Monday, January 19, 2009

Something in the Air

The winds are out of the north today, a colder version of yesterday's breezes. The winds they are a changin', and so are things around here. I'm not sure how, but I think 2009 will bring some changes for the Hula-gen's.

Since 1993 we have lived next door to my in-laws, sharing, caring, sparring and generally watching out for each other. Hubby and I have often talked about how we might buy a newer home or a place with some land "one day", knowing that "one day" meant when we were done taking care of his parents. That time always seemed way off in the future, probably because we didn't want to think about the reality of being done with their care. They will be gone eventually, and that's not something we look forward to although we would like a house with more room to entertain, more closet space and as I often tell Hubby, some bathrooms big enough to turn around in without banging my *#@ on a doorknob. For years we've picked up the monthly real estate magazine and perused it like the J.C. Penney's Wish Book, pondering the pros and cons of different neighborhoods and styles of homes. We've never investigated a particular home, though. What's the point, we thought. However, today I will call about a house that's for sale, and we might even look at it. That's because we know our time next door to Mama J. and Papa T. is growing to a close. We know because Papa's T.'s dementia is getting worse.

It has accelerated somewhat in the last few months, and Friday, he kept asking Mama J. to read the newspaper to him, forgetting that she already had. He also woke up in the middle of the night and wanted something to eat, not realizing what time it was. While he has many moments of clarity, he spends much more time being confused now than he used to, and sometimes he just doesn't know what's going on. He enjoys his books on tape, but he retreats to those headphones to escape any pressures he can't handle. As I pondered this Saturday, I realized that his safety may soon become an issue. If he gets turned around in a dark house at night and tries to get into the van backwards when he takes a car ride, what's to prevent him from going outside and getting lost in the neighborhood? He is sometimes home alone when Mama J. goes to the beauty shop or an appointment. So far, he's been okay, but I think we're nearing the time when he shouldn't be left alone. Hubby thinks I'm worrying about it a little too much. But not much. He knows we've entered a new stage, a stage that's going to bring some hard decisions in the near future. Mama J. knows it, too. She knows she can't keep up with Papa T.'s daily needs anymore. It's wearing her out, even with Hubby's help. Her mobility isn't so hot either. We just don't know how much longer they can live in that house. And when they have to go, they probably won't be going to the same place. Papa T. is going to need much different care than Mama J.. Like I said, some tough decisions are ahead.

I'm not sure how soon we'll have to face them, but I really think it will be in the coming months. And as difficult as that's going to be, we may have to take the lead because none of us really wants to deal with this. We may have to initiate the move by planning our next home. That's why I will call the phone number on the For Sale sign that I jotted down this weekend. We may look at that house. We may not. At least that will get us to talking about it because it's time to take some steps in that direction. I think Mama J. realizes that. She even asked me last night if I had called about the house yet. She tried to sound upbeat about it. She feels the change in the air, too. I suspect that north wind chills her to the bones.


J.G. said...

You are wise to think ahead about the "what ifs" that come to us all eventually, as parents and as children. The new house is a good way to start that process.

Sending you many good thoughts from the heart.

Janis said...

You are facing some tough decisions to come. Sounds like the situation is getting worse and you are right to start the ball rolling for what is best for all concerned. Keep the faith and take it one day at a time.

Amy said...

So many decisions to make...I pray that God leads you and your family in the direction that He would have you all go.

God Bless,

Trailboss said...

You are very wise to think ahead and take the steps you are. It will help so much in the future. I know it is difficult for your husband to come to terms about his parents but it is what we all do at some time or another. Best that he is nudged gently by a loving wife toward the changes than having it land in his lap all of a sudden. I was lucky with my Mom, well so to speak. She told me when she needed to go to a nursing home. She even told me which one she wanted to go to. She had ALS and was aware it was a matter of time. I was pregnant with Stephanie and couldn't do it all anymore. My brothers lived out of town and couldn't help. It was up to me. Thank God she had the insight to do what she did and say what she said. Your family is blessed to have you.

Anonymous said...

Dee from Tennessee

Bless your MIL's heart...and I mean that in the kindest way. Or as my niece says, "God love her." And I'll add this...may He strengthen her mentally and provide her the grace she will need. Your last sentence is so powerful. Wishing you all God's direction and peace.

Grace said...

I agree with the others. My mother refused to admit how bad my father's Alzheimers was getting until she had to be admitted to the hospital with chest pains. She then told my sister and I that he could not be left alone and my sister and her husband ended up staying with him. The next day we had him assessed and he didn't even know who we were anymore. It was a few days after that that he was accepted into respite care for a few weeks but my mother no longer had the strength to take care of him. Shortly after that, he was accepted into a home and has been there for the last nearly 2 years. It was the best thing all around. Dad is comfortable in his new home and my mother can go about life without worrying about him. She visits him every day, though.