October 12, 2009
The shortest 8 weeks on record
Today is transport day. Mother is returning from an eight week stint at my brother’s house in San Jose. The old adage “time flies when you’re having fun” rings painfully true today. It was a very short two months, although we had quite a bit of activity packed into this particular “anti-stint.” We are about as prepared as we can be, knowing what’s in store for us. This is a five week stay. I’ve checked the flight status. Southwest is forecasting a 20 minute delay for a Burbank arrival so far, but it’s not scheduled due for 3 more hours and rain is imminent. By evening’s end the plane will be 2 hours late I’m predicting. Yes we need the rain, but geez Louise. Monday night football is on so there will be amusement while I wait, but I might need to draw on my home equity line to pay the bar tab for that pricey airport beer.
Things are beginning to evolve, or rather devolve. My brother reports that mother has shown no improvement, and has perhaps lost ground these past weeks despite the addition of Namenda to her regimen. We weren’t expecting any major breakthrough I guess, but we were hopeful. To be fair, it’s a forest for the trees situation for my brother at week eight. The only thing he really sees right now is a departure gate. So I will evaluate with a fresh set of eyes and see what, if anything, has changed.
The landscape is definitely changing. My brother’s wife has an aging mother herself, in her 80’s who has been quite self reliant until recently. It will not be long before they will have to take her aboard which means the “sharing’ of mother will come to an end, most likely in January. They can’t possibly deal with two demented elders simultaneously, especially with teenage girls in the house.
This puts mother squarely on our shoulders. I have been fortunate in that my business travels have been limited and that my wife could supervise while I was away. But I’m starting to travel more now as my employer has landed new Contracts that require more on site involvement, potentially on the east coast. My wife has obligations as well, in addition to the entitlement of her own life. Mother simply cannot be left alone. My brother’s sharing arrangement made it possible for all of us to plan for most situations. That flexibility is about to vaporize.
My wife did some footwork last year investigating the local assisted living facilities. Because of mother’s condition the options are more limited but she has located some facilities nearby that sound less “institutional” and more “apartment” like. She also investigated group homes as a possibility. They are potentially more restrictive, but much more homey. Now the ball is in my court to follow up on her efforts.
I’m sure I’ll get a feel for mother’s status this evening as she settles in, but it will take a few days to see how much ground has really been lost. I dread the thought of what is probably going to transpire in the next few months.
My brother and I endured the difficult task of packing up her home of 40 years after dad died in 2005. She really couldn’t do it herself and was little help in deciding what to keep and what had to go. Her heart wasn’t in it and who could blame her. We transported her treasures here to our house. Now I don’t think she knows what most of them are anymore.
This scenario will play out once more as we move her treasures again, this time out, instead of in. I dread the day. I dread the look that I know that I will see in her eyes when I have to tell her.
I rationalize that she will be amongst a group of her peers, and she is sociable. I note her smiles and happy attitude when she spends time at the local senior center. I note her willingness to strike up a conversation with her peers on airplanes and at the grocery store that we visit each Sunday.
I’m convinced she will have more opportunity for friendship than she has living with us, where the days for her can be one long crossword puzzle.
But she will have lost what little control of her life remains. She will hate it, and so will I, she is afterall my mom. But it must be. I need control of my life too.
Copyright 2009 Patrick Granfors