Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Next Journey

All my peeps are home finally. Everything feels normal around here again. Those were some weary people I picked up at the airport yesterday evening. I thought I was going to have to get extra carts for their hind ends since their butts were dragging the ground. Hubby, Teen Angel, Sissy, Mama J. and Papa T. were all shuffling to the car with their last bit of energy. While Florida was nice, they were all glad to be home. And they came home with the knowlege that this was the last big trip we will take together.

Mama J. and Papa T. won't be going on any more vacations. It was just too hard on them this time. I think we all knew it by the second or third day of the trip, but no one mentioned it...then. It was the elephant in the room that no one wanted to talk about. When we took pictures at a cook-out Sunday night, we took them knowing it was the last vacation pictures we would probably take, but no one mentioned it...then. I had to brush away thoughts about those sick kids they take to Disney World before they die. Is this what those trips are like, I thought? Bittersweet because you know there won't be anymore?

It was exhausting just getting Mama J. and Papa T. to and from our destinations because of their medical problems. Mama J. is slow, really slow, even with her walker. And Papa T. can't see or hear his surroundings, so he has to have constant guidance, or we'll lose him in a crowd. We had to use wheelchairs and a golf cart at the airport to safely get them to their connecting flights in time. Neither one of them wants to use a wheelchair, especially Papa T., so we didn't even tell him we had one reserved until his fanny was six inches away from the darn thing. Otherwise, it would have been ugly, ugly, ugly much earlier in the day. We've been down that road once before. We felt bad about it but didn't know what else to do.

Papa T. had to have someone lead him around the rental house whenever he went to the bathroom or changed rooms because he couldn't see his way around the house. At home, he is familiar with his surroundings and knows how many steps are between rooms. In a different place, he is completely lost. Imagine living in a strange place for a week while wearing a blindfold and ear plugs. Just stop and think about what that must be like, relying on others to lead you around. It has to be very humbling. He stayed frustrated all week, and his frustrations exacerbated his dementia. The dementia is in such an early stage, though, he is cognizant of his confusion and sometimes jokes about it. On about day two, he told Sissy, "I don't know s**t from shinola". (Don't ask me what shinola is.) We all got a chuckle out of it because he was so sweetly funny, but unfortunately, he was right. About midway through the trip Papa T. turned the elephant loose and announced that this was his last vacation, that it was just too hard to travel, and he didn't want to do it anymore.

Mama J. stayed grouchy all week. Her legs were swollen, and she felt bad, but I think more than anything she was troubled by the realization that she can't travel long distances anymore either. She loves to go places and see new things. This is a hard pillow for her to choke down, and it was only at the end of the trip when she admitted that there would probably be no more big vacations for her.

I can't imagine how hard that must be to give up yet another freedom that comes with youth and/or good health. It's hard enough for the rest of us to accept that there will be no big trip out west in an RV so Papa T. can see the Grand Canyon. Or no more cruises with them in the Caribbean. A journey of another kind has begun, and it's not nearly as fun. As we have for the past nineteen years, we will make this journey together, experiencing new things, sharing some laughs and taking pictures...lots and lots of pictures.


janjanmom said...

You have been such an awesome lady to be so good to your in-laws. You are in Ruth territory. Love you!

hulagirlatheart said...

Ooh, I'm not worthy of bibilical comparisons, but I appreciate the compliment. Love ya back!