Some Reflections on My First Year of Retirement

My first year of retirement has been overshadowed by preparing for my Mum to come and live with us. It has involved sorting out a lot of stuff:
Clearing stuff from the room for her
Clearing stuff from 2 cupboards that were converted into a downstairs bathroom for her
Clearing stuff from Mum’s house: some to make her room ‘home’ for her with familiar objects that she valued; the rest in preparation for selling the house.

So much stuff to sort!

MUM 1

Alongside this, to preserve my sanity, I was catching up on a lot of reading, I started this blog, and followed lots of other blogs. In particular, I followed blogs on de-cluttering and dealing with procrastination – the two seem to go together.
I have great admiration for my patients who were able to use the skills I was teaching. It’s a big ask to change the habits of a lifetime. So often I’d think, ‘physician heal thyself’ – I don’t practice what I preach. [see here for a post on this: https://delemares.wordpress.com/2012/06/08/physician-heal-thyself-treasure-in-jars-of-clay-soul-fast-update-1/ ] Why can’t I set about de-cluttering mindfully and just do it? As one of our psychologists said to a patient, ‘maybe things aren’t bad enough yet’. Ouch!!! – do things have to get a lot worse before I really start sorting things out?

Aside from the physical stuff, there was all the emotional stuff. Clearing Mum’s house made me realise how similar I am to her – I had to keep reminding myself that ‘I am not my Mum’. Whilst this was going on, Mum was being looked after in a lovely care home near me. (Mum’s house is some distance from mine, so to get much done I have to stay overnight).
Eventually, Mum did come to live with us, but only for a few weeks – she had yet another fall, went into hospital and then declined quite rapidly and died last November.

The past 18 months or so have been quite an emotional roller-coaster. Feelings of guilt – could/should I have done more? Feelings of frustration with myself – I still find it stressful sorting clutter, which leads to procrastination. All mingled with feelings of joy and thankfulness. Thankfulness for the values Mum has taught me: valuing friendships (Mum kept in touch with people from her early days, old school friends and people she had worked with before marriage – people from all stages of her life were able to attend her funeral which I am sure she would have appreciated.)
Sadly, Mum often said that her happiest days were when she served in the Women’s Land Army during WW2 – was there nothing good about the 60+ years since then?MUM 2

And yet… in her latter days she responded with interest when she saw her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The latest addition, my first granddaughter, she called ‘my little pumpkin’ – odd because Mum was not a ‘baby-person’, often saying it wouldn’t have bothered her not to have had children: she was quite happy with her dogs! Maybe that was yet another sign of the dementia that had been developing over the past 2-3 years.

I hope the above goes some way to explaining why I’ve not been very active on this blog in recent months. Thank you to those who have kept faith with me and continued to keep in touch.

Please share any thoughts on bereavement, de-cluttering and/or procrastination.

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About Sandra Delemare

follower of Jesus, retired mental health nurse, writer. Interests: crochet, photography, wildlife I blog on biblical meditation, mental health and crochet. I'm also posting a series on my life story so people know where I'm coming from.
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4 Responses to Some Reflections on My First Year of Retirement

  1. sp56h says:

    De-cluttering is hard because some ‘things’ are part of your life, your journey, your past. When I cleared out my Mum’s things after she died I couldn’t part with everything. I have earrings of hers I’ll never wear because I don’t have pierced ears! My mum kept my dad’s cap after he died and when I found it my son wanted it and still has it, though again he will never wear it. Other ‘stuff’ I think it’s a matter of of just not thinking about it and throwing away. I wonder about my own stuff – my kids won’t want it. though maybe they will be like me and hang on to some item which will never get used. I don’t think that matters.

    Regarding your Mum – we all have guilt but it sounds like you did everything you could anyway and the feelings you describe are normal. When my brother and I eventually sold the family home (my brother lived at home but was moving) we didn’t have much time to sort out the furniture that he couldn’t take with him and I had no room for. The people we called in didn’t want to sell it and broke up a lot of it. It was awful. The first Christmas after the house was sold I went passed and there was tree in the window. I was so upset and this was years afterwards. It still felt like the family home.

    I procrastinate about lots of things….it’s a terrible affliction! I try to make a decision and stick with it. Once the decision is made (or I have done whatever I was putting off) I feel so much better. You’d think I’d learn but no, that’s too easy!

    Things will get better and you have a faith. I found faith a great help – also my friends. Even these sorrowful things have a purpose because we can sympathise with others who are or have experienced these emotions. Thank you for sharing your feelings. God bless.

  2. My mother lived with us off and on after she retired..in the winter but then when she had the aneurysm and brain surgery full-time …In the last year a couple of sisters would have her for awhile but mostly it was us. It was difficult because after she had the surgery, because of the scar tissue …her personality changed so much from a mother/grandmother that was so easy to be around and her grandchildren could do no wrong …to the opposite where they would irritate her etc.

    And then came the time when she could not stay at home but needed more care than what we could give and hence the ‘nursing home’… She wasn’t there very long before she took a fall trying to help someone else and broke her hip. Because her brain was not capable of learning to walk again she was in a wheelchair from that point on… Each year she would get worse and lost the ability to talk….Eventually after a few years (I prayed for the Lord to take her but He had other plans)…. after a few years she died. And I grieved so much for who she had been in my life and our family’s and then for how she spent the last few years.

    But over the years God’s given me a peace and I’ve felt an assurance that even though she was alone in the nursing home…He was with her and even I felt that Angels ministered to her during the times we could not be there.

    Grieving the loss of a loving mother no matter what her age takes time to do…. and to finally come to a peace and have the wonderful memories we had…

    So my you find that peace Sandra ….my thoughts are with you…Diane

    • Thanks so much for your kind and thoughtful comments, Diane. Thankfully, Mum was not poorly for long. Until her last year she’d been living on her own in her own home, although I’d been visiting more often to check on washing etc etc. but she obviously wasn’t coping – I think the dementia had been coming on for a year or two. By the time she did come to live with me it soon became obvious she needed a lot more care than I could give. Thankfully, Mum did not seem distressed at the role-reversal, so that made it easier for me. And now she is at rest… no more pain and enjoying the delights of heaven.
      Thanks again, Diane. God bless.

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