If We Had Coffee

by Chris de Serres

My father is dying.  My mother doesn’t realize he is.  I toured a senior living community last night because she refused to come with me.  I don’t even know if my parents could afford it because they won’t share their financials with me.  They currently live in a two-story house over an hour away from the nearest hospital, but my mother says she loves her house.  I tell her it’s dangerous.  He can barely walk up and down the steps to the bedroom.  He’s on 10 different kinds of medications.  They won’t be able to pay the mortgage for much longer.

He’s spent more days in the hospital than at home this month.  My mom has relied on him for everything.  She can barely drive their car.  She refuses to visit him in the hospital because she is anxious about driving in the city.  So she asks me to take days off from work to drive her.

The other day I told her that she had to drive home by herself.  I programmed Google Maps and told her to just listen to the voice.  She immediately got lost and spent 30 minutes confused in a large parking lot.

My father is dying, but all my energy has been spent dealing with my mother.  My dad in the hospital is almost an afterthought.

On the other end, my mother-in-law lives in a studio apartment, waiting for her husband to pass away.  He has Alzheimers.  Most days he is barely conscious.  He doesn’t recognize his own wife.  He often thinks she is his sister or his previous wife or his mother.  She waits.  We got her an IPad to help make the waiting easier.

Once he dies, we must figure out what to do with my mother-in-law.  Much like we are figuring out what to do with my parents.  She can’t move to the U.S. because she is Canadian and she would lose her medical if she did.  So we have to settle her along a border town somewhere.

Ophelia and I don’t talk about our goals and dreams.  We don’t plan for next month or 6 months from now.  Two men are dying and two women are waiting on them and we are waiting on all of it.

All of this has been an abject lesson in saving.  No one did.  There is very little thought in planning to grow old.  We just do, and it happens like a violent explosion.  It’s messy and emotional and filled with trauma.  There are survivors and there are victims.  I can’t sort between the two.  I see perseverance and failure to thrive.  It’s disturbing and disappointing and inspiring too.

I’m just trying to handle all of this as best I can.

I read a financial website that said, at my age, I should have saved 3 times my annual income for retirement.  Right now, i’m not even close.

Pass the creamer.

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