This picture – this is what my head feels like. At all times. I’m tired. Exhausted. I cannot turn my mind off. Ever.
Taking care of your elderly parents is hard. You are now the parent. They don’t really like that, but they get it. You are the decision maker. Period. The decisions I have had to make – they couldn’t. It’s overwhelming. My Therapist helps me get through it. To help me better understand it. The hard part – this is the norm. I do remember both of my in-laws going through this many years ago. I didn’t know how hard it was. They made it seem easier – OR, I didn’t pay attention. When somebody else is doing it, it is easy to look the other way. If I look around the Friends I have at my age – we are going through this in some way. It’s a whole other world. I feel like I have lost so much control taking care of myself, MY family. I mean, I still am a Mom and Wife. Two of my favorite titles. Right now I suck at both. Which hurts. Really hurts. They don’t get it and they shouldn’t have to. I never want my kid to have to do any of this. Or make the decisions I have had to – good or bad. It’s so much thought. It is a process. A time consuming, life consuming, process.
If you think you have people around to help out – don’t count on it 100%. Ever. Most of the time that does not work. You have to depend on you. Your the one you can count on. Nobody else. That in itself is exhausting. As my Parents live 100 miles away; it’s a commute. A commute that needs/should be done every 2 to 3 weeks. I try to make that time line – every 2 to 3 weeks… Every 2 to 3 weeks. Like clock work. I can do the drive with my eyes closed. I am down to knowing this drive to the minute. Could be the second. It’s just in my blood now.
This is not a complaint. Writing is what makes me aware. It makes me understand. Its just part of the process…
So, a decision was made by my Sister and I about 3 months ago. Our parents need to go into Assisted Living. Assisted Living. Roll that one off of your tongue a couple of times. Hear that – My parents need to go into Assisted Living. That’s a tough one. However, the last few years have been a struggle. Not only for my Sister and I, but obviously, for my Parents. Change. I actually like change. I think that comes from my years in Retail. I always loved the “new” things; the up and coming; the un known; the rule changing. I never really minded that. Most people are not like that though. I think this is really hitting my Sister hard. And my Parents too. They like the house they live in. They have lived there for close to 30 years. But, they are starting to figure out that the little things aren’t so little anymore. Shoveling snow; Mowing the grass; Making sure you are fed; Getting yourself to and from the Doctor; and so much more. The thought process is exhausting; for all. Therefore, this decision has been tough. We really had to just step in and make life changing choices. In the middle of COVID, none the less. Tough stuff.
Becoming my Parents’ POA was odd. Who makes those kind of decisions? The ones for all Health Care and Financial everything. That’s hard stuff. Granted, my Dad had, had this conversation with me a few years back. Well, a few years back he was healthier. He was younger; he didn’t have cancer. Stepping into this is hard. Writing DNR (do not resuscitate) several times, was scary. Knowing their financials is weird. It’s awkward. Explaining to them – how their money is now going to be spent – from now on. Explaining that all of the money they worked very hard for is now going to be distributed so much differently. My Dad feels like he worked hard and now has nothing to show for that. The catch? He knows that this is what he needs for he and my Mom. As I keep bring up my “Dad” in these recent conversations and not my Mom – Well, that is because she is in a rehabilitation clinic. Has been for a few months. Why you ask? Because when my Dad was in the hospital trying to get (cancer) better, my Mom was home, by herself, and fell. She could not get up and my Sister had a weird feeling, drove out there and just like that – walked into the house and found her on the floor – where she had been for a full day and a half. She is a faller. With my Dad losing over 100 pounds due to his cancer, he can not help her get up. He has lost his strength. Another reason why that decision was made. In the Assisted Living facility that they are moving into, there will be people to help, if she falls. My Sister and I feel happy with simply knowing that. Since my Sister is the “local one”. She is the one always trying to figure out the what’s next, on the long list of things. Thank God she will now have help – At all times.
The process was easy. Did I just say that? Easy?? Honestly, I didn’t know how to start the process, but I do have a Friend that works in this business, if you will. She gave me the phone number to get the ball rolling. I started with that. Getting started was odd. I had no idea what to write on most of the questions. 75% of the questions – I guessed at, with my fingers crossed. They did contact me – so I guess I did okay! There were a total of 6 Social Workers we had to deal with and they were ALL GREAT!! We would have had less, but when you are a married couple and you don’t live in the same house – you get your own. With my Mom being in Rehab, she “lived” at a different place; therefore a different Social Worker. They all helped so much!! They were very gracious with the way they spoke about my Sister and I. It is nice to hear that all of the work we have done and are doing has been noticed and is not typical.
