Learn Something New Every Day!

I’m thinking a lot about independence this weekend as the 4th of July approaches. 

But it is a bittersweet weekend.  My Dad is settling into a convalescent hospital as his new home.  My Mom lives next door in the Retirement Center that provides assisted living—until now, Dad has lived there too.  But Dad’s needs have progressed far enough that he needs more care than the retirement center can provide.  He is now being cared for in a good facility with a caring staff, right next door.  He is safe and getting the help he needs, but I’m still sad.  Part of that care means he is being told when and what to eat, what to wear, whether he can try to walk on his own or not, and where he can go.  I expect he is feeling alone, confused, frustrated. 

I understand that his freedoms are being reduced so that he does not hurt himself and so that he will get the care he needs.  But his freedoms are still being reduced.  His loss of personal freedoms on the same weekend we are celebrating American Independence just makes all these changes more poignant, more bittersweet.  This whole focus on personal freedoms got me thinking about the independence of our lives, the daily freedoms or even the independence milestones that we so often take for granted.  Here’s my list of freedoms that I most valued over the years and still value today:

Staying home alone for the first time, scary but fun, still keeping all the lights on to keep the creepy sounds away.

Getting my license so I could come and go a bit more as I pleased, augmented by getting my own car right after high school!

Getting my own apartment, not living with roommates as I did through college, but living alone, so I did not have to share the refrigerator, fight over the thermostat, collaborate over the TV channel.  I could also run up my own debt and had to clean the bathroom AND take care of the yard—hmm.  Freedom creates responsibility. 

Finally making enough money so that I did not have to teach summer school in order to pay my bills.  That meant I had the freedom to take vacations, heading off on my own to visit wherever I liked.  I still went to see family and at times traveled with friends, but my lone expeditions were delightful.  I literally had the day at my command. 

Of course as responsibilities and relationships grow, total freedom becomes moot and compromise and cooperation become the norm. But it is still great to wear what I want even if others say, “You’re going to wear THAT?” or to eat what I want, even realizing the chocolate or wine or ice cream are not really good for me!  It took some time to learn how to say, “No, I do not want to have a relationship with you—you are too negative and controlling.”  I watch lots of TV shows others think are silly—Star Trek, X-Files, even People’s Court—but I can!  It’s my house, my TV, my time, so there!  I even take my car most of the time when I go somewhere—party or other event—because I like to be able to leave when I want! 

I realize that I often overlook these day-to-day freedoms—they are just the fabric of my life.  But when I do stop to contemplate them, I know that these freedoms help balance the commitments of life and keep me sane.  It is the loss of these little freedoms my Dad is facing, so I feel for him and plan to bring him some of his favorite cookies when I visit next week! 

What are the milestones of personal freedom that you value? 

 This is a good weekend to appreciate them! 

This is also a good weekend to contemplate what actions you will take, to decide how you will make use of your freedoms and independence.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle.  I just wish that He didn’t trust me so much.  Mother Teresa

 We do no great things, only small things with great love.  Mother Teresa

Comments on: "Contemplating Personal Freedoms" (10)

  1. Deborah the Closet Monster said:

    I can only imagine what your dad is feeling.

    This really highlights something Ba.D. and I were talking about yesterday. I strive to be vegan, but I’ve had a harder time of it since Li’l D was born. I’d say it’s because I had so much more time/focus to be vigilant before.

    Regardless of what I do, I know being vegan is the right choice for me. So Ba.D. and I were talking about how I’m going to go crazy up till July fourth, then really set in. The beauty of independence, and celebrating it, are the choices we make as a result of it. It’s important to me to make the right choices for me, not just in the moment but overall. That’s what I’m going to be thinking of tomorrow . . . how it’s better in the long haul to spend the extra minutes planning out what I’m going to eat and do that than to give in in the moment, and feel the dissatisfaction of living out of accord with what I want for myself.

    Happy, reflection-filled 4th to ye! 🙂

    • You are so right that following through on our decisions–rather than taking the easier route of what is convenient–is always a challenge, but worth the effort. Have a great 4th of July. Hope Lil D enjoys whatever fireworks are part of your celebration. Happy 4th!

  2. Personal freedom and independence are very important to me too. I appreciate the liberty to speak and write as i wish, the freedom to start my own enterprises even when the fail.
    My heart breaks when I think about your father, my beloved Uncle. He fought valiantly so we can have the freedoms we all enjoy. He is an American hero and he has been an example to me all my life of what a man should be.

    • Thanks, Robert, he is basically okay in terms of physical health and care–but it is hard to think of him being there when I know he would rather not be there. But we need to do this. He gets his new hearing aids on 19 July so phone calls would then be possible. I will tell him you say hello!

  3. Interesting way to relate freedoms to your dad’s situation as I never thought of it that way before. Personally, I think about all the decisions we make in a day … wow … we have a lot of freedom. One way to realize that is to compare it to the lack of freedom that people encounter in other countries on a daily basis … that is in their everyday life.

    Happy July 4th Patti. Although my work project has greatly cut into my time, thanks for continuing to drop by!

  4. One of the scariest parts about getting older is the potential loss of personal freedoms, for me anyway. I feel sad for your Dad, but also for your parents as a couple, not being able to be together.

    You have given us a great reminder to be conscious of our freedoms, all the things we are capable of doing for ourselves – not taking that for granted. One of the things that I am particularly aware of and grateful for is my car. I’m like you, I’m used to being able to come and go as I please, and my car allows me to do that. I’ll ride with other people if I have to, or if I’m pretty sure that our agendas match. Otherwise, I really feel the need to have my own transportation. Sometimes it’s an escape hatch, and other times it allows me to simply work on my own time frame, to stay as long as I want.

    You have also reminded me that I need to be putting what I have to good use, making good decisions while I can, and getting the most out of life while I’m still physically able.

    Thanks for a great post that makes me think!

  5. Dear Patti: I’m so sorry to hear about your dad’s situation and your concern and sadness over it. I can only imagine how difficult it must be for all of you — for your dad, for your mom, and for you.

    You are so right. We often take many of our freedoms for granted. We have so many little freedoms we don’t think about every day. We complain about having to exercise every day until we injure a leg or an ankle and find ourselves sidelined. We take for granted writing with a pen and eating with silverware until we break a finger or develop arthritis in a hand. I remember the pain of Ismail having to give up driving. How fortunate those of us are who still enjoy the freedom to drive a car – even long distances to and from work, even in the rain or snow, even in rush-hour traffic.

    I’m glad your dad has the love and concern of his daughter and of a wife who still lives right next door. The three of you can help one another get through this difficult time.

    Thank you for sharing your story, Patti, and for helping us to stop and think about all of the wonderful freedoms we enjoy.

  6. Interesting thoughts, Patti. We take so many of our personal freedoms in life for granted. But our needs are strange sometimes, we yearn for what we don’t have, and when we get it, we miss the times we didn’t have it. Financial independence is one such thing, sometimes you just miss not being responsible for every penny you earned or spent.

    Thanks for inspiring us to think about the little things in life. Hope things in your family get better 🙂

  7. Reblogged this on eldercaretampa and commented:
    This message was priceless..

    • Thanks for stopping by. I am heading down to see my dad this weekend–and am pleased to say that he seems to have adjusted well to his new living arrangement. He is not happy being away from my mom, but he seems more calm and content but still aware, even though his short-term memory is going. I hope we all have a great independence day.

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