Sunday, October 11, 2009

End-of-the-Holidays: Reflections on the Past

For many of us, this time of year is filled with introspection, reviewing the past year and looking forward to the coming year. Some years, moreso than others. This has been one of those seasons for me.

I realized as some point in the middle of the holiday liturgy that this last decade has been a most difficult one for us. Beginning in January 2000, here's an abbreviated chronology:
  • January 2000 - a dear aunt died after heart surgery
  • February 2000 - my mother-in-law died unexpectedly in her sleep
  • Spring 2000 - trying to help one child find the "right" college, all while
    grieving his grandmother
  • Spring 2000 - one child is grappling with clinical depression
  • September 2001 - one child leaves for college
  • September 2001 - September 11th - particularly close to home for those of us in the greater Washington DC area. Almost every family I worked with at that time was impacted directly - or had a co-worker who was.
  • September 2002 - our second child leaves for college; I began a new job
  • October 2002 - the Washington area sniper struck - six victims were killed within five miles of our house
  • January 2003 - I was "let go" from my job (first time ever! Two weeks before my 50th birthday)
  • June 2003 - began a job as interim religious school director
  • May 2004 - one child graduates from college; is unable to find a job
  • July 2004 - gall bladder surgery
  • July 2004 - my mother's health continues to decline; she becomes a recluse
  • Spring 2005 - one child developes a health condition, which results in a 10-day period of hospitalization
  • May 2005 - second child "walked" across the stage; graduation pending completion of several credits
  • November 2006 - auto accident: hit head on, car totaled; walked away with "only" a broken toe and some mobility issues
  • November 2006 - second child returns home, needing to complete some coursework by January
  • Winter-Spring 2007 - child's health problems increase
  • June 2007 - leave job and open my consulting business
  • Winter 2007-08 - child hospitalized twice
  • September 07 - my father has emergency surgery; does not go well; hospitalized for almost 2 weeks
  • Summer 08 - mom's dementia is constant; losing weight; my father struggles
  • Winter 08-09 - my father-in-law meets a new health challenge; we feel helpless to assist
  • December 09 - mom goes into home hospice care
  • February 09 - mom goes into a nursing home for hospice care
  • April 09 - spend a week with my dad and mother - dementia is total; there's no time but "right this instant" - the strain on my father is worrisome
  • June 09 - my mother dies - her death a release for all
  • August 09 - I have cataract surgery on one eye (second eye scheduled for 10/14)
  • September 09 - a friend of my son's from college days dies unexpectedly - from an infection picked up in the hospital. We are shell-shocked.

There have been some blessings along the way: children both graduated from college, both currently gainfully employed in jobs they like and which allow them to contribute to the communal weal; I find that my consulting business is doing well - I'm grateful for the colleagues who support me; my husband and I have celebrated 31 years of marriage - and we're still going strong! My mother's death has provided a release for many of us. It was good to spend time with my brothers and sisters-in-law when we were home for the funeral. I've been involved in starting a non-profit tzedakah organization; and currently sit on the board of another (educational) nonprofit. My child's health appears to have stabilized - and we're all rejoicing about that! Cousins' children get married - it's nice to gather for something other than funerals! We've found a place we dream about retiring to... and anticipate that the best is yet to come. We traveled to Israel.... and are determined to return. Our finances, which took a hit because of high medical costs and job changes, are beginning to stabilize and improve. Perhaps most importantly, all four of us are working -- the three of them full-time and me part-time.

In the listing of our challenges (above), I am struck by two things: 1) how truly my husband and I fit the profile as members of the "sandwich" generation; and 2) that the feelings of being overwhelmed and/or sad that I sometimes have stem from reasonable causes.

Some thoughts on looking ahead tomorrow.

No comments: