at the old house to deal with, but that's another day!
Moving more junk from here to there!
I had to take more things over from the old house to the apartment. Ridley came along to help! Kelli finally got back from her trip and she was able to help us with the last few things. We were so happy when she got back!
Daddy being rescued!
Meanwhile, our father was not doing well at all. He was declining rapidly. We were not happy at all with the nursing home where he was staying. There were a couple of terrible incidents that caused us to request another nursing home with our social worker. It was 9:00 in the morning and they told Kathi that the new facility couldn't pick him up until 3:00 that afternoon or she could take him herself. She said, "Daddy, get in the car!" She got in him the car and had country music blasting and took this happy picture of him. It was the best day ever knowing we got him out of that place! We honestly feel that he would have passed away if he stayed in that other place.
What a relief to have him in a safe place!
The minute he got to the new nursing home he was treated with dignity and respect. He was cleaned up and cared for and assessed by physical therapy. They actually got him up and walking with his walker!
Daddy playing a happy little song on his harmonica
I brought him his harmonica and he played it for us. We were all so happy!
Honey, I'm home!
The next day Daddy came to visit Mom at the new house. He loves it!

Leonard and Shirley in their new home!
Today is a very big day because he is finally getting released from the nursing home/rehab center and will be reunited with his bride of almost 60 years! I cannot begin to tell you what a happy relief this is to all of us! What an answer to prayer. I hope and pray that they will have several more years together in their new home. They started out their life together in 1956 in a little tiny apartment and now, after all these years, they are again in a cute little apartment. Home is where the heart is.

We have been on a very long journey, but I am so very thankful to God for getting us all through it. I am so thankful that I still have my parents and that they will be living together again and that they are in a beautiful safe place and that person cannot hurt them financially again. I am also so very thankful for my dear sisters.

"Honor your father and your mother." Exodus 20:12

"I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work." II Corinthians 9:8

"Your steadfast love, Oh Lord, extends to the heavens, Your faithfulness reaches to the skies." Psalms 89:8

Hugs, Sharon


Kathi said...

Sharon, Thank you for taking the time to so beautifully document everything that has happened in the last five years. This is such a touching and sweet true accounting of our lives. God has brought us through this. Tomorrow I will take Daddy from his rehab over to his new home with Mom. I will get a picture. I love you, Kathi

Jan said...

Sharon, as soon as I read this post, I praised God and shed happy tears for your family.

God is good,

Anonymous said...

Sharon, What a wonderful testimony in honoring your parents!
So thankful that the burden you spoke of and dealt with so long has lifted! Praise the Lord! As Christians, we DO go through struggles, we DO have hard times, but He is with us. God is so good! Just amazed at your dad's outcome and progress with a surgery like he had! Wow!
Sharon, I pray that the other burden with your son will also be lifted and that you will see God's goodness in that situation. Praying for your family and Britany and that little one!
God bless!

Lydia said...

I live in the Willamette Valley too and had interesting experiences with The care of parents and grandparents. I notice one thing that happens, is the Elderly person starts falling out of bed, and that is really something to watch for. My own parents each began falling out of bed, even in the hospital and in the retirement home. after that, they really go downhill. I never understood how we choose good care for them and put them in places where they are supposed to be looked after, and they end up falling. But it was encouraging g to read your story and I hope your parents don't have rest and peace for the remainder of their lives.

Lydia said...

We too had a problem with a person who assumed guardianship over a grandparent and wrote checks on her account and it was a nightmare. We even took them to court but lost die to them getting witnesses on their side, which we did not expect. I later learned there is a guardianship racket and practically anyone can do this to an aged person! Finally one of the daughters just went and physically removed her miner and brought her to live at home with her, but the system was a nightmare to them, and hung on for a long time.

Lydoa said...

I live in the Willamette Valley too and had interesting experiences with The care of parents and grandparents. I notice one thing that happens, is the Elderly person starts falling out of bed, and that is really something to watch for. My own parents each began falling out of bed, even in the hospital and in the retirement home. after that, they really go downhill. I never understood how we choose good care for them and put them in places where they are supposed to be looked after, and they end up falling. But it was encouraging g to read your story and I hope your parents don't have rest and peace for the remainder of their lives.

Barbara Beach said...

You and your sisters have certainly been through a testing time but you remained faithful. It is wonderful of you to share all (most) of what you've been through and will most likely help someone else. You and your sisters have wonderfully honored your parents and will pray they have many more good years together and for your family to enjoy them.

Rochel Badger said...

I did the same thing for when my father passed away. I looped his favorite song and placed a picture of him in the army at the top. I wrote a small little bio about his short time on the planet and then let family, friends, or acquaintances just post comments. It really is like a small time capsule I go to often to feel better.

Rochel Badger @ Homewatch CareGivers of North Atlanta

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