Wrapping Things Up

Goldie

Wrapping Things Up

Goldie
Why does it take so long for the roller coaster to stop after our caregiving days are over? I put off making plans with a new friend until the very last second because I didn't want something to come up and have to cancel. We know how that goes, right? No matter how much we try to organize and get things done ahead of time, there is no time we can really, truly call our own. One phone call and all our plans change.

It's taken me six months to finally realize my caregiving days are over for now. Mom is still living at the same assisted living center in Colorado, but my family and I have moved to New England. The timing was awkward as my Dad passed last November and we moved in February, leaving Mom alone in Colorado with none of my siblings living in state. She was not pleased.

But then, I should start a little bit before this.

Dad started declining more rapidly last summer. He rarely got up out of his chair, never went to the dining room, and he slept most of the time. He was visibly losing weight again and he was having more angina attacks. It was clear he would either just not wake up one day or we would need to look for a place where he could receive more care. My sibs came out to visit. We talked together about the next step and my sister and I toured several nursing homes.

Mom was becoming increasingly anxious about Dad's health and, as has always been her way, she expressed her anxiety through anger. She made fun of Dad's memory issues and deafness in a derisive way as though he was preventing her from enjoying life. To be fair, she was terrified of being without him and being alone. She was used to having Dad as her servant, good and true. How would she manage without him? She was angry with him for being old and sick and dying.  I know that's not abnormal, but this was my dad! I was not very understanding. How dare she say those things about Dad when he took care of her so graciously when she became psychotic!

Dad was still in love with her and he made sure I did not forget.

At the same time, we were finding it a challenge to make ends meet in Colorado. Housing prices had skyrocketed and so had homeowner's insurance. While we were still paying all our bills on time, we had little left for day to day expenses. There was nothing left for anything extra, like going to the dentist. After debating various possible solutions, one stood out. We could take advantage of the housing market, sell our house, and move someplace where we could use the proceeds of our sale to buy a house outright.

The reactions of the family were as follows: our kids - "We're in! We're coming with you!"  my sibs: "You've done more than your fair share. Go for it! We'll take care of Mom" (!), Dad: "That's nice" Mom: "It's not going to work out like you think it will. Moving is not a good idea. It would be nice if you'd taken other people into account before you decided this." My cousin, Jane: "It's about goddamn time!"

Which meant I went back and forth between guilt, excitement, fatigue, relief, and anxiety. Regardless, we plowed ahead. We made plans to go out and visit our son and daughter-in-law in Maine for Thanksgiving and then take a week to visit Western Massachusetts. Our flight was to leave on November 15.

Dad was getting weaker and weaker. My siblings all came out again in October and early November. They came from California, Texas, and Kansas.

(And here I'll leave it for now - not meaning to leave a cliffhanger, I can only write about this in bits. It's exhausting, even now, to relive this time. More tomorrow. I promise.)