T Minus 60: Operation Safety Net

My brothers arrive in town and we talk through how they are going to deliver the news to my parents.  We expected both parents have received their license revocation notices, but unfortunately, we only have confirmation that my dad lost his license.

My mom just stopped driving on her own within the past year. My dad was encouraging her to get behind the wheel but she has resisted doing more than driving around the parking lot. This means my dad is driving without a license and uninsured.

We are sitting around the dining room table talking through a variety of issues. The goal of this trip is to implement the changes my parents have failed to make to ensure their safety and well-being. My brothers are here to help my parents move to the retirement community and retire their cars.

Over the past year, we have gone with my parents to see a psychologist and two internists to review their mental and physical health. All three made the same recommendations to simplify their lives by living in one place and eliminating driving.

My parents kept resisting these recommendations and have forced us to act in their best interest. They believed that they had set up their lives so we would not have to do to them what they had to do to their parents. Unfortunately, we were unable to convince them to follow through on their plans. It has taken a doctor’s recommendation to the DMV to revoke the driving licenses to give us the foundation for implementing these changes for them. Otherwise, they would continue to drive which further illustrates to us their diminished cognitive states.

We start running through the checklist and our conversation gets so lively that my daughter walks in and asks us to stop fighting. I turn to her and tell her we are not fighting, just having a passionate discussion. We were raised with family dinners where we would discuss and debate many topics. Thankfully, our parents gave us the tools to discuss and collaborate to best serve them.

When my brothers leave to drive to my parents’ house, we were all in agreement. We can have these discussions because we trust and love each other very much. I hope she and my son develop the same relationship.

We are very lucky.  I’m thankful my brothers are here to do this and we have not allowed this to come between us. United.

A Crisis Can Strengthen or Destroy Family Bonds

You seem to only hear the horror stories, the ones where something bad happens and the family fractures.

My siblings and I continue to work on letting our concern over our parents bring us closer rather than split us apart. It is not without bruised egos, hurt feelings and harsh words sometimes.

We have a 10-year span in our ages but as we all age, the gap gets smaller and smaller – however, I am pleased to boast that I will always be the youngest.

My sister is the oldest. She was off to college before I really have any memories of her in my childhood.  She is the kind heart that bought me a ticket and flew me to California for spring break in college when I just didn’t want to go to Florida where all my girlfriends were itching to go. Her open and sympathetic heart has helped steer our journey with our parents. She has already cared for her husband’s mother who had dementia and lived in their home for the last few years of her life.

My older brother was the one who saved me from the younger brother growing up. He was always the outgoing “hugger” that was the black sheep until the rest of us figured out that sharing your feelings outwardly is important to those around you. We still are amazed we were raised in the same family sometimes. He’s the only other sibling with two kids like me, so we find we have much in common now … I hope my kids turn out as wonderful as his and my sister-in-law’s kids have grown.

My younger brother and I fought like cats and dogs until I went away to college. We became great friends and spent much of our 20s together. We are likely to guess any secrets between us before one is formed and can argue passionately from varied viewpoints but still end up appreciating the other person’s viewpoint (however his is usually the CRAZY one in every debate).

The real test of love is when you face a problem. Not only do you get to better understand someone’s viewpoint on something you would typically never discuss, your trust of each other is challenged.

Several years ago, at a business meeting no less, one woman told us that a wildly successful partnership she formed with another firm was based on the concept of “giving each other the A.” You need to give your partners the “Assumption” that they are in line with what you discussed. Some days, it doesn’t feel that way, and it’s okay to call them and ask them to clarify.

It’s a tall order, but incredibly constructive. Assume the best of your family and they will deliver. Appreciated.