Today my husband was off and I worked half the day and we drove to where my Parents live. Today was POA signing. It was weird. My Dad’s hand writing has changed so rapidly. He was struggling to write. He asked if I could help. He held his hand up, with the other hand. Tried to write and that didn’t work. His signature was always the same. Forever. Until now. His fingers looked different. His wedding ring doesn’t fit. My Mom on the other hand was a whole different story. She hasn’t driven in well over 10 years. She does not have an updated drivers license – it expired in 2013. Her passport expired in 2018. The Notary wouldn’t notarize her stuff. Since the drivers license expired more than 6 months ago, she now has to go in. That won’t happen. She can not get around well. My Dads birthday is next month and he needs a new DL this year. Guess who did it online?? ME! Done.
We got to go on a tour of their facility today. It was awesome! We asked so many questions and got the best answers. The residents were so nice and kind. With COVID, the touring was off. Obviously. But we felt welcomed. It really made me feel happy. This is exactly what was supposed to happen. I feel like I don’t have to keep telling myself that now. This is getting real. Real, real.
I went back to my parents house today as I will not be able to come the following weekend, due to a much needed girls weekend. Something that has been in the works for a few months. I got my Mom to sign her last few bits of paperwork. Her writing; watching her struggle to sign her name. The J is off. The N didn’t look like an N. It is so weird. Really hard for a kid to watch. She was always the one to write the checks as a kid. Signed all of your notes for school. Her signature was always the same. Always. My Dad has been doing all of the bill paying, signings, etc. for the last 15, or so years. Now my Sister is doing it for them. This kind of change is just so hard to watch.
As I was at my vanity today, getting ready, I was listening to a podcast and my phone rang. It was my Dad. I hate seeing the phone ring from their house. I like to be the one calling – I will then know nothing is wrong…
Dad: Hi, kiddo. It’s your Dad.
Me: Is everything okay?
Dad: Yes. Don’t think that every time I call you, something is wrong.
Me: Totally smiling…
Dad: I was wondering, do you think we will be able to move ______ into the apartment….
We then went over the yeses and no’s, the layout, what should work, what won’t, etc. I was just so happy that he is thinking. He is wondering. He is nervous, but excited. I can’t wait to bring the UNO cards over and play a few games. I think the weight is getting lifted off of his shoulders.
I was gone for a Girls Weekend last week. I needed a break. From my parents, from my house, work; well, life. I went with my friends. Good Friends. We played on the ocean. The weather was brisk, windy, sunny, rainy… It was just what I needed. On my way there, my Dad’s social worker called. It came up on the screen, in my car. I chose not to answer. My Gals in the car did say, “Do you need to answer that…?” I didn’t want to. I just didn’t. When we got to where we were staying, I immediately listened to the message. I had to call the following morning. All was well, but its so on going. All.The.Time. It seems to not stop. Ever. Did I actually say this is somewhat easy? Bah!
I can now tell my Dad is questioning this whole thing. I called him yesterday on my way to the gym and said, “Dad, I have your 4-Runner sold, the gentleman will be here on Saturday, early.”
Dad: “Oh, okay. You’ve been busy. I will call Willie tomorrow and make an appointment for Saturday.”
Me: “I already made an appointment. We will be going in at Noon. Doe’s that work for you guys?”
Dad: “Geez, you really have this put together. It’s coming up fast. Okay, I will just see you as planned on Saturday. You better get to the gym.”
Just like that, our conversation was over. What is happening is, my Dad is on chemo for his cancer. It is actually helping and he is starting to feel better. My Mom is now home. She is actually doing pretty well. Can get around without her walker, etc. He is feeling good about both of them being home. Both feeling better; and I mean how bad would it be to just stay home. He is thinking they could do it for awhile more. You feel bad about that. But you can’t look back. Forward moving only. My Sister and I know this is what needs to be done. Still. Things have not changed.
This coming weekend is when my Mom and Dad get their assessments done at the facility. The contract is signed, sealed and delivered. It states that yes- you are moving in. My Mom really hasn’t asked questions; well, at least not to me. I am yearning for them to just get moved in and situated. They will end up liking it. I hope. Fingers crossed.
Well, Saturdays tour went very well. My Mom was unable to go, but my Dad LOVED it! I was so happy! My Dad had his assessment and the gal was able to answer a lot of his questions. It was so nice to hear him telling my Mom about it. Prior to us leaving, he had told me that he wanted to celebrate his birthday (coming up in a few days) at his house, because it would be that last time doing that. By him saying that, it made me sad. Him just thinking that. But, I do think all of that has changed. I now want to make sure we do his birthday big – In the new place!!
After all of the commotion and thinking we really are doing the right thing, my Sister contacted me telling me how excited Dad was, talking to her. That’s when you just keep tackling this beast and know that there will be a happy ending.
