Friday, February 12, 2021

Packing TB The Elder

 Yesterday we packed up my father, TB the Elder.

Packing him up was easier and more difficult than packing for my mother.  Easier, because there is not a sense of secrecy as we go about looking at things, of having to have a ready answer for "why we are taking that".

Harder, in that my father is very clear what we are doing.

He is less concerned with some things.  The practical matters of things like towels and linens and dishes he is little concerned with, and I sincerely doubt he knows which clothes we have selected for him.  He seems surprised as we haul a bed frame and mattress past him (he has slept on the couch for years; the facility tells us the medical staff will not like that so down the the bed goes).  We debate which recliner to take; he finally shrugs and says "Whatever".  We take the one that he sits in next to the fireplace now.

His concern are the pictures.

My sister has done a good job, grabbing pictures that my father has mentioned as well as ones which she thinks he will want.  There are far more going than went for my mother, but then again my father remembers more.  They are mostly pictures of the grandchildren, both mine and my sister's, with a healthy grouping of pictures of he and my mother.  I assume there are one or two of us there as well; as children, we often rate somewhat below the grandchildren and slightly above remembered pets.

He just sits and watches as we trundle past, slowly transferring what seems essential to his life in a new location.  His grief and sadness are palpable as they are largely unspoken - when my sister asks him how he is doing, he just says how much he misses my mother.

He goes to bed at 7:00 PM tonight, the earliest he has gone since I have been here.  When I ask him if everything is okay, he just shrugs and says he misses my mother.  Sleep is a way to escape the reality of the pain, the memoryless hole where we find visions and confusion and occasionally, rest.

And so I sit here in the computer room off the side of the living room, working in the flickering light and darkness of the ;laptop screen.  If I look through the glass panes of the closed door, I can see the flickering of the television and beyond that the orange and blue flames of the fire in the stove, slowly burning away to keep out the cold of the rain that I hear pouring down outside in the darkness - the fire that has burned here all winter for over 20 years.  My father has gone to sleep, dreaming the dreams of old men who have had full lives and now find themselves in a place they had not imagined.

I look out the window into the darkness.  The rain only comes down harder, giving me no answers except for its fury.


16 comments:

  1. As always, beautifully written and not much I can add except to say I continue to hold your family in my thoughts and prayers.

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    1. Thank you Ed. I am certainly grateful for them. I would like to pretend that this has been something that I am able to easily handle, but I fear I am merely pushing off the emotional reaction until after tomorrow, when he is moved. There is a surface feeling to everything; I fear to plumb the depths at this moment lest I do not have strength for what remains to be done.

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    2. When my mom was in the last days, I felt the same way. Felt like I was just emotionally numb. I'm not sure when I regained a more normal feeling because it was a very gradual return over a long period of time.

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    3. I know whereof you speak. Mom passed suddenly when I was 31. Not ready for that. I was numb for months, and then it took years to be able to sing some hymns without remembering holding her hand and looking up at her as she sang the same words... Those throat lumps took hours to go away. The tears dried up a bit quicker.

      TB, don't put off mourning too long. It's got to be done. I'm praying for you guys.

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    4. Ed, emotionally numb is not a bad phrase to use. And I am consciously doing this, knowing that someday (hopefully years off), I will have to do a different set of grieving all over again. We can always say that we are not up to, but we will have to be when the time comes.

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    5. STxAR, it will probably not hit me until after I am back and I get ready to make my Tuesday call (I always call on Tuesdays) and it will be to a different number and only my father will be there. That is when I think it will really hit home.

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    1. Thank you very much STxAR. This is not something I ever imagined having to do and, even if I did, would not imagine it to be this. No support group or instructional manual could prepare you for this - in a very real and strange way, it has to be done on our own. I wish we did a better job as a society of preparing people for this.

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    2. I think your dad and mom making the right preparations took the guess work out. You can make the BEST decisions possible, because of that. I don't know how to emotionally prepare tho.

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    3. STxAR, they did take the most of the work out - I cannot imagine trying to navigate this and having to figure out the financing.

      But the emotional part - I have no idea how anyone could prepare for that, except by doing it.

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  3. Are you going to sell the ranch TB?

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    1. Glen, we are fortunately in a place where we do not have to. My parents planned for this - they have a Long Term Care policy you cannot get anymore because it is so good and planned for retirement (As usual, my public service message: My parents saved and worked to achieve this. No one "did it for them".). So financially, there is no need - they will have more than enough to cover all their living expenses as long as they live.

      The man who keeps the horses and cattle up here has been here for over 15 years and loves the place as much as we do. He (and often his family) are here every day and he is a long time friend of my father. So someone is at the property every day. Also, my aunt and uncle live just up the road.

      I still will comes out once a month as well for at least a week at a time.

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  4. None of this process is is easy... Prayers for you all!

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    1. Thank you sbrgirl. We should not become used to this and it should not become easy. I would think we lose a part of ourselves if it was.

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  5. Change is always hard. Your father seems to be a real trooper; probably something he wishes didn't have to happen but resigned to. I pray he finds a contented niche once the transition is over.

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    1. Leigh, he is really trying. It is hard for him, as I imagine it would be for anyone - he has said a number of times that he never expected things to go this way. I am hopeful with the removal of a lot of stress (from being the primary caregiver for my mother), a better diet, and people around him regularly, it will be a relatively easy transition. I am just hoping he does not expect things to get better too quickly - and become frustrated.

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