Just sitting

Tonight I’m sitting here, probably the most relaxed I’ve been in a while. Enjoying a night of just sitting watching football with my hubby and some of my boys.

Mom and dad are gone to bed, not asleep, but gone to bed.

Tonight mom isn’t sure dad is her husband.

Dad isn’t sure he lives here.

They think we are rotating old couples through the house a month at a time, and their month is almost up.

Mom is trying to figure out how to pack her socks.

Dad just wants to know how to layer the blankets on the bed.

Son3 has been called 2 different names.

Oldest by 1.

None of them are names of anyone in this house.

My name is Julie this week.

Julie is not my real name.

But for tonight, its ok.

For tonight, I’m not sitting here, heart racing at the thought of what’s gonna happen next.

I’m not sitting here dreading to hear my name called.

Tonight I’m handling it, and not letting it get to me.

Tonight,

I’m just sitting.

Its a nice thing to be doing.

Just a few memories.

In this crazy, upside down, mess of a