Thursday, September 15, 2011

Reflections for my 35th Reunion

Here's what I wrote for my 35th college reunion (which I don't plan to go to):

My kids are in college—it isn’t yet clear what their life choices will be. I’m still in the same job (over 25 years now). I built a program, Science and Technology in Society, that is holding fairly steady, but at a state university in this economy, holding steady is the best I can hope for. I spent 7 happy years doing triathlons, my longest one a half-ironman, but I’m not finding room in my life for the training any more.

The big change in my life is that my husband (now 66 years old) was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and the beginnings of dementia in 2008. His disease is progressing slowly and he can still mostly take care of himself, but I take care of almost everything else. It is far from the equal partnership marriage I signed on for. I managed renovating a house for his future needs and we moved--that was my major focus for a year and a half. The past year and a half has focused on my daughter’s college search process. I still enjoy my job, but I haven’t figured out how to focus on my own research the way I had hoped to when I reached empty nest.

I haven’t made peace with the lack of control yet. I understand that there is nothing we can do to stop my husband’s slow decline, but it is hard to wrap my mind around that and stop researching the disease. On a day-to-day basis the difficulty is how often I have to drop what I might have planned to do and instead help my husband with something or take him to a doctor’s appointment or do something for his 100 year old aunt, who lives in our town. And this could easily go on another 10 years. It is the task I have been given and I’m good at some of it. But I mourn my hopes for in this stage of life.

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