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It seems like minutes ago we were in Costco in Garden Grove, California shopping for food and supplies for my parents; now we’re at Costco in Sheffield, England replenishing our own fridge, nearly empty from being away for a month.

This was our third trip to Southern California in seven months due to my parents declining health. It can really take a toll on your body’s internal clock, especially since I was on the go pretty much non-stop the entire month. Steve was working in Utah for two weeks and Los Angeles for two weeks. Just having him and his positive energy close by helped me to get through those past four weeks. Seeing our two sons, Jonathan and Joshua, brings sunshine to my life. Their  positive energy and love gives me the strength that I need to get through this difficult time. They are there for me so that I can be there for my parents. I am blessed with a loving support system.

I give it my all when I am with my parents: my time, energy, love, patience, undivided attention and support. As I spoke about in an earlier blog, I have become the parent and they have become the children. So taking care of them is a full time job, even though I hired in-home caregivers for them, from 9am-9pm 7 days a week. Even so, when I am there they want me to be with them all day and all night long.

The good thing is that it allowed me to spend quality time with both of them throughout my entire visit. I drove my dad to his doctor appointments and dialysis three times a week and if he is up to it, stopped off for a quick lunch at one his favourite restaurants. When he was at dialysis, I spent time talking with my mom. She shared stories about her childhood in England and how her and my dad met and then got married within two weeks time, more than 57 years ago. We also reminisced about when our sons Jonathan and Joshua were born and the years of memories that our family created and what incredible men they have become. Through our numerous conversations we covered many years and many memories. Steve and I are trying to collect as much family information from my mom as we can, while she still remembers it (her long term memory is very good but her short term memory is not so good). Steve is helping me to put our family tree together.

It has been a few weeks now since we arrived back at our UK home here in Lincoln. That trip was stressful and exhausting so it has taken us a little longer to recuperate and get over the jetlag. But we are slowly getting back into the swing of things again: work, volunteering, visiting friends and relatives as well as taking time to enjoy the end of summer.

I call my parents everyday to say “Hi” and listen to them tell me about their latest aches and pains and declining conditions. Sometimes it is a good day and we find a few happy things to focus on. It is an emotional roller coaster that continues, as I feel as if my body is back in the UK but my mind is in the USA with both of them.

They both tell me that it is the calls and visits from Jonathan and Joshua and the daily calls from me that keep them going until our next visit, which is just around the corner in November, so that we can have a “Family Thanksgiving” one more time. They are already starting to count the days until we are back in California with them again.

I am grateful that I still have my parents, even under these circumstances.

0 thoughts on “Settling Back Home in the UK

  1. Maxine, it is a hard emotional place that you are in and you really are coping well when you look at the long distance you have to travel to see parents. I agree that you should ask your Mum as many questions as you can whilst her memory is still able to give answers and those all important stories about years gone by. I regret having never pushed certain questions to my Mum when she was `here`. I have nobody left now – both parents have gone and also my best friend, my brother – 6 years ago. Sometimes I have such a simple question that I would love to ask and there is NOBODY here that has the answer. I make sure that I answer all my daughter’s questions and I share almost all with her. My son is not too curious about my life when younger.
    I hope for your parents sake that November and Thanksgiving come quickly and you can all celebrate in joy and happiness and maybe a bit better health for your parents. In the meantime, wishing you a Happy New Year and all the best. Elaine xxx

  2. Maxine, had lunch with Mark May from the ZINE the a little while back and you and Steve were mentioned.
    I completely understand the roller-coaster of emotions when it deals with parents with declining health so I feel for you. Being far exacerbates everything as well and even though the jetlag does havoc to your body, it is very fortunate that you have the possibility to go back and forth.
    Wishing you, Steve and the rest of your family all the best.

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