Proud

Dear Phil,

I took the boy to his first Pride parade yesterday. He was so happy to be there, Phil. He cheered and clapped and he kept saying how great it was. I know he was in awe of some of the drag queens we saw. They were beautiful!

I tried not to think too much about you, but that was impossible. I kept thinking of us last year watching the parade with my friend, Trish. You had to sit through the parade but you clapped and cheered. I remember how fragile you were. I hovered and worried about you that day. I guess the writing was already on the wall, but I refused to read it. I wasn’t ready.

But yesterday, as the kid and I strolled through the Pride marketplace where he bought a rainbow bandana and fedora (wore both of them proudly) and a rainbow shot glass (this kid and his shot glasses disturbs me a smidge), I watched all the folks walking around and imagined the conversations you and I would have. I pointed one fellow out to Bri and told him that more than likely you would roll your eyes when you saw the guy with his cropped tank top and pot belly and mutter, “What a mess!” Then I would laugh and say, “No, c’mon, he’s trying to be fun and cute with his rainbow hair and perhaps too tight shorts.” Then you would scoff and retort with some scathing remark about the poor guy and I’d end up laughing so hard I’d be in tears.

I had to admit to the boy that I missed you an awful lot at that moment. I didn’t cry, though. You’d be proud of me. I swallowed my sob and just looked up and away from the crowd.  That’s when I noticed this:

rainbow2

Fantastic, huh? It was there the whole time and I hadn’t even noticed it. How the hell did I miss that? I think as tall people we always look down, don’t we? I need to start looking up more. So I snapped a picture then grabbed the kid’s arm and we wandered some more. I could nearly hear your laugh everywhere we went.

Do you remember what we did last year after the parade? I bought you supermarket sushi as a belated birthday present and we went back to my house to eat. At one point, we were sitting at my kitchen bar and I popped up to either wash a dish or do something and you grabbed my arm and said, “Stop. Sit down and eat with me.”

So I did.

Did you know that was the last meal we’d eat together? You probably had an idea. You understood more of what was happening to your body than I did.  Or I kept denying it. You always came home, Phil. Each time you went into the hospital, you always came home. None of us ever wanted to believe it would be any other way.

So…thank you for trying to teach me to live in the moment that day. To spend time with you while you were still here. To just be with you and eat and talk. That’s what we did best, right? We’re a family of great eaters and talkers. Especially eaters. 😉

I love you, old man and I miss you like fucking crazy.

Hugs and sloppy kisses,

Holly

Advertisements

And then there were four…

My mother always said that when she gets to the point where she needs to be in a home, then that’s what we need to do. She never wanted to live with her children because she never wanted to “burden” us. But now that we’re facing the truth that she needs to be somewhere besides her own home….well, let’s just say that without planning for the future, we can say whatever we want but it doesn’t make it a reality.

I moved Mom in with my family a few weeks ago. She just had a major surgery that would help her circulation and we just couldn’t send her back home. She had stopped taking her medication, even with many reminders. Her diabetes was out of control (will lose several toes next week), she barely ate, and her house was….awful. You have to understand that my mother was always an immaculate housekeeper. Everything was cleaned A LOT. Very little clutter (except the occasional tabletop or closet) and just a really neat house, you know? I realize that when you get older, you can’t do as many things. I get it. But not like this. Food was rotting on the counter. Plants could grow on the carpet. Burnholes in the mattress and clothing. This wasn’t my mom’s house anymore. This wasn’t my mom. And this wasn’t safe.

So, what to do? Assisted living? Nursing home? My house? Honestly, there weren’t many options. At that time, if she didn’t come home with me, she’d go back home. And I couldn’t do that. I felt like that was neglect on my part. Cruel, even. But is it cruel to take her away from her home? Maybe. But the things that have happened at my house since she’s arrived has made me realize how bad her dementia and her physical health really are. Every time I had to go to her house, I was always worried about what I’d find. And don’t get me wrong, there were good days. But so many bad ones.

Is it any better with Mom living with my family? Well…..yes and no. She now takes her meds, she eats, she changes her clothes every day, she washes up and she showers. Most of those things were not happening at her home. Is she happy? I’m not sure. Was she happy before? I don’t know. I really don’t.

And what about my family? Lots of changes. Difficult some days, but we laugh as much as we can. My husband has been an absolute saint through all of this. He’s been so supportive and helpful. My son is doing well, although we have had many discussions about what we don’t like about our current situation and what we do like. He loves his grandmother with everything he has, but it’s still difficult when you lose your bathroom and Grammie acts odd sometimes. Both my husband and I try to carve out one-on-one time to spend with him. We always spent time with him before, but now it’s even more vital.

And me? Well, I finally start counseling next week so maybe that will help? I’m definitely feeling more stressed than ever before, feeling pulled in so many directions. I ended up crying on the phone to the hospital when they changed my mother’s appointments after I had completely rearranged my life so I could get her there. The woman on the phone was unbelievably sweet but I can just imagine what she thought.

I often think about my brother and wonder what he would think of all this. I miss being able to talk with him and vent. My sister has been as good of a help as she can be, but Phil would help us find he humor in all of this. I’m trying to do that.  Like guessing which cupboard my  mother will put the peanut butter in. Yesterday was the refrigerator so I got that one wrong! And at least now there are as many humans in the house as there are cats!

alzheimers-nurse-humor

We are working on a plan for when Mom’s health changes. But that takes time. I’ve already waded through piles of paperwork, nurse and social worker visits, and there’s still more to be done. Do I want my mom to stay with us? Yes. Most days. I love her and I’m really trying to do what’s best for her. But I also know that I need to have boundaries. My family needs those boundaries. When Mom’s mental and/or physical health gets to a certain point, then another move will have to happen. In the end, I know I need to do what’s best for me and my family. I just hope I’ll know what that is when the time comes.