She was there. My Pops had just been transferred from the hospital to enter the uncertain life as a nursing home resident. In the short span of his first week he was busted from the fifth floor to the fourth because he needed additional looking after. Which I learned really meant that my dad in his confusion would sometimes enter other patients rooms and well, wreak havoc. He didn’t mean any harm but nonetheless disturbances of any kind can have a very negative effect on the frail and/ or elderly who are just trying to have a little peace in their lives. I wasn’t happy the staff wanted to move my Pops but I understood so with minimal crabbing from me I helped the CNA move my dad to his new digs. She was there.
Our first meeting is difficult for me to recall, not because I have memory issues but more from the level of stress I hadn’t yet sorted out. Everything that was happening to Dad and I still hadn’t sunken into my thought process. I was feeling so overwhelmed and beaten. I felt numb. She was there. Her name is Kathy. Her hubby was one of the residents at my Dad’s new “home”. She was friendly and talkative. I felt comfortable in her presence from that first moment. She showed me around the fourth floor and gave me a few pointers about the staff, the meal times, how to control the heat in Dad’s room, where to find extra linens. By reaching out to me she changed that moment of fear for me. I relaxed a little and I felt a wave of relief I was sure was never going to come.
I am sure she has no idea how much that day changed me. It changed the way I view my Dad’s living situation. It changed the way I am towards other people who have loved ones suffering from illnesses and dementia. Even though each of our battles are unique to us we are all in the same war; fighting to give our loved one the best “rest of their lives”. My Pops was only at his first nursing home for two weeks when a bed became available closer to my home in a better environment. I jumped at the opportunity. I am not sorry that I moved Pops. We are both happier and healthier now. Kathy’s hubby has moved as well into a better living arrangement. I couldn’t be happier for them both.
Kathy and I keep in touch as much as possible, gotta love the interwebs, and today we went to lunch. I had a wonderful time. Thank you Kathy for being the light of hope I needed so badly that day. Never forget that one person can change the world. Never underestimate what you mean to someone else.
Trish = )
I haven’t written a post in quite some time. I told myself I need some time off to regroup and enjoy my summer. As many of you know I had to place my Pops into a nursing home. Never an easy decision to make. The paperwork long,tedious and intrusive. I have always resisted placing my Pops because I didn’t want to lose him to the system. I have already lost more than I have ever imagined I would. My kid sister and my mother passed away. I have an older sister that I am not close to (my choice). I have distanced myself from her children as well. I can not live with their baggage and try to fix my baggage as well. Growing up in a dysfunctional family environment with no set coping skills will do that for you. My family’s way of getting through tough things together usually involved more yelling than conversation and lots of name calling and blame throwing. Counter productive to say the least. Not a real esteem builder either. I had to learn to accept and like myself on my terms.
I took the summer off from writing so I could find a way to set myself free from feeling guilty about what happened to Pops and I. I have not been handling our new living arrangement well at all. There are things about it I really like. I no longer have to meal plan for him or assist him in his bath. I get to eat supper with hubby every night and mostly I don’t have to worry Pops might roll away from his apartment for places unknown.
Do you have any idea how hard it has been for me to let go? Who is this man,that can’t remember my mother’s name? or that my kid sister had red hair? or that they both died too young and tragically? For my Pops it is a blessing but for me it is a curse. It only increases my sadness not dispels it. Who is this man? Dementia has changed everything about him I knew. This man is my Pops. I love him. I cry for the people he no longer remembers to miss. I cry for all that we have lost. I cry because even though I see him whenever I can I MISS the man he used to be.
You tell me. I hate what this disease has turned me into. What it has turned my Pops into. The façade I put up for people keeps me safe; keeps them at arms length. I struggle everyday with the possibility that someone will find out I am a lie. I don’t have all of the answers. I am more lost than found. My heart torn into so many little pieces I am losing track of the last day I felt whole. I would walk away from my life if I knew it meant distancing myself from anymore sadness,pain and disappointment. But how do you walk away from those you love? What kind of a person would I be if I jumped ship just as soon as another deck hand was needed?
I skipped going to see Dad on Mother’s Day because I knew his nursing home would be overflowing with guilty children trying to cram a years worth of visits into that one special day. I went to see Dad this afternoon. I should have just stayed home. All the fresh laundry I brought to him on Saturday gone from his closet. I know things like this happen but everything? Really?
I can’t ask Dad what happened to his stuff. He doesn’t know. He exists in that world of zero accountability. I am just supposed to accept it, laugh it off and move on to the next topic. More often than not I feel frustrated after our visits. Like a carnival ride I can’t get off of.
We are a jigsaw puzzle with key pieces missing. We hold onto the box, our work in progress hoping that one day what is missing will be found. The problem? Dementia reshapes the pieces. The puzzle constantly changing. Only the edges are complete.
If I stopped going to see him would he even know? Could I live with myself? sleep at night? probably not. I go for him as much as I go for myself. He is all I have left of the family I once knew. In his smile I see the beauty of our family. It is there in his eyes I see the love he has for me. The trust he has given me. He believes in me. I used to look at him in that same way when I was a child.
For him I am brave. For him I try not to be lost. For him I would give all that I am.