Wednesday, December 29, 2021

TB The Elder And Mom: A December Update

 I have been remiss in updating on my parents - partially because of travel and partially because of seeing them during the travel.

It is colder where they live now, cold enough that being outside would be a bit of a challenge and due to the timing of the Grand Canyon Hike and having to come back to New Home, I forewent seeing them in November.  However, December came soon enough and my sister was able to go with me.  Also for the second visit, my brother-in-law came so we had yet another voice.

For both visits that bookended my trip (typically I fly out on Saturday and return on Saturday), we were able to sit inside, which has not happened in the 6 months or so they have been there.  The second time, we had to wear masks, which was a bit of inconvenience but did not seem to impede our communication.

For both visits, we were able to speak little with TB The Elder.  Apparently he has been having rough bouts of insomnia at night and so has been sleeping during the day.  The first visit, they brought him out but within 5 minutes he was asleep in his chair; for the second, they suggested (and we agreed) that we just leave him sleeping in a recliner.

My mother, however, was awake and able to interact.  She did recognize me both times as someone she knew (although again, I quickly intersperse "your son" before she struggles too much).  We chatted a bit about my trip and I showed her some pictures of Costa Rica - mostly animals, since those are easy to relate to.  We talked about The Ravishing Mrs. TB and Na Clann and how they were almost all done with school.  

After that, conversation lagged a bit, so my sister and I (and my brother in law for the second one) just started talking.   This is something we have learned to do if there is too much of a lull; my mother does not seem to mind but just listens in.  I suppose in some ways we are not talking "to" her, but she is present for the conversation and, in some way, involved.  

This is how the visits have run for the last few times: a short conversation, then we just start talking about life.  I am not sure that my mother or my father really "understand", but perhaps at some level it is at least helpful in terms of another set of voices to listen to.

Before we left, we did speak with the owner and asked how my mother is doing.  Okay, she said - she needs more help and encouragement with eating (my father, apparently, eats everything without question).  Also, about two months ago they had asked my sister to start getting essentially adult "onesies" - they look like very fashionable sweat suits but zip up in the back to prevent them from taking them off.  Originally this was because my mom tended to take her clothes off in the middle of the night; now it seems it is also related to taking her clothes off wherever she is and "using the facilities". 

None of this is heartening of course, just as it is not surprising.  There are no happy endings at this point; the curtain will fall, we just do not know when.

But that is as it is.  For now - given these limitations - they seem to be doing well.  They are certainly well cared for (and we are incredibly blessed that they are together and that we found this location, so close to my sister's house).  And while I have every reason to believe that neither of them fully remember the last time that we visited, I take comfort in the fact that when we visit, we still seem to get a response.

Perhaps we cannot fend off the darkness, but we can still provide a candle.

8 comments:

  1. When the curtain does fall, I think the fact that you all went the extra mile for their sake will be a comfort. Even if they don't remember or fully understand, a time comes when survivors wonder if they did "enough" for their loved ones. The time spent with them now is a good investment in their humanity and yours.

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    1. Leigh, I suspect you are right. Were the worst to happen before my next visit, I could legitimately say that my mother still recognized me and I got the opportunity to tell her I loved her. Not everyone can say they said that the last time they saw a loved one.

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  2. I wonder if all of life is as you say. We can't fend off the darkness, but can provide a little light.

    With the constant drumbeat of setbacks, the least I can do is not pass along my despair. I hope to still spread some joy.

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    1. STxAR, the reality is that life really is that depressing (especially if Christ did not come): A one way trip to a future without any hope or judgement. I wish people reflected on that more.

      Does doing something (spreading joy, as you say) impact that in the long run? If you are a believer of course it does (it is our job) and if not, it is a version of Pascal's wager: if we live as if there is a God, even if we do not know there is one, have we really lived poorly?

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  3. Good to get an update, TB, and glad to hear they are as well as can be expected under the circumstances. I love the analogy of providing a candle. The time you are spending with them is, as you know well, is time well spent. I have enjoyed reading your blog this year. I don't always take time to comment, and I have to play "catch-up" from time to time, but I do read and enjoy, and have learned. Happy New Year to you and your family.

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    1. Bob, it is time well spent, though I suspect it is as much well spent for me (in ways I do not fully grasp) as it is for them.

      Thank you so much for the kind words and I appreciate you making the effort to catch up (I have to with others as well - so many good writers, so little time!). Happy New Year to you and your family as well.

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  4. I hadn't commented earlier as I thought I had nothing constructive to add, but it occurs to me that we have a good deal in common.
    My father is physically stable at 93, but in a long, slow decline of vascular dementia. I have wondered, when visiting with one or two other siblings, whether our conversations were ignoring him and if he minded that he only rarely, if ever, commented himself. To the contrary, my brother J., who is his 24/7 caregiver, assures me that this is what he wants and treasures. He may not actively participate in a conversation, but he HEARS it all, and the activity may not seem to be much to us, but it means everything to him. J. tells me that it is a bit disconcerting when, 24 or 48 hours later, Dad will bring up something said, or answer a question long forgotten by us. Most of his time is inactive--he sleeps like a cat, nearly around the clock, but there are moments of surprising lucidity and he can carry on a conversation as we've learned to have the patience to wait for his side which can be quite some time in coming.

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    1. Greg - Thank you very much for the perspective. It has been a bit wonky this last visit with him sleeping, but earlier he has certainly demonstrated he wants to be involved, even if we do not understand what he is saying. Like your father, perhaps the simple act of just being there is doing more good than we can understand.

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