Monday, October 27, 2008

Mom, if dad dies, will you follow?

We are very close to our children.
All three live in the same state and at most are 25 minutes away from us.

They often share their concerns with me as to our departure
from this scenario called living.

All three are concerned that if dad goes mom will follow within months.
Mom and Dad have been so close, one could not be without the other.
Under "NORMAL" circumstances of aging and dying I would agree.

Dementia/Alzheimer is such a long illness, years of caregiving, years of worries
as the "living" picture changes.
Years it takes for the long goodbyes.
Years you prepare yourself for the worst.
A simple cold translated by your fears equal the dreaded pneumonia.
A gesture of rubbing his/her chest and you think they are having heart pains.
Without communication there are so many question marks.

In the last decade there have been so many ways in which I have said goodbye
to the man I adore.
First time he did not know me entered a stranger and he took my beloved to other places.
First time he refused for me to get into OUR bed, I met an imposter, not my lover.
First time he would not eat something I cooked I lost my appreciative audience.
First time he did not know his sister or brother, he lost his family
First time he stole our mail and hid it , I lost my bills yet unpaid.
First time he accused me of stealing his stuff, I was unconsolable.
First time he disliked the small grandchildren I hated the person in front of me.
First time he tried to get into a visitor's car I worried about his safety.
First time he got lost I knew he still needed me 24/7

But with all these manifold goodbyes you start to say goodbye to the person
you knew. You start to do what you need to do if you were a widow.
You put in screen windows, you have the furnace checked, you watch your pennies,
you think as head of the household and keep it all together.
You are alone already but have the added work of taking care of an ill person
with dementia.
I wash him, I feed him what he likes, I keep an eye on what he feeds the dogs,
I keep an eye on his wardrobe. I keep an eye when he gets out of bed for places unknown.
I redirect him when he is lost in the bathroom.
I am watching his body, the mind is unpredictable,

I tell the kids, if Dad should go before me , I will be fine. I will still miss the gentle,
loving man he was, the best husband one could wish for.
But I have said goodbye to that man many years ago.
I will survive, I am a lot more concerned if the process would be reversed.
Who will take such good care of him? It takes all you have to give out of you.

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