Adventures and Misadventures

The last six months have been brutal, the word defined online as “punishingly hard or uncomfortable, unrelenting”.

In September, I flew to Oregon for three days with the goal of driving a friend in her SUV across country.  She sold her house and wanted to relocate somewhere in Florida.  The trip across country took us from Portland, Oregon, through Tehachapi, California and Las Vegas, with a side trip off I40 to the Grand Canyon, which neither of us had seen.  The Grand Canyon is breathtaking, a gift of nature, so serene and peaceful. In spite of people from all over the world cramming around the viewpoints, there is still a sense of being alone and a connection with the wind, the birds and the sky.

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The friend from Oregon has moved on to other adventures but not before stealing items of financial and sentimental value from my household.  I believe God puts stumbling blocks in our life to test us.  All I can say is that I can forgive but not forget. It is a shock to be deceived but there is a sense of relief to now go forward and be surrounded by good, Christian friends with values.

As posted earlier, my sweet Border Collie, River, passed away in October.  Do we ever forget our old dogs? There haven’t been any severe thunder and lightning storms since he died.  This past week Pensacola had a momentary storm and I saw one streak of lightning.  My two Border Collies stayed by my side, obviously nervous but in control.  My thoughts turned to River, who became obsessive during storms, trying to outrun, hide, and dig behind walls to get away from the thunder and lightning.  He too is now at peace.

My parents lived for the past nine months in an Assisted Living Home (ALH), after residing in their house for over thirty years.  But mom kept on having falls at the ALH, which at one point necessitated a trip to the emergency room.  One thing led to another, as these things go with seniors with Alzheimer’s.  She spent a few days in the hospital recovering from her bruises and was released to another nursing home for rehabilitation.  This meant I was called out in the middle of the night to be with mom in the ER, or running here and there looking for just the right rehab facility.  My payment was contracting the flu, which I haven’t had in years.  That meant mom was alone in the rehab home for over two weeks.

Rehab or nursing homes are extremely depressing places, nothing more than holding facilities for the elderly who are dying or near death.  Mom’s Sundowner’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and ramblings about suicide were easily controlled by the staff, in my humble opinion, with heavy medication. She became a zombie, a shadow of the woman who the week before, was able to carry on a conversation.  The facility suggested she stay there permanently.  Dad was alone in the ALH, about ten miles away, believing that his wife had died and everyone was lying to him.  My dilemma was: should I pay $6000/month for one parent to remain in a nursing home and $3800/month for another to stay in an ALH or try to keep them together? The rehab facility was not happy to see money flying out the door and I sensed a negative pull from them when I said she wasn’t staying there.  But, on the day I was to bring her back to the ALH, the staff there said she was too far gone to return.  For a second slap in my face the rehab facility said I had 48 hours to get mom out or I’d be charged $200/day!

Within twenty-four hours I moved both of them to a retirement home nearby.  That particular place is woefully unprepared for seniors with any kind of mental incapacity, so within forty-eight hours I moved my parents a half mile down the same road to a “Memory Care” facility.  Whew.  I was exhausted.  My parent’s money was flying hither and yon. They were and still are, confused about where they are. But now they are each in separate, small, homey buildings being cared for as best as can be expected. They are not together, as mom needs more help with her Alzheimer’s than dad with his dementia.  But they are within walking distance from each other.  Mom is off her “zombie” drugs but the falls, the drugs and the moves took a toll on her health.  Dad is still “The Controller”, trying to take charge of his environment and the people he comes in contact with daily.  He’s bored, as any type-A person would be with nothing to do. He wants to come home.  Every visit turns into a guilt trip he plays with me.

Yesterday, driving home from a Christmas party in Mom’s building, I felt drained.  The Door’s 60’s song, Light My Fire, was just starting to play on my car’s radio.  I turned it up as loud as I could stand, washing myself with memories of the time period when that song originated.  Who knew back in the 60’s, when I was in college, carefree, my life in front of me, that I would be the caretaker, the guide, the director of my parent’s lives.  If I’d known then what I know now, I’d have saved some of the marijuana going around college for now, when I really need it!!

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