Thursday, April 7, 2011

Trust me, you should think about your answer.

It's always a little harder for me after I've been here for two weeks already. That seems to be when the homesickness starts to kick in.

I had a bad night Monday night, and then Tuesday morning, I was a mess. I realized that the housekeepers (yes, we have housekeepers. I know it's ridiculous, but would you want to put two people out of a job just because you can clean the house yourself, when you don't even want to?) had put one of my vibrams into a box of stuff that is still in the bedroom waiting to be sorted. I keep saying to it, "You've got to get yourself sorted," but it doesn't comply.

One of my vibrams was in the box. I pawed through some kind of slippery drape-like fabric, pairs of socks, plastic sock clips to keep them from getting separated in the wash, address books, pens, and soon I was dumping it all over the floor. No vibram. So, I put everything back, piece by piece. No shoe.

I dumped it out again. By this time, I was sitting on the bedroom floor in my T-shirt and black leggings and crying as I sorted through all this crap a second time. Where could they be? I looked into the box next to it. Office supplies and old calendars. So, I went downstairs, came back up, looked in the bathroom, tore apart the bed, looked in every bag in the room. No shoe.

By this time, the Certified Nurse's Aide (CNA) was here to help my dad with his shower. I didn't want  him to see me crying, so while he was in the bathroom shaving my dad's face and chatting about the most horrible final game in NCAA history (also, sadly, probably the last basketball game he'll ever watch. I can't grasp that), I slipped out through the laundry room, into the garage, grabbed my smokes and a lighter and went to the front porch to smoke and cry for awhile more.

Eventually I went inside, made coffee, and found the vibram in one of the white garbage bags standing in the bedroom, ready to go to Deseret Industries. Why on earth wouldn't they put them in the same place? Of course, they don't look like shoes, so I can see why maybe they might have thought I wanted to get rid of them. The ladies are upstairs cleaning right now. Before they came, I hid my Vibrams in my laptop bag.

Part of my grumpiness on Tuesday was due to the fact that my dad and I were sort of bickering all day Monday about my mom. He spoke to a friend of his on Tuesday morning after the CNA left. He got off the phone and said, "Ken's worried about how you guys will manage your mom."

"Great. Thanks, Dad. I appreciate all of the votes of confidence we're getting on this. I'm worried about it too, but do you have any better suggestions?"

There are things about this experience that I am not blogging about. I don't write about my brother's experience with all of this, his complicated family dynamics, his persistent exhaustion after the stroke, his medical bills, how much his six-year-old has been missing him. My brother is also a writer, and he is working on his own story, albeit more privately. He is not, as he called me once jokingly, "a walking, talking blog."

Heather is writing a bit of her version of all of this here. And that post I linked to made me cry when I read it because I miss my children so much, and I am giving up, so far, a quarter of a year that I was supposed to have with them. And when I start to think of a) how much I've given up in order to be able to have that time with them and b) how I cannot get it back, I get very, very, very, righteously angry.

This is one of the main reasons I haven't yet returned Ryan's calls at Sunrise. I passed the buck to Matt.

I am also not blogging about some family dynamics and relationships because they are too private. This blog is published in real time. It's not like a book that can point to something in the past, when there has been time for resolution and healing. Or when you know the repurcussions and conclusions and how this all plays out so you know what would be important to include and what would be unnecessarily meddlesome and melodramatic.

I am also not blogging in great detail about money. But it's something I must address at least a little. One way of looking at my brother's and my ability to come out here and spend months caring for our father is that we are both fuckups without real lives, so it was easy for us to drift out here to do this. Well, we are not fuckups and we do have real lives and jobs.

I took off time from work until March. Then I started to realize that not only would it be a welcome distraction and make me feel less like I was in limbo. Also? We all like eating, shoes, and real beds. So, I had to start bringing in some income. My brother works when he goes home, on top of doctor's appointments and trying to help out with the kids, who are Heather's sole responsibility when Matt is here, and keeping up with everything going on out here. But we have also been letting our father support us when we are out here. While I am here, I buy groceries with my dad's Visa, and I pay the bills with his checkbook. If I need cash, I get it from his account. Same with Matt. In fact, my card started getting refused (well, okay, Pat's card) because Visa was baffled about why there were charges in so many different places. I had to call Visa and put my dad on the phone to authorize our using it.

So, my dad is supporting himself and whomever is living with him at the time, providing some financial assistance when we go home (and paying for our transportation to and from), paying medical bills, buying groceries, continuing insurance and housing memberships he probably won't get to use, as well as paying for my mother's nursing home. Which is exponentially expensive, and does not include: Her beauty salon visits (including manis and pedis), her new glasses, her medications, her bank account, or all of the supplies she needs constantly. So, that brings our monthly bill for my mother to about $5K a month. It's gauche to talk about money, but useless not to in this circumstance.

So, for the nursing home to want to move her yet again and increase that bill by $300 a month-- we are already pouring out more than my poor dad is bringing in. So far, even though I've been working, I haven't sent a single invoice for 2011. And I still have bills I'm paying at home with savings.

So, what would you do? Would you keep your mother in the crappy, expensive nursing home and know that you will run out of money before your father dies and be living only on credit (which will kill him)? Or would you find another nursing home that could save you $1000 a month. That still will not solve your financial woes. You will not be able to afford a nursing home for your mother while your father is still alive. In-home nursing care? Too much. Putting them both in a nursing home and closing up the house? Well, you would have to get your cognizant father to agree to that one. Would you put her in the really shitty, bare-bones assisted living place right up the road? Or would you bring her home and enroll her in the daycare that is even closer. And make as many trips to the liquor and tobacco store as it takes to get you all through this.

Dereck tells me he has never heard of anybody doing what we are doing, both siblings taking turns for this length of time to care for their parents. I don't know that I've heard of it either, but honestly, I am just doing what it seems to me are our best options. However, sometimes if I find a solution that appears to be working, I stop searching for better ones. I nursed my kids and co-slept because I couldn't bring myself to let them cry. I regret that, but honestly, at the time, maybe it was because of all the hippy books I was reading, I didn't realize that I had other options that might have made my life a little easier and have made me a little less nuts. Is that what is going on now?

What on earth do other people do?

What are YOU going to do?


  1. No advice here, at least no useful words. I'm still stuck back on the rightously angry part, perhaps because I have so much of it regarding the whole situation. It's spurred some chat at the Manor about having the Longterm Plan, so that's productive.
    I'm starting the countdown to when you two will trade off and we will again be without. No wallowing here, nope.

  2. In the decline of my great-grandmother and later my great-aunt, my grandmother was fortunate to have her youngest daughter's family move in with them because of financial problems of their own. Brad went to work, Gran was working part-time, and Karen took care of Granny G and Max. It was good to have them home as long as possible, but when Granny G's dementia got to the point that she physically attacked Karen, she went to a lockdown unit. She didn't last long (she was also 92). Max was Alzheimer's and was at home until the end. Gran and Karen learned to bathe her, care for her diabetes, change her. Home health and later hospice came in on a regular basis, but Gran and Karen were it, and it exhausted them both.

    So, that's one side of "what do other people do" for you. Your mileage may vary.

  3. I can't remember what I wrote in my letter, but I do remember mentioning the fact that our grandmother lived with us for over a year when I was in junior high. I would think twice about moving your mom and dad back to MO with you, as it is SO HARD on the kids. You don't realize it, but it really is. If it's just Pat and she's in a home in MO, no big deal. But living with you guys...ugh.

    I guess it all boils down to how much longer your dad has, and no one really wants to speculate, right? Do what seems to be kindest to all of you, I guess.