I didn’t put my feet in the blocks. I hadn’t carefully placed my fingertips on the start line. I never heard the gun go off. But here I am, an adult child of recently retired parents, running blind.
What suddenly woke me up to this totally predictable situation? My Mom, of course. But it wasn’t with her usual, “gently delivered” guidance (Vivid Childhood Memory: “Melanie, Holy Shit! Stop playing with matches! What the hell are you doing? You’re going to burn the goddamn house down!”). No, it was the triple facts that she hadn’t worked anyplace that offered a pension, she doesn’t have a 401(k) or similar savings, and her Social Security benefits are woefully small. She is struggling financially, and just a few years into her retirement!
I feel the early signs of a panic attack.
And then it gets worse: She tells me she has a pre-cancerous colon concern. (Me: “OK, we can deal with this. Fiber, more fiber!”) And then worse: The government is cutting her food benefits (aka food stamps). (Me: “Those fat-cats in Washington!”) And then still worse: She doesn’t have enough money to get her car breaks fixed, limiting her mobility significantly. (Me: “That’s it! I’m hyperventilating. I’m going into the fetal position.”)
I’m overwhelmed. Already!
And I’m sure I’m not alone. No doubt you are reading this because you, too, are struggling to cope with the aging of a loved one. So I asked myself, Why not help make things easier for you, too, both practically and emotionally? And why not ask my Mom if she’d like to give her wise (and often wild) take on things?
Well, here we are, my Mom and I, writing articles and creating tools to help all of us do this aging thing. And we aim to do it with (sometimes brutal) honesty and (sometimes irreverent) attempts at humor. Let’s face it, there are aspects of aging or being a caregiver that are simply not a picnic, and we won’t shy away from this fact or try to sugar-coat it. No, we will help you meet it head-on and get through it, and hopefully make you laugh occasionally, too.
And in case you were curious, we decided to call our (ad)venture “Artemis & Leto,” after the Greek goddess of parenthood, Leto, and her daughter, Artemis. We’ve given ourselves some awfully big shoes to fill.