I will be traveling back to their house this weekend. This is the true start to the packing. My Sister and I will be doing it together. What do you throw away? Is there things you should keep? What will hurt feelings if it doesn’t show up at the new place? Will they know? I will be ordering a dumpster and going to the dump. Not a lot will be going. Or will it? It’s weird. The following weekend will be the actual move! I am excited for that day.
This coming Monday, I will be taking my Dad to a Doctor that specializes in the removal of my Dad’s kind of tumor. We will be road tripin’. Haven’t done this with him for at least 30 years – since high school. I am hoping my Dad’s health will be well enough to be in the car for a long period of time. Fingers crossed!
So, I took my Dad to his appointment on Monday. It was really fun. We weren’t sure what time to for sure leave, so we left 4 hours prior to the appointment. Not smart. I drove 85 the whole way (I’m not proud of that…) and we happened to get there 2 hours early. Oooooopppsss!! I had to improvise. We drove through Cheney, which is where my Son goes to college. I showed my Dad my Son’s old dorm, the PUB, the red turf field, etc. It is something he would have never seen. It was neat. We then went the back way to Spokane. Found the Cancer Care Center – and still had an hour to kill. We drove through Spokane via Division. It had been many, many years since my Dad had been to Spokane, but he could still refer to the city. His mind clearly worked.
On the way, we drove by many trains and big trucks – he told me stories about them. It was cool. I learned a lot.
When it was finally time for us to go into his appointment we were greeted right away and taken back. The Nurse was pretty intense, but knowledgeable. She knew her stuff. Then the Doc came in. She specializes in esophageal and stomach cancers. She had just read my Dads scans. She made things very clear on the next steps. I think that made us feel better. Everything is still “unknown”, if you will; but we did get some answers. We came up with – no surgery, at this point. She could totally tell that my Dad really does not want to do this unless, he has to. She agreed and said, lets keep doing chemo and start radiation. So, that is the next step.
What I was not ready for were the death questions…. You know, like, if I quit doing chemo rightnow, how long do I have to live…? If I don’t want to do radiation, how long do I have to live…? When we got into the car for our trip back, we talked about results, scans, the Doc, etc. We felt good about the visit. However, I did say, geez Dad, why the death questions? I really wasn’t ready for that… He then, simply says, did you notice she couldn’t really answer them…? I ended the conversation.
The next day was the day that we signed the actual move-in contract and my Mom was going to actually take her first tour. She was very hesitant, as this is difficult. Leaving what you know. She also had to do her first assessment. She absolutely loved her new place! Her assessment went very well, too. She is definitely going into it feeling more comfortable.
Before I left to go home, I gave my Dad a list of a few things that needed to get taken care of. One was, take the 4-Runner off of your insurance (we ended up selling the 4-Runner) and call the cable company and transfer everything so you have cable on the day you move. Simple enough. I told him he will need the new address and that when I got to work, Monday morning, I would call him and let him know what it is. On my way to work, he called me. He called to tell me that I did not have to call back with the address, that he had found a pone book and got the address!! Thank God for phone books! I shared his utter happiness. About an hour later, while I was at work, he called again. This time he wanted to tell me that he got the 4-Runner off the insurance and cable is ready to go for this Saturday. He has to be at the new apartment at 12 to 1 – that’s when they will be there. He then said, your Mother and I will be ready to actually move in by then, can we…? I am so very happy they are this excited.
Tomorrow, we move the Parents in. I’m so excited for them. This is their new, new. More than likely, the last place they will ever live…
It is official – the parents are moved into their new apartment. They seem happy. It makes them content. It is easier. For all of us. I finally feel some sort of peace. I don’t feel worry before I call, if I choose not to call… Relief.
There are a few things left to move, but not things that are a “have too”. It happens to be Easter weekend and I told my parents that I would not be coming this weekend. The first one I have decided to stay home. I need to do stuff at MY home. I want to sleep in, in MY bed. I need to rest my head. I want to wake up and have coffee with my Friends that I haven’t been able to have coffee with for a few months. I need a break. I really need a break…
Next step? Get their house ready to sell. That’s a whole other process. But, I’m ready for it. Jesus took the wheel a long time ago… TYJ
So, as a lot of you know, my parents are moving into a Assisted Living facility within the next few weeks. This change is big. Big for all of us. They are moving out of the home they have been in, close to 30 years. Change is good, right?
Today as I was packing their stuff, my Dad asked if I could help him buzz his head. He has noticed that the chemo has gotten to his hair. He brushed it the other day and noticed clumps of hair coming out. I told him, “of course…” I started and realized I really sucked at the clippers. I told him that there for sure was a reason I wasn’t a barber. He laughed. After words he says, “let me do my beard myself.” Of course, he still wants to do his own thing. I let him go to town. One side was better than the other. One hand works better. He made sure I double checked his longs hairs. I got ’em.
Lastly, I was cleaning out my parents’ laundry room. I found this gem. My Mom has this tacked up in her laundry room…? You know, back in the 80’s/90’s when you got the freebie 11X14 print? This is it. Really??!!
I guess we decided it was a denim theme?? Annie & Sami.
It’s Sunday. 2:08pm. I’m still in my pajama’s and my mind is spinning. I have not even thought about a shower. I’m trying to clean, like 14 different things at once. This is normal. Forensic Files is playing in the back ground. This is normal, too… I’m sitting at my computer knowing its time to write. Writing frees me. It gets my thoughts out. They seem to make more sense. I poured myself a glass of wine. I just keep thinking.
One week and one day ago, I got a phone call from my Sister. No biggie, really. But, when I saw that she was calling and before I picked up, something got to me. Why is she calling? Is everything okay? “Hello…” It wasn’t. She simply says, “I think you may want to come home – soon…” Me, “Oh, okay. Why? Is everything okay?” She is getting teary eyed. I can just tell. It scared me. We are in that age of, texting, FB Messaging and not much calling. Not that, that is a good thing, it’s just a thing. I live a couple hours away and due to my job, I told her I will see her Saturday morning. I will come and pick her up. She agreed. Through the week, we made a plan and we’re sticking to it. We had to.
What my Sister called me about was our Dad. He is ill. Has been for awhile. Hates the Doctor. Any Doctor. But he is sick. He has lost 80 pounds since the last time I saw him, which was Mother’s day. Almost 4 months ago. He looks bad. And I mean, BAD… He scared me. His nose looked so weird. Kind-of pointy. I have never seen that before. It made me scared. I felt like I was in the 6th grade again.
My Sister and I held up our end. We were strong. Or were we? We became the parents. When your not, that is hard. We don’t want to be the parents. We still want to be the 6th grader. Our Dad has ALWAYS had our back. Still does. I honestly think he loves the two of us more than anybody on the planet.
I had been praying for this day all week. Reached out to my Prayer Warriors and asked for prayer. Okay – I begged for it. Driving home was fine. I was not scared, just nervous. The Lord had my back, again. I just needed this to go. Good… Right?!
My Dad was mad. And I mean, MAD. I think we were expecting more of a hurt feeling senerio. Nope. The madness was scary. And kind-of weird. He would throw his head back and roll his eyes. Several times.
The history is this. He has always had stomach problems. Always. When we walked in the door, I about lost my breath. He appears to be starving. Literally, starving to death. His skin is grey-ish. Our Dad is almost 7 feet tall. Read that again – Seven Feet Tall. He is a big man. He has never been grossly over weight, just huge. A normal shirt size for him is a 5X. That is normal. If he is lucky, he could fit into a 3X, probably a 2X, now. His bottoms don’t stay up.
Yous ask – what happened? I do know that he has been drinking Ensure’s lately. He told me he is doing this “for extra nutrition…”. He had been telling me this on our weekly conversations. This didn’t make me nervous. When we show up and asked what was going on, why have you lost weight?? He tells us, I have a hard time keeping things down. We ask, Does your stomach hurt? He says, No. After continuous conversation he finally tells us that he feels like his stomach is filled with air and when he eats he feels like he has to burp, but he can’t and then the food comes up. WOW! I mean, What?
After this conversation, my Dad wanted us to do lunch. We went and got a pizza. Family tradition. On the way there my Sister and I were just trying to grasp at what was happening. In that car ride we made a plan. She is going to make the Doctor’s appointments from now on. We decided this because, we could not figure out if he was being honest with us when he tells us he has been going to the Doctor. We found it odd, that his Doctor never questioned a 80 pound weight loss? He says he never said anything. I’m pretty sure he has not been going. Due to the weight loss, my Dad is not driving. Why you ask? He has 0 energy. He couldn’t. My Sister will now be in charge of doing this.
After our Dad ate, he didn’t throw up, but he had to spit out his food. It won’t go down, he said. No nutrition. That’s the weight loss. That’s the no energy. This is what is scary.
We have a plan. We have a Doctor some what in place. Pray for us. This is tough.
It’s a lot. My Sister’s is now homeschooling, too. She has a lot more added to her schedule. It sucks. But what do you do? This is where the respect issue comes in. We want to respect his wishes. But we can see more. We know what he is made of. He’s funny. He’s crazy. But more importantly, he is our Dad. He loves us. We want him to want to live. To get better.
His life decisions have been hard. They still are. We see through it. We want him to be well. Why is that so.damn.hard.?