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Things are well in Nebraska

Linda Wilk

My sister had called me one day in late July concerned about how my mom had been getting along since dad died. We had already planned to spend Christmas in Nebraska this December, however, it seemed important that I make a quick trip out to York at the end of September, just to support my sister.

So, I flew out for five days last week and just spent time. There was no agenda on my part, no decluttering or list of things that needed to be accomplished. When my plane landed, I intentionally focused on my mom and her needs.

Which meant a lot of eating out, visiting her people and getting in some exercising.

We did do some financial advising check-ups, as well as a doctor visit after she had a scare a week before I was to visit, where she had similar symptoms of her original stroke and spent a couple days in the local hospital. It was determined she did not have a stroke. In her follow up visit with her doctor, he stressed the importance of doing exactly what she did that day she felt herself leaning to the left – call for help.

My mom was concerned that since it wasn’t a stroke, should she have called and gone to the ER. Her doctor very patiently told her, she always needed to call. We wouldn’t want a heart attack patient to sit and wonder if he/she was having an actual heart attack or just mild symptoms, he said. The sooner someone gets treated for a heart attack or stroke, the greater the chances of reducing damage to heart muscles or brain functions, he told her.

Now my mom is very focused on her lifeline alert, religiously wearing it, charging it and testing it. She has also maintained the fanny pack of items I helped her put together for when she is out of the house or away from home – her cell phone, house key, credit card and money, along with her cane.

What I saw when I was home is a woman that has come a long way. She barely needs her cane in the house and many times holds her cane inches off the ground yet continues to have it with her for those rocky roads and uneven terrain.

She gets tired much more quickly than prior to her stroke, a frustration to her, I know, as she is just 78 years old.

She is also slowly trying to drive a little. What I see as she takes the back roads in our small country town of 8,000 is someone who is up to the task physically, yet emotionally needs more confidence. We talked about daily just going a few blocks as she gains a sense of ability. My brother supportively talked to her about the fact she doesn’t have to feel pressured to get anywhere in a hurry and if she is unsure pull off the road and call for help. I believe in time that independence she lost and so desperately wants back will happen. Until then, she has many in the community who have offered to drive her, as well as a local senior driving service. And of course, she has my sister.

My sister has done a phenomenal job assisting my mom – just being that constant in my mom’s life. As a certified nursing assistant at the local nursing home, my sister’s patience is unending.

I tend to be more of a list maker and get things done type of person, while my sister is content to fly with the moment and bring joy and laughter to all occasions.

During my stay, I couldn’t help but veer a bit off course and get a few things in order, like lining up snow removal, scheduling a furnace checkup, underground sprinkler system winterization and an upgrade to her security system.

I also assisted my mom in cashing in a certificate of deposit that had matured and getting it invested, as well as checking in with her financial advisor about next year’s prescription plan.

All simple things for me, that gave my sister a true sense of gratitude. It isn’t that my sister isn’t capable, because she is, it is more because that is not where her gifts lie.

You see, my sister, is the one who can light up a room when she enters it. You can’t help but smile when you are around my sister, if not laugh out loud over some comment or action she has done.

One afternoon my mom wanted to go visit her people as she calls them at the local nursing home and assisted living home in town. Since my sister had taken vacation time while I was home, going to her workplace was not something she was interested in doing, so I took my mom.

No matter who we stopped to talk to or what part of the home we went to, both residents and staff praised my sister and her outgoing, bubbly personality.

It makes me so incredibly thankful and proud to see how well my mom is doing and how God knew which one of my parent’s children to place right there in our hometown to care for my mom’s daily needs.

I will continue to be the watch dog for my mom’s financial needs and be there emotionally and physically as often as I can, however, it will never be the same as what my sister is able to do on a daily, routine basis.

And for that, I will always be so incredibly humbled and thankful for my sister who I admire and love deeply.