‘The Final Countdown’: My family begins a new chapter in life

A columnist considers the implications of her mom's imminent retirement

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by Brianna Albers |

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If there’s one thing my dad and I can agree on, it’s that mornings are the worst.

My mom, on the other hand, is a veritable morning person. She wakes up energized and ready to conquer the world. By the time I drag my sorry butt out of bed, she’s usually halfway through her workday, which starts anywhere between 3 and 6 a.m. She’s a beast of a woman, especially when it comes to things like filing taxes and appealing insurance denials.

But all of that is about to change.

It was a typical Friday morning. My dad prepped my gamut of medications as I lay in bed, running through my to-do list for the day. By the time I jumped in the shower, I was awake in the strictest sense of the term — I was conscious — but I certainly wasn’t firing on all cylinders.

Most days, my early-morning sullenness doesn’t matter; Dad knows to give me a wide berth, metaphorically speaking, until I’m dressed and in my chair. But Mom has never quite abided by that rule. I’ve come to expect her rude awakenings, but that didn’t make this morning in particular any easier to swallow.

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It was about 10:30 a.m. when she barged in, bright-eyed and giddy. Dad looked at her expectantly. I shut my eyes, hoping beyond hope that she would at least keep her voice down.

Then she blasted “The Final Countdown” by Europe on her tinny phone speakers, headbanging like an ’80s groupie.

In her defense, it was a big day for my mom. After three decades of steady employment, she’ll retire at the beginning of May. We’ve been counting down the months, waiting for the clock to strike midnight. And while May is still several weeks away, she’d reached a milestone in her own personal countdown.

On an unremarkable Friday morning, she registered for her post-retirement benefits.

It may not sound like much. But to my mom, it was evidence of what’s to come. After decades of hard, thankless work, the end was in sight. In a few short months, she’ll be her own person, free of any and all professional obligations.

The Albers family always has something going on. It’s why my caregiver once called us “the busiest people she knows.” But now we’re especially busy, and not just because spring is around the corner. We’re in a new chapter of our lives — which is fitting, given that my theme for 2023 is resurrection.

Of course, it’s not all positive. Mom’s retirement, while undoubtedly a cause for celebration, means I’ll lose access to her health insurance. Thankfully, I’ll still have coverage through Medicare and Medicaid, but SMA is an expensive condition. I’m expecting more than a couple of hurdles when it comes to getting my needs taken care of. Not to mention the drop in household income!

But it’s an exciting time, nonetheless. My mom has all sorts of plans, from weekly outings to an accessible RV that we’ll tow behind our similarly accessible truck. We’re dreaming of Christmases on the beach, among other things.

It’s as one of my caregivers once said: “It’s always an adventure with the Albers family.”

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Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.


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