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Natasha Lubin: My Son, My Caregiver

It has been a fantastic Thanksgiving!

Natasha Lubin We all know that holiday times are rough even if you have nothing wrong going on in your life. To those of us who try to live one day at a time, enjoying each moment, holidays take on a different meaning.

Those who have mates or significant others have, even if momentary, care givers who are there. We become angry and frustrated with one another, but usually there is love and caring, and yes, understanding. Many tears flow (for those who have tears), there is a lot to laugh at and about, and memories remain forever in our hearts.

Last night (the Sunday after Thanksgiving), I found my old family albums and decided to look through them. I saw my grandmother, long dead, smiling up at me with those laughing gray-blue eyes. My mother and father were cuddling me at age 3, aunts and uncles, just memories now, made their presence known. In a moment of sentimentality, I scanned several of the pictures to use on my web site (if it ever goes up).

I then found the album containing the lives of three children, the only happy result of my past marriage. Two live in New York. We speak often, but the distance is great and their lives are so different that, at times, we do not understand one another. My youngest, Jeffrey, lives in California. We have never been separated. He move to LA with me when he was 16. He has become a true Californian, has married a native and we are one happy family.

Jeffrey is my primary care giver. One day, way back when, he said to me, "I know, intellectually, that you're sick, but emotionally, my mother is never going to die and is not sick." We have gone to hell and back together. He used to resent being Natasha's son at all the art shows or stage plays I directed. He was grateful I was able to get him some TV behind the scenes work when I worked cable TV, but, he was still Natasha's son…that Lubin kid.

I loved being Jeffrey's mom as he advanced in his chosen field and was constantly promoted to more and more responsibility. Jeffrey is a cracker jack salesman. I hate the fact that he refuses to come to any support group meetings because "he's busy." My mind says, he can find the time for me. Yes, it's a sore spot, but we have learned to accept our individual feelings and fears.

Then, one day Jeffrey decided to come to the doctor with me. I had decisions to make…mainly working full or part time…and he felt he had to be there to help me decide so we could discuss the impact on me and himself. I never thought of that…how could he be impacted? Jeffrey had accepted the care givers role that day. How will my mother live with limited income, will she need help at home; what can I do to help her? It was quit a day! We are finally able to talk about what's going on, how I feel, what I need from him, if it's even possible. We yell at one another…"You work too hard!" "Don't complain to me when you're tired!" he yells on the phone.

But he's the best hugger in the world! He engulfs you in his arms and squeezes (gently) as the feelings of love are exchanged as mother and son. My daughter-in-law, Leslie, is just like Jeffrey, so we too are very affectionate and she is there for me also.

This past summer, my care giver was transferred to the San Francisco area. As the doctor said to me, "It's only an hour away." To me, it's years, not hours. Yet he has let me know he would come in when I go for tests, talk to doctors, etc. as needed. All appreciated. But the best is yet to come.

Wednesday, before Thanksgiving, my car broke down. I just made it into my parking spot when I smelled either a clutch burning out or the car about to catch fire. I spent a marvelous Thanksgiving with Jeffrey and Leslie, family and friends. On Friday, I was told it would cost $1,500 to fix the car. Not being a car maven, I thought that if I fixed it, I could sell it and get a new car. The dealership gave me a rental car…an automatic. Boy, what a difference! My joints did not hurt as much, my knees sighed in relief, and even my back snuggled into the seat.

On Sunday, I told Jeffrey the story and that I was ready to fix the car. Now, you have to understand, Jeffrey is 35, yet at times can react as a 21-year-old. "You can't fix that car!" he screamed into the phone. I suggested he take Monday off and find his mother a car since he was so adamant. His wife agreed. Poor guy, two against one.

At 7AM Monday, he called. He wanted my driver's license and social security number. Seems he had already called the Mazda people, discussed the car, stopped the process and was arranging a car leasing deal for me. I went to work in a daze. At 2PM, the phone rang in my classroom and Jeffrey was informing me that the deal was almost settled…I would get $1,000 for my car, I would add some money and the monthly payments would be about $129. The car? A 1999 Mazda something or other (see how well I know cars)…the lowest price one. He had chosen either steel sandalwood, black or dark blue (yes, he's very conservative). All I had to go through was a credit check and they were looking for the automatic on other lots so I can get it in a day or so. "Not definite, but there," he said.

By the time I came home at 4:30, Jeffrey was on the line. "Call this number…the woman will talk to you and the deal will be complete." I called. She needed my date of birth. We talked a bit. She said, "Your son is very concerned about you. He even gave me his car cell phone number to keep in touch. I will try to get the car for you by tomorrow and give you the best deal possible."

Today is Tuesday. I spoke to the saleswoman who said her manager wanted to up the down payment. I resisted, we negotiated a bit and finally hit on a happy medium. I could come down and get the car. Jeff called before I walked out to tell me the deal was not so good. I told him I handled it and was getting the car. He laughed. The manager and saleswoman said that Jeff and I make quite a team. I think we do too.

I will have my car tomorrow, if possible. I have done all the paper work, have excellent credit, I am told, and can just relax since they are still paying for the rented car I have. And, Oh yes, I just bring the car to them, they will return it to the rental place, all cleaned up and gassed. What more could I ask for.

I just spoke to Jeffrey and for the first time, all the barriers are down. I told him I am writing this and I do not know if he's embarrassed or pleased. Know what, I do not care…he's my son and I love him.

As I said, care givers come in all genres…all shapes, sizes, moods, and sensitivities. For those who truly love one another, adjustments are made as moods change. Look, my son negotiated a car deal for me via his cell phone and has once again reassured me that if I need him, he's just an hour away.

It has been a fantastic Thanksgiving!

To Contact the Author

Natasha Lubin
New email address needed
Old Email Prefix: nlubin
Story posted 12-25-98
Email updated 5-24-03
New email address 01-15-08 SLE
Blog link added 07-22-11 SLE

Story Artist: Shelley Ensz
LINKS
Natasha Lubin: Sjögren's Meets Scleroderma

Pg1: Thelma & Louise of the Geriatric Set by Natasha Lubin (PDF)

Pg2-7: Thelma & Louise (PDF)

Caregiver Stories
Natasha Lubin: Scleroderma Meets Sjögren's

Listen and Laugh. A humorous blog from a senior citizen with scleroderma. Natasha Lubin.

Go to Nathalia: Progressive Systemic Scleroderma
 
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