The Summer Flies By and Memories?


The Summer Flies By and Memories?

butterfly-169924_640I am in the middle of my summer already and the pressure of going back to work seems to be creeping up on me! Lately, the talk in my head and with AH has been about how we are really "done" or not?!? We say, "done" meaning that the time has come when we can no longer be effective in caregiving for Elly in her home. The things that usually bring us to this point, again and again, are usually, the mean-spirited, controlling actions that Elly makes towards us and the greatgrand-kids. We are all adults - even the greatgrand-kids except MyNiece who is 15 years old. We continue to encourage each other in "picking the battles" but at times we disagree about how we "picked"!!! Elly continues to discourage our caregiving efforts and refuses to accept or ask for help. She is the stoic, through and through!

There are some family dynamics that have occurred recently. Elly's sister passed away about two weeks ago. The memories Elly has of this younger sister is that she always got her way and the whole family had to give in to her. I had the audacity to remind Elly that this was over 90 years ago and that I was sure there were better memories! Elly usually talks about how she really wanted her sister to be her friend, not just a sister. I just have to bite my tongue every time this conversation comes up! None of her siblings will call Elly just to talk, like friends. Elly is the eldest and mothered (controlled) them all through the years, still does in the conversations I have heard on the phone. Only two siblings live in California, none close by! It is exhausting to try to help spin the negative comments to something better!

I was gone for about 5 days because of a train trip I took with my MotherinLaw who is losing her eyesight and has some trouble walking. I was a Companion/Caregiver as we rode the train to Oregon (about 15 hours). MotherinLaw grew up in Oregon and we went to visit her nephew who is the family historian. The memories that MotherinLaw shares have so many more positives and fun stories! I even got AH on a video chat so he could see the old pictures and hear the stories his mom was retelling! We drove around the town MotherinLaw grew up in while she pointed out the store, the church, or where the house was that she lived in. We did a lot of sitting in the car riding around for hours and hours in the two full days we had with the nephew. I enjoyed seeing the rain again as well as seeing my MotherinLaw so happy. The train trip was great and we had a great time.

While I was gone, we had a young lady from church come to take care of Elly's legs. This young lady usually cleans houses for a living but I felt she had the right spirit/heart for Elly. She and her young daughter fell in love with Elly and cared very well for her. AH was very happy that it worked out and said that he did have a good week with Elly while I was gone. AH came home early every day from work and made dinner. He made notes on the white board near the refrigerator so Elly knew what he was going to fix. Elly doesn't believe that Men can really cook so AH made sure she understood that he was going to work on his cooking while I was gone. She honored his request!

By the time I came home on Friday, the magic had left! The attitude had turned and I found a grumpy, controlling Elly. She said that she had a bad week with her sister dying, her brother is in a Home after a mental breakdown and she'd lost her hearing aids. It seems that Elly's watch had stopped and she needed a new battery. She called her GreatGrandson from next door to have him get a new battery for it. He said he would do it but didn't for several days - Elly complained about this to AH all week. This young man is having issues figuring out how to be a successful adult and Elly felt like it was time for her teach him something. So, let's just say that it didn't go well. Elly got frustrated and upset. She used some very disparaging remarks in talking about GreatGrandson to AH in talking about the situation. She was so mean that AH couldn't let it go and "got in her grill". Once he was done, I calmly let Elly know that I thought AH was right.

We left right after that for our Friday night service project and came home late. We were quite busy with the yard watering and chores on Saturday. Elly was fairly quiet and did a lot of reading. I made a nice shrimp dinner which she really likes and she was still pretty quiet and reserved. Sunday, Elly refused to let me attend to her legs. I explained that I wouldn't argue with her but pointed out the spots that could turn into wounds if I did not wash, moisturize and wrap her legs. She insisted that she needed and deserved a day off. After we came home from church, she wouldn't go next door to join us for Sunday Lunch. It was the older GreatGrandson's birthday lunch celebration. She sent a card but refused to go. We call Elly's behavior "push back" to punish us for standing up to her.

So, it is difficult to say we are "done" because we know we can't change Elly's behavior. I talked with Elly two weeks ago about how we try to communicate with her and not change a whole lot of things since this is her home. She snapped at me then, so I pointed out that she has never had to live with strangers/roommates and that living with her siblings was totally different 90 years ago than living with us today. We do dance around her since it really doesn't matter if she locks up the house at night before we are done going in and out - we just undo it after she goes to bed! We try to manipulate the dishwasher cycles but we haven't been successful lately. I usually clean the floors after she goes to bed- sometimes after 10pm because she goes to bed late. Why is this so necessary, it's for our sanity! Elly will make all kinds of comments (not all nice) if she sees me working. It is easier to live with her if we work "around" her. She has not "aged gracefully".

I hate to be so negative but this is my outlet, just for here. My memories of Elly after she passes will be the positive ones! We will laugh and create the positive memories to erase the negative that we live in now. Just as we are protecting the other family members from the mean spirited conversations we've heard over the last 4 years, our kids will have their own memories and my positive ones to pass along.

I sometimes wonder if there is dementia to blame for some of this or if this personality trait has always existed and my mind as a youngster was protected from seeing this!? Would a diagnosis of dementia be comforting? AH feels she really knows what she is doing but has short term memory issues. Maybe I could also understand how my mother could remove herself from the family if she had been subjected to this kind of behavior by my grandmother all along. This is no excuse for my mother's behavior nor Elly's. The unhealthy way my mother chose to deal with Elly has removed my mother from my life for the past 28 years. AH and I really want to make sure we take away any lessons that God may be showing us from this experience and not give up too soon. That being said, it is time to make that appointment with the two Care facilities we would want to place Elly into when/if the time comes. There may be a waiting list and that would be okay. I have more musings about how hard it would be to move Elly and deal with her stuff but this is enough for today! Thanks for your gracious nods of understanding!

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