Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Roll With the Changes

Sunday we went on a family bike ride. Monday and Tuesday we went to the gym so I could workout and then went to the pool with the kids for the afternoon. It feels like a normal life again. Except for the poolside calls from the Visiting Nurses about my father's prescriptions and feeding tube meter rate. But maybe this is what normal life is going to be like for a while.

My siblings and I are all in better contact than we have been in years. Emailing on our yahoo group, calling each other, laughing over my mother's foibles, worrying about my father making it to another winter in such an unsafe winter place. Their decline has brought at least the sisters closer together. My brother remains on the fringes, probably unsure how to proceed. He was against my father having the feeding tube put in and is processing that change in plans. Plus, he's really the farthest away and more detached emotionally.

I'm trying to cram in as many fun things for the kids as possible before the next crisis strikes. Today we are headed to the Museum of Science and Industry for a day of fun. Mark is taking them to Peoria to see his Mom over the weekend while I head back to my parents. My brother in law is there this week, working his shifts at Northwestern's ER and taking care of them instead of sleeping. After that, my parents are going to adjust to having just me there twice a week - once with the kids and once on the weekend without them. I've pared down our fall schedule to just dance and possibly swim team to make it easier to trek out to Indiana. It's a $25 rounds trip gas bite, so our options on museum memberships and classes are slimmed considerably.

Kids are so adaptable, though. They aren't bothered by going to the beach more often, at least not in summer. And they love all their grandparents. They were especially thrilled to meet their Great Uncle Terry from England a few days ago for the first time. They don't remember my parents ever being young. They don't remember that my father held and burped the first 6 grandchildren, but no longer was able to for the last four. I hope they remember how we took care of my parents in their declining years and the love it takes to continue on.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Home Again

It's an uphill battle, particularly in two pairs of crocs! I came home a few days ago, went back to my parents to visit with an uncle who came in from England for a last visit with my father, and then returned again. I've slept a few good nights, cleaned a thin layer of grime from floors and counter tops and am now contemplating restoring our gardens.

It's strange, this reintroduction to my normal life. I feel as if I've been in a time warp for the past few weeks. While my father is improving physically in many ways, he still has little to no voice. Communication is frustrating and painful, he's taken to writing a few things out on a white board or note pad.

He did have a good visit with his younger half-brother, they shared many things about their lives, bragged about their grandchildren and made connections they hadn't made in the past. They weren't raised together, they shared a father, but my father was away at boarding school when my uncle was born. He didn't learn of my dad's existence until he was 11 or so and my father graduated with his PhD. The 1930s were difficult time to be divorced in England. They've grown closer over the years and I know my uncle was pleased he made the trip out. My father really rallied his strength over the three day visit to speak, get dressed and be sociable.

My brother-in-law, the doctor and favorite child, is with them now. He will be administering the antibiotic on schedule and working his shifts at Northwestern's ER. I'll go back out in a week's time, after getting some rest. And allowing my mother to get some rest from me. My sister came from New York for the latter part of last week. We are all pitching in as best we can, this whole miserable decline has really brought us closer together as siblings.

I need to learn to balance my responsibilities better, must get more organized. I have my calendar now on Google, so I can access it from any computer. Cell phone access might be better. And I need to learn to be as patient with my children as I am with my mother. Not being very good at temperance, I've surprised myself with my ability not to argue with her unreasonableness and work with her dementia to get simple tasks accomplished. I think it's possible that you never realize how much you love your parents until they are dying.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Can't knit

I can't remember being unable to knit. Except when the furnace went out and it was too cold in the house to knit. It's always been my stand by diversion, my fill in stress reliever, my tension tamer. Now I just can't do it. I look at the poor socks languishing since a week ago when my Dad went into the hospital and can't bring myself to pick them up. Unbelievable.

I haven't seen my kids in a week. I've never been away from my kids this long before. The longest was 36 hours when Large and Medium were 6 and 18 months. It's a very strange feeling to go from doing everything together, to doing nothing together. I miss them and Mark terribly.

The very same day my Dad went into the hospital, three other physical injuries occurred in my family. My oldest sister was in a cab accident on her way home from the airport, broke her nose and needed 8 stitches. Small had a run in with a bike and hasn't walked since, he has a sprain. I fell off a ledge killing bugs and sprained my good ankle. It's a full foot bruise. I just had it x-rayed, nothing is broken, but the doctor gave me a nifty new air cast, which gives me a lot of support and makes walking this enormous house easier.

The good news is that I was able to get away to have it looked at. The nurses and doctors asked why it took me a week to get it examined. I told them. Everyone has been here, in this middling, sandwiched position with young and old to tend to. Everyone looses themselves in the process. It's all about priorities, right?