Parenting Your Parents

      Slice of Moon, a collection of poems by author Kim Dower, is dedicated to Kim's mother, who passed away, many of Kim's poems are about her mother's final two years. Kim shared with us the life lessons she learned while caring for her mother.

      Don't keep everything inside -- ask for help!
      Talk about it. Call your brother or sister, or aunt or cousin. Talk to your best friends. Get your kids and spouse to help. The burden doesn't just rest with you.
      This is an emotional time and you not only need good advice you need emotional support. Find someone who'll listen.

      Be good to yourself.
      This isn't your fault. You didn't make them get old. Just like with little ones, we have to keep ourselves strong and healthy in order to care for
      our children, the same is true with our parents. Sleep, eat well, exercise, so you can make better decisions for caring for your parents.

      Be tough.
      Your mom or dad may yell and scream how they don't need help or want anyone coming in to care for them. You might need to do it anyway.
      When our parents might hurt themselves - leave the flame on the stove, eat unhealthy food, etc., we have to sometimes enforce help when they don't
      want it. We want to listen to their wishes, but can't always. Know when you have to take over and don't feel guilty about it.

      Let yourself feel sad.
      This is sad. Break downs are ok. Move through the grief at your own pace. It's hard watching your parent become incapacitated.

      Trust your gut.
      Even if you're getting different advice, trust your gut. You don't like the care-giver -- find a new one. If something doesn't "feel right" at the home or hospital,
      question it. Be your parent's advocate.

      Communicate with your parent.
      Even if your dad or mom is suffering from dementia, try to have a conversation. Tell them what you feel. Hold their hand. The communication will feel good
      and make you feel like you're helping. They like to talk -- even when they're repeating themselves. They like to listen to your voice.

      Try not to get frustrated.
      Everything will be upsetting, because this is an upsetting situation. Try to stay upbeat while you're visiting. Then when you leave - go work out!

      Keep your sense of humor.
      Remember that the way your kids see how you treat your parents, is more than likely the way they'll treat you!

      Kim will be appearing at Wordstock running today through Sunday at the Oregon Convention Center.

      In her second collection of poems, Slice of Moon, Kim retains her whimsical style while reaching deeper inside what it means to be human -- writing of love, longing, motherhood, vulnerability, death -- with the same humor and accessibility of her earlier work, but with greater lyrical intensity, irony, poignancy. The collection is a rainbow rope of entwined emotional fibers, each one a different expression: funny, sad, angry, loving, strong, fearful, sexy, and Kim weaves these colors beautifully to create Slice of Moon, a book that resonates with honesty and the complexities of life.