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  • Jerry Phillips

When Does Independence Become A Liability

I spent the last week in a little bit of a fog. I was out of my routine and out of my rhythm. On April 11th, my 93-year-old mother tripped on the sidewalk outside of her apartment and fell. While it created quite a stir between the ambulance and police coming to get her with lights flashing, gratefully she was only bruised and sore. She hurt her right shoulder. Three years ago, she broke her left arm in a fall, so having both arms hurt created another issue.

Last Tuesday we drove to Kansas to see our mothers, and when we arrived, we found that my mother had fallen again. This time she broke five ribs. She spent an hour trying to get up with painful shoulders and even more painful ribs. She was afraid if she called for help, they would make her go to the hospital. That process happened on Friday morning at 12:30. The pain was so great we had to have an ambulance take her to the ER. At 4:30 am, she was admitted to the hospital for what looks to be a lengthy stay.

My mother has been through a great deal in her lifetime. Her father was killed by a horse when she was six years old. That was during the Great Depression. She has lived through multiple wars, multiple recessions, and ultimately, my father’s illness and death. She has never remarried but has had a few gentlemen friends that she also has outlived. Her drive, determination, and stubbornness have served her well for the most part. She has been a role model for me in my personal and my business life. But when does it become a liability instead of an asset?

We all need help occasionally. Are we too proud to ask for it? In my business, I went from having a team of seven people, to working by myself and only having contractors work with me as I needed them. What I missed was the ability to ask for help. I missed the back-and-forth conversations that made us a stronger company. I missed the creativity that comes from people challenging each other and the innovation from the tension it causes. I realized I needed help and from that I hired a consultant to help me. That consultant is now my business partner and we have created an incredibly successful business together.

My mother, at 93, still feels she can go it alone. It has become an issue. I’m not sure how she recovers from this fall, but if anyone can, she can. But she needs to let others help her. Again, she has shown me something that I needed to learn. I’m still in a fog, mentally. But I have a great business partner who is picking up what I can’t handle just yet. On Saturday afternoon I gave my mother a kiss and a gentle hug, then we drove ten hours back to Austin. I call her twice a day, and we have a wonderful person who is her caregiver who keeps me informed about her health. I’m hopeful that she recovers, but I know it will be a long journey. It’s part of life to switch roles. She took care of us, and now I need to take care of her, if she will just let us help.

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