Meriting a mention despite my avoidance of such things over the past week:
Friday: My parents and I were all together for what I imagine will be the last time when we brought my mom over to the hospital to see my dad. It went fairly well, given the circumstances. I’m not sure how much of it my mom will retain. About half the time now she seems to think it’s my grandfather (dead for over thirty years) who’s in the hospital rather than my dad.
Saturday and Sunday: Spent a good chunk of my time in the hospital but also tried to catch up on things at home.
Monday: Worked as much as I could. My aunts are staying with my dad during much of the day. They’re truly wonderful people. I also consulted with two funeral homes in preparation for the inevitable. Visited Mom for a few minutes. Came home quite exhausted.
Today: Nothing new. Just a slow, steady decline. People tend not to stick to a schedule when they die. He stops breathing very often, sometimes for twenty seconds or so. Initially my heart stopped every time this happened. Now I’m getting used to it. The nurse thinks we’re pretty close to the end.
Situations like this do tend to restore my faith in people. Everyone has been really helpful and nice. My family has been quite amazing. Friends too. I’m torn between needing to talk about it and not particularly wanting to. Which sucks…
Given what’s going in with my dad, some of my coworkers have been surprised me to see me coming into work whenever I could this week and have encouraged me “not to bother.” But it’s really no bother at all. In fact, I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t want and need to.
Right now, my dad is heavily medicated and sleeping most of the time simply because when he’s awake he’s in mental and physical agony. You can’t imagine what I’d give to have one more actual conversation with him. But any time we spend together now is not exactly quality time. He barely knows whether I’m there or not and every minute makes it a little bit harder for me to picture him ever having been alive and independent. I think he would benefit more now from an alert son who spends a few hours a day by his side than from one who’s exhausted from putting in twenty-four hours a day watching him sleep.
Maybe I’m rationalizing. Or selfish. I don’t know. But I do know that I very much need to spend a few hours every day feeling normal and trying to think about something–anything–else. I find that work is increasingly what I rely on in a crisis. The weekend after Mark and I split up I decided that it was the perfect time to do major surgery, including a WordPress upgrade, on every single one of my sites. Just as my mom was going into memory care last winter, I dived right into a major grant application. My house has never been cleaner and neater than it has for the past two years. In each of these cases–not to mention the current one and many others–I was confronted with a situation I felt I had no control over. Therefore I desperately needed something I could control–something I knew I could do well to make up for whatever failure or misfortune was tearing me apart.
I’m not the most together person on the planet but I’m smart enough to know that this works for me. And i have a sneaking suspicion that my dad would approve.
Random thoughts while I have too much time on my hands in the palliative care unit:
- I seem to get my most emotional these days when strangers (nurses, friends of my Dad’s, etc.) are nice to me. Not sure why that is.
- A year or so back, I said that childhood ended when you started looking for long-term care for your mother. If any trace happens to linger, it evaporates when you have to make the decision to let nature take its course as your father approaches the end of his life.
- Death is not a neat and tidy thing.
- My dad is an amazing person who apparently made friends wherever he went. I sometimes wish I’d inherited a little more of that.
- Despite my distaste for Wells Fargo when I banked with them in California, they do have at least one employee in Greensboro who is a human being. Not surprisingly, she was hired during the (pre-First Union) Wachovia era and made things much easier for me Monday than her counterpart at Bank of America did five years ago when I had power of attorney for my uncle.
- Hospital cafeterias are not as bad as their reputations suggest.