Tuesday, October 19, 2021

An October Visit With TB The Elder And Mom

 One of the changes that has taken place as we have moved through this ongoing journey with TB the Elder and Mom is the fact that visitation times move, not derived by anything other than climate.  Earlier in the year, it is too hot beyond the morning to visit outside; in the Autumn, one now goes later to avoid it being too cool.

As it turned out, my sister had pulled up just before I got there and was already settling the chairs it.  It is always nice when someone else is there, as it helps to move the conversation along if it stalls.

My mother almost recognizes me when they escort her out - "That is my..." "Son", I helpfully interject before she lost the thought or confused me for someone else.  "And your daughter" my sister chimes in.  They bring my father out as well, wearing a stretch knit cap for the cold - this is the first time I can remember in 45 years I have seen him in one.

The conversation is the same as it always is.  I let them know how the family is doing, show them pictures of The Ravishing Mrs. TB and Nighean Gheal fresh off their latest adventures.  I have no idea if they actually grasp where they have been, but they always act like they know.  They ask after the other two as well, and I remind them they are still in school and so cannot get away as easily.

TB The Elder seems more engaged than he sometimes does, asking a couple of questions which I have to interpret to get the answer for:  In one, he seems to be asking about mileage for the car I drove in (their old car, but they do not recognize it as such) and in the other, asking about the change in weather.  If those are not his questions, the answers seem to satisfy him enough.

We talk about the weather and how it is getting colder.  They ask about work and we let them know it is Sunday and we are both off.  

At one point my father gets up and starts walking around the walkway towards the far end of the patio.  My sister and I look at each other - he is really not supposed to be walking on his own without help - and then I spring up to walk around or beside him.  He clearly does not want help, so I am nervously walking to one side, trying to keep my attention on where he stepping and my arms out in case I have to leap to catch him one direction or the other.  He, however, seems to have not such doubts and continues straight on to the end of the walkway, making the corner, and getting to the end where the gate is.  He pulls on the lock for a moment and and then asks me something.  Again, interpretation:  "No Dad, I do not have the key".  He pulls on it a few more times, rattles the gate, and then turns around and then starts the slow shuffle back to where we were sitting.  Again, I am trying to anticipate the fall I think will come but he makes his way back into his seat without incident.

He has never tried to "escape" before.  That is new.

He does seem more "there" than some of the other visits we have had.  The fact that the Dodgers beat the Giants brings out a laugh in him (he is a lifelong Dodger fan).  And his questions, while not completely understandable, are understandable enough that I can supply the answer.

Visits are usually about 30 minutes or so, and this one is no different.  My sister goes to get help to bring them back in:  first goes my mother, and then they come for my father.  They always seem to be able to get him inside with the promise of a snack:  ice cream, popcorn, something.  He jokes with them in a way like he used to joke with others; they seem fond of him for that.

This was a better visit than some; my sister and I keep trying to analyze when we come and their reaction to assess if there is some common denominator (time, post meal, something) that makes them more "conversational".  

It may be nothing but chance of course, but the more pleasant visits make the time go better.  And one leaves feeling more uplifted than saddened.

12 comments:

  1. Anonymous3:31 AM

    Is it possible to bring items from their home that might interest them ? Do your parents recall any special items which you could bring to remind them for spurring more memories ?

    I recall at a family funeral after the funeral home service, the participants talking of old times. It was remarkable with with others around who shared those times, memories of places long gone came back to life. We became more animated, more smiles and laughs about how things were and who was there, etc. A picture album might help if these items are no longer available or too hard to bring along.

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    1. Anonymous - It certainly is something that we could do - although to be frank, I have no idea what would happen. My father quite likely might remember, but I do not know if he could effectively communicate even if he did. My mother might.

      That said, my mother has at least for a year prior to this not even remembered that her house was where she lived for the last 20 years and has had almost zero questions about any of our children or spouses - she will certainly act as if she knows them when we remind her, but I have no idea if she actually remembers them.

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  2. "....more uplifted than saddened."

    I think my MIL's calls from the care facility are moving in that direction.
    Everything about the course of her decline has been transitory and that fact is slowly sinking in.

    Our analysis of cause and effect related to her calls, or to visits, is much like yours. We just don't know, and we suspect that if we did find a relationship, that relationship will change before long.

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    1. John - As you have wisely said before, the overall course of where this is all going is known. At the risk of sounding rather horrible, in a way we are much like pilots, trying to manage an unpowered descent in a way that has as little impact to everyone as possible.

      We do have good days - Sunday was a good day. But good is very much a relative term in this case. My mom remembering she knew me - somehow - was good. Next time, she may not - not that this is "bad" of course, we will always fill in the blanks. But it does somehow change the spirit of the visit, if only by a little bit.

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  3. You and your sister seem to be doing a great job navigating all of this -- honoring your parents while realistically accepting their limitations. Blessings to both of you.

    You probably mentioned this before, but do they get to stay in the same room? And do they still fully know each other?

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    1. Thank you Bob, although perhaps not surprisingly I always think we could have done better earlier on.

      The location they are in now is more along the lines of a group home, where they have separate bedrooms but everything else is in large rooms. The separate bedrooms is not any different from the fact that they have slept in separate rooms for years, my mom in their bedroom and my father in the living room (he claimed she snored; I think he was restless). From what the workers there tell us, they are inseparable when they are up and they do seem to know each other, although sometimes my mother will look at us when my father is talking as if to say "I have no idea what he is talking about." She has said that more than once out loud as well.

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  4. Pilots, controlling the ship to an unpowered landing. That is well put.

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    1. Thank you STxAr. To be honest, I have no idea where such thoughts come from. They just wander in as I finger-jabber here on the keyboard. But it struck me as an apt metaphor when I read it.

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  5. I think it may be one a those things where I am either dead on target, or completely out to lunch. But I shall submit it for your consideration:

    The visits are for you and your sister, not for the folks. And you both are doing very, very well.

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    1. Glen, you may very well be right - although I will say that for me, the words that keep echoing in my head are from February and April, when my father was worried that everyone would forget about him. I have no idea if he remembers that, but I do.

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  6. When I was visiting my grandparents in the rehab unit of their facility, I would often take along old pictures to look at. They always sparked a lot of talking.

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    1. Ed, maybe the reason I do not take any - if I am truly honest - is that I do not want to face the possibility of disappointment when it does not register. Certainly for my mother, she recognized no pictures in January.

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