Honoring my parents with the Bransford Family Values

About two years ago my husband and I were struggling with some parenting issues and faced with our desire to raise kids with values we cherish, we created the “Bransford Family Values”.

Over the course of several months, we created a foundation that allows us to communicate clearly about our core values while giving our kids a framework to challenge and ask questions. If someone violates a core value, they are called on it and the issue is discussed.

It has worked remarkably well for us and we have found that instead of our teenager retreating, we have been introduced to a smart, communicative young man. My daughter is usually the first one to challenge me when she thinks my actions don’t match our values. I have enjoyed the moral accountability this system has brought to my family.

Each week, we agree that Bransfords “value and aspire to be individuals with integrity.  We are honest, fair, respectful, responsive, compassionate and diligent.”

Over the course of the past few months, I’ve struggled with being respectful of my parents. They would insist they didn’t need my help and were sometimes downright mean. I felt the only way I could be respectful was to be seen and not heard … they constantly told me it wasn’t my business.

After witnessing too many risky behaviors and having my mom call me to share their poor choices, I’ve been able to move through my hesitancy to act in the best interest of my parents.

Unfortunately, I recognize I’ve only just started up the foothill and still have a very large mountain to climb. I am thankful of the lessons and values my parents gave me, so I can in turn repay them in a manner they would be pleased, even if it doesn’t feel that way some days. Prepared.

I really want to believe what you say, but I can’t.

When I get a message from a social worker about my parents’ medical appointment, I’m a little shocked and confused. When I can’t reach the social worker, I call my sister who was on the phone with the social worker.

Apparently, my parents were at the hospital. This is the second time in two days. When they showed up today asking about an appointment and were confused, the hospital staff recognized something was wrong with their cognitive abilities.

I jump in the car and drive to my parents’ home in the retirement community. They are both there and my mom is on the phone with my sister when I walk in. “We weren’t in the ER yesterday,” my mom says. She immediately turns to my dad and asks him if they were.  At first he says, “I don’t remember,” then he quickly changes and says, “Yes, I took you there yesterday.”  He then excuses himself to go take a nap.

The call ends and I ask my mom if she wants something to eat. She says she just wants a Coke and we walk out to the living room to talk. She’s retelling me the story of her visit. I don’t really know the story, but remind myself that I can’t believe what she is saying. She has dementia and almost no short-term memory so anything out of her mouth is suspect. I really want to believe what she’s saying.

If I could believe her words again it would mean things are okay. She’s not demented and all of these issues don’t exist. Subdued. 

I can give blood anytime I want to.

While I’m away and my brother and sister are visiting my parents, I’m sharing their stories. They are taking on some things I could not manage that will help with the medical follow-ups so we can get a clearer picture of our parents’ health. Something they have kept hidden from us for several years now. This one is from my brother.

When I called my mom, she was upset. Like she asked, we gave her the report from the psychologist. The three things he recommends she does not like and insists the psychologist has made a mistake and this report is about my dad.

I confirm that this report (with her name on it) is indeed for her. She rejects what I say and insists she has a good memory. She challenges me to give her one example. I give her three.

I reconfirm my arrival into town and the follow-up appointment to get blood drawn. We all agreed the only way to make sure they don’t eat and get this done properly is to have someone in the house with them to manage them through this process.

She immediately denies that there is any medical appointment or need to do this. She says, “I can give blood anytime I want to” and states that she won’t go. I tell her that doesn’t make sense since she needs to fast before the appointment and there is a specific place we need to go to ensure she gets the right blood tests. She turns very combative while I’m staying very neutral. When I ask her why she wouldn’t want to go she just gets more agitated in her responses.

I change the subject to confirm my arrival tomorrow night and tell her I’m looking forward to the visit. I could hear her exhale and she seemed relieved to be ending this phone call.

I know I can’t reason with someone who has lost their ability to reason. I don’t know how to make her remember that she can’t remember. It seems like the more she doesn’t know, the more she fabricates. It’s like an automatic protective reflex now. I wonder how long she has been honing this skill. Flustered.