Wednesday, November 6, 2013

It's Been a Long Day

(original 2011)

It seems like a year ago, in reality, just 14 days ago. We were in Brookings, the morning started off with a bang. Literally. When I got up from sleeping and knocked over the ancient metal TV tray onto the floor. Oh my gosh. It made such a loud noise, startled my son Tom sleeping on the other side of the room, yelling out as if he was protecting the place, "H E Y !!!!!". Oh my gosh, I can't stop laughing every time I think about it.

A few minutes to write is what I need. Please, just a few minutes for me all to myself.

Dad slept in the guest room that last night in his home with his big and black cat 'Hey, Kitty' keeping him company. Sleeping in the guest room because his own bedroom furniture is loaded on the truck.

Tom took off later that morning in the U-Haul truck with more stuff than would fit into Dad's new place. I know, because some of it is still waiting in my garage for me to sort through. Everything left behind at Dad's home will be thrown away or cleaned up with the help of his realtor, sold at an 'estate' sale, and the check sent to Dad. That was a good reply for him asking about this or that, "Let Chris sell it and she'll send you a check for it".

I wondered then how long Dad would be able to hang onto this 'independent' living status of his. His vision loss has deeply affected his lifestyle. He can't read a menu, he tells me food on his plate is a blur, and knows the fork from the spoon only by touch. Even as I sit across the table at dinner, I'm just a blur. He is able to see long distance a bit better, able to recognize buildings and other landmarks, stop signs when he's riding on his scooter. He can sign his name by memory, when I put the pen on the paper; he can't see where to write at all. He can't see that with all the weight he's lost, his clothes are hanging on him. He couldn't even see the ants in his drink last night. When I pointed them out to him and offered to get him a new drink, he yelled at me, "I'M not throwing away a perfectly good drink! I can't see them anyway", noting as he finished it off. Jeez, what can I say?

It's certainly been a difficult move for dad. After spending quite a bit of time with him, I dont doubt it's a good move. Oh, he still regales anyone who will listen with his stories of building the Brookings port, and starting the Elks Travel Club, and his four years in a POW camp after being captured at Wake Island. He can tell those stories four times in a ten minute span, and each time, it's the first time for him. For many of his listeners, it gets old fast.

I guess we're all doing our best. He is. I am. The kids and grand-kids are. I guess best has to be good enough. Because he is NOT making it in independent living. Too many of us know now that he can't do that any longer. He gets lost when he leaves his place. So now he won't leave much. He put his wallet in a safe place, and then lost it for two days until he found it in his freezer when he opened it up to get ice for his nightly Manhattan. The neighbors are worried about him, and so am I.

So, next week he moves again to assisted living/memory care. He doesn't know yet. That's the conversation we get to have on Monday. I lay awake at night wondering if I'm really doing the right thing. He needs someone to take care of him, right? And yet, he could just as easily die in his bed in Brookings as here in Napa.

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