Love them and support them
August 3 2001 by Steve Hendrix , A first-person account

Love them and support them | Friday, Aug. 3, 2001

Friday, Aug. 3, 2001

Love them and support them

By Steve Hendrix A first-person account We had talked around the subject, about the subject, and through the subject for five years before making the decision. The subject was, if and when, mom and dad should sell their home and move to the Brookridge Retirement Home in Winston-Salem. The decision was a difficult one for each of us. We each approached it from a different perspective. I will try to give you my perspective as a child who lived near parents whose ability to care for themselves was declining at an ever-increasing rate.

Since I was the remaining child living in the same area as my parents, it was clear that as their health deteriorated their reliance on my wife and me would increase. While I watched the two most stable people in my life slowly become dependent on friends and family, I experienced a multitude of emotions. These emotions ranged from fear to regret and from grief to anger.

The combination of emotions, the responsibility I felt and a desire to achieve as much normalcy in our lives as possible, created a unique blend of mutual dependency that served as a strengthening agent for our entire family's relationship.

With mom suffering from progressive dementia, and dad suffering through cancer, diabetes, heart arrhythmia and kidney failure, I felt it my obligation and responsibility to help them make a decision that logically was the best choice for their health and long term care. My failure in successfully convincing them of their need for this move was frustrating, at a minimum, and infuriating occasionally. Mom, dad and I held many discussions about their decision and the opportunity for conflict and divisiveness was ever present. Through the pastoral care skills dad had learned during his 35-plus-year career as a minister, he was able to influence these discussions. While they were always difficult, we were always able to end in a spirit of life and unity.

One day after discussing our family's situation with a wise friend, my perspective changed. After quietly and attentively listening to me relate our situation, my friend offered this opinion: "Steve, your mom, to some degree, and dad are still capable of determining what is best for their lives. It is not your job to convince them of anything, or decide for them (until they can no longer mentally make that decision.) Your job is to give them information that they may not have and support them in the decisions they make."

At first, I was a little put off but in a day or two the wisdom of his advise became overwhelmingly clear, and I knew that the choice was theirs. They were still the people with the most at risk with the decision of if and when to move from their home to a retirement facility.

In closing, I offer this advice. Love them, support them, facilitate their decisions, but don't try to decide for them.

(EDITOR'S NOTE - Hendrix is the senior vice president for store operations for Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corporation. He is a 1969 graduate of Gardner-Webb University and a 1971 graduate of Wake Forest University. He is a member of College Park Baptist Church in Winston-Salem.)

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8/3/2001 12:00:00 AM by Steve Hendrix , A first-person account | with 0 comments
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