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About a year ago I became POA for my mother. I didn't like that. I still don't. In many ways it has ruined my life. But you do what you have to do. Not only did it mean I now have to take care of the woman who used to care for me, but it also means I have to care for my older brother who I always looked up to but whose life hasn't gone the way it should have.

The fact that I now have to take on full responsibility for my family has basically been a huge downer for me and has ruined the once great relationship I had with my older brother. I have done a good job of it so far, but at a great emotional cost. So it goes. I now know how to handle elder care and know what DOESN'T work for getting disability. I have done miracles for my family and I also am failing them. That is life.

Life is not easy, but we all have to do what we have to do. Sometimes I want to give up, but when you get right down to it, I do a pretty good job of keeping things going for a lot of folks. And I need to feel good about that.

Looking back I realize that growing up my life was pretty much taken by the hand by my mother and my older brother. They guided me through life and taught me pretty much everything I am. I always looked up to them and they defined who I am. In an ideal world my mother and brother would always be my guidance, my foundation.

But life doesn't work that way. Now I have been forced to be legally my mother's caretaker and, by default, I have had to take on my brother's care as well.

I never wanted this, but it was forced on me by my family...so I do the best I can. Now I work minor miracles for my family's finances while my once wonderful relationship with my brother goes to hell. This is life.

Life is not easy. Before I had to deal with my mother's life I had to deal with my wife's mother's dying days. This was my third experience of death. First was an aunt I was close to. But her death was handled by my grandmother. Then there was my grandmother's death. I still feel that loss long after she died. But my mother was the main person who handled my grandmother's death. I just cried on the side and moved on.

My mother-in-law's death from cancer was the first time I really had to HANDLE death. I came close to death myself when I was hit by a car, so I already know how death felt. But my mother-in-law's slow and painful death from cancer was different from my own escape from death. And my wife and I became the responsible parties who handled my mother-in-law's illness and rapid death. I was the one who told HER mother and sister that she was dying. I was the one who fed her cats while she died.

Life isn't easy. Caring for others isn't easy. I accepted long ago having to care for my step-daughter (now on the verge of independence) and my son. But no one told me I'd have to care for my mother and older brother.

Life isn't easy. But I am determined to do my best. My step daughter is on her way to her own life. I am working hard to make sure my son doesn't stack the odds against himself. I am losing the battle for my mother and brother, but I have succeeded in extending their care for another year. And I have guided us all to being carbon neutral because I want to do what I can to give my kids a good life.

Life isn't easy. Neither is death. But we all have to deal with both.

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