I’m on my way to see my Mother and Step-Father at the assisted living facility where they have lived for the past three years. I’ve taken great care in dressing this morning since I’m meeting with an administrator to discuss their care: past, present and future. Actually, since they will both be 89 years old this year, I think of their care needs only in three-month time periods. What will be discussed today is not to be considered long-term. It will be for…a while.
Their home is about 60 miles away from where I live. On a good day the drive is about 1 ½ hours long. On a bad traffic day it can take three hours coming or going. Or more. I take my dog, Babe, with me on these visits. She is excited that she gets to come because, well just because she‘s a dog. She thinks that anytime she’s in the car our destination is going to open avenues of adventure and be great fun, not only for her but for me, as well. Today perhaps not so much.
Thirty miles into the drive I notice how tight my bra has become. That’s strange because it wasn’t uncomfortable when I dressed this morning. Question to myself: what did I have for breakfast that made me assume a weight gain of 10 pounds in what…less than a day? No. Make that just hours?
Not a clue. Thought is dismissed. Comfort level remains constricted.
My Step-Father’s memory is slowly sinking into that abyss of darkness feared by many: Alzheimer’s Disease. His daily needs are wearing my Mother into the ground as her attempts to keep him with her physically and mentally are failing. The physical-ness of moving a large man around a small apartment, especially getting him to the toilet on time, is now more than she can manage. There are other things. Himself talking to me on the telephone but holding the phone upside down. Not being the fun and exasperating man he used to be. The fun part is gone. The exasperating part now magnified. Trying to keep him with her mentally is exhausting. She can see him but he can’t see her. He was once so vital and still is, but in an empty way. Mother perceives his slide into that place he cannot share with her, and is now fearful of her own unknown.
Himself has forgotten that he did not want to die first leaving Mother all alone. This is her fright now.
I’m not going to be able to alleviate most of her fears today. What is going to happen today is to try to make Mother’s life more…simple. It will get less of a life soon enough. Eventually, and all on it’s own.
I think I’ve figured out why my bra is too tight.
I’m trying to keep myself together.