When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade

This phrase is meant to encourage optimism and a positive can-do attitude in the face of adversity or misfortune. Lemons suggest sourness or difficulties in life, while lemonade is a sweet drink.  Most of us try to see the good in things and try to make the best of every situation, telling ourselves there’s a reason why things happen to us and that it will pass and get better.  But I think it is also OK too if you don’t want to make lemonade.  You don’t always have to turn something bad into something good.  Sometimes we just need to sit with the bad for a while because we don’t really know what to do.  Be with the lemons until you figure out what you want to do with the lemons.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  There are lots of uses for lemons — we don’t always HAVE to make lemonades.

My mom’s health suddenly took a turn for the worse recently which disrupted my entire routine.  She feels weak mostly and has panic attacks, leading to heart palpitations and giddiness.  She could no longer stay home alone.  I have since cancelled my drum class and practice, and stopped my teaching assignments. Every day, I would spend the day sitting with her at home, taking care of her meals and anything she wants done at home.  Some days, she is calm and lets me leave the house to run errands for a couple of hours.  Other days, she is needy and I stay with her till my sister comes home from work. S he was near depression worrying that something was seriously wrong with her.  Her cardiologist has done all the needed tests and the results were good except for a low blood count.  We don’t really know why her blood count has dropped — there was no internal bleeding which is good.  Because she and I have thalassaemia, our blood counts are naturally low, but why the drop is beyond us.  She has good days and bad days, and I am hopeful that she will eventually gain back her confidence to be home alone so that I can go back to drumming and teaching.  Right now, it feels like I am holding the lemons, not making lemonades because I don’t know what I can do.

At 50plus, most of us would likely be faced with aging parents and shouldering the responsibility of taking care of them.  Some of us are lucky enough to have healthy parents who can take care of themselves and lead active lives.  Others, not so lucky.  I have a friend who was happily living in the US with her boyfriend when her father fell seriously ill back home.  She returned to take care of him so that her mother has some help and her 2 older brothers can continue with their lives.  It has been 2 years and her father has been in and out of hospitals.  She has picked up baking since she was unable to leave the house for long periods of time.  Perhaps one day, she could look at starting her own pastry business from home while taking care of her dad and aging mom.  I don’t really know, and I hate to ask, what will happen to Boyfriend.

I have another friend who recently hired a maid to help take care of her dad who require help going to the bathroom and walking, after leaving the hospital.  She lives with her parents while her siblings live on their own.  Things seem to be working out well so far and her dad seems to be getting stronger.  At least she was not home bound, like I am now.

My sister and I have discussed hiring a maid and, although mom was in favor previously, she has since changed her mind.  It might still happen — we are waiting to see improvements in her health.  Just when I was despairing about the loss of freedom and income, my WeChat bosses assigned me a project that I can work on from home — translating a 120-page PowerPoint presentation from Chinese to English, where I was able to charge an hourly rate.  It’s my first time doing translation work — thank goodness for Google Translate — and I am learning a lot about WeChat and how to fill the gaps left by direct translation from Chinese to English.  It did feel like, out of the blue, I was given the recipe to make a different kind of lemonade.

Sure, I miss not going to the different classes to teach the WSQ Digital Citizens courses — I started freelance teaching in April, making this type of lemonade for the past 7 months.  And I really miss drumming, something that I started in Mar last year.  Most of all, I miss not having my freedom.  But, for now, mom needs me and my sister needs me to share the responsibility of taking care of mom so that she can continue working to pay for mom’s expenses.  I shouldn’t complain — after all, my sis has been supportive of me leaving the corporate world and has taken over a lot of the joint expenses.  Plus I am not totally holding the lemons anymore but handed a recipe to make a different kind of lemonade. 

I sincerely hope mom’s health will improve — I look forward to going for morning walks with her and sending her, once again, to her English classes and outings with her friends.  It must be so horrible for her to be couped up in the house every day with nothing to do except watch TV, do some reading, eat and sleep.  It is important to improve her health first, then her quality of life next, otherwise it will just be a vicious cycle and she will go into depression.

For those of us taking care of aging parents, a salute to you.  It is not an easy job but someone has to do it — and that someone is the beautiful you who is filled with love, patience and empathy.


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