Monday, May 15, 2017

Million Dollar Question

I heard a meteorologist on the Weather Channel refer to this May as one very cold and rainy one.  No, really?  This has been the most miserable month of May that I can recall in years.  Here in the Northeast, we haven't any guarantees at this time of the year but these past few weeks have been off the charts and everyone, everyone, is if that would change anything.

Yesterday was the one day, after Easter, that I really count on for being sunny and bright.  It wasn't.  It was Mother's Day and it was cold, cloudy and eventually, it became stormy.  A Nor'easter.  Hard to imagine.

Other than the weather, what made yesterday unique, was the presence of my mother-in-law.  She's 102 years old and still going rather "strong" for her age.  Her full-time care provider took a nine day vacation so, before I could censor myself, the words, "have her come here", fell out of my mouth.  That was before my father, a mere 95 years old, landed up in the hospital and then the rehab center for treatment of pneumonia.  His illness came on slowly and defied my attention.  I thought perhaps it was a little cold, a cough, maybe even an allergy when I heard his groggy voice each morning for a week.  Next, a much-anticipated visit from our granddaughters took up my time and my attention and before we all knew it, he was off in an ambulance.  So, it's been child care and elder care since mid-April.

What good is living through a whole day unless you learn something from the hours?  I've had nothing but time to observe the stages of life.  Each day, when I dragged my weary body through the halls at the rehab center which also serves as a skilled nursing facility, I witnessed lives being drained of the juices that had once kept them plumped.  I watched family members putting in time as if they had done something terribly wrong for which they were now being punished.  And I wondered, how much longer would this go on for them?  And each day, I went through the same topics with my father, trying to act as if the questions were brand new and the answers were understood.  Until the next time, sometimes five minutes later, when the litany would restart.  "What's it doing out there?", "
When am I getting out of here?", "Are you coming tomorrow?".  Relentless.  And now, he's home and the same questions get asked over and over.

My husband's mother can't see due to macular degeneration.  She can't hear much, even with a hearing aid.  She has virtually no muscle strength in her arms or legs so she can't walk without assistance, something she does not always seem to grasp, so she requires constant observation and supervision.  She, like my father, has dementia.  Their brain synapses have become rusty.  The thoughts and ideas cross slowly and oftentimes, they go haywire.  It's sad. It won't get any better and I'm told that in my father's case, one day it will accelerate quickly.  He's holding his own for now.  His home is safe and there is very little he can suffer as he shelters-in-place.  But he also needs supervision.

So, yesterday, I spent the day wondering.  When will this all end?  Will we miss them, or have they truly worn out their welcome?  Are we going to be too old to appreciate our "freedom" when it finally does arrive?  Is it okay to resent all of this?  What will next Mother's Day be like?

Who will take care of us one day?  That's the Million Dollar Question.
P.S......for those of you who have been so supportive, in every aspect of my life, especially since my surgery....wait for it......38 pounds!!!  Thank you.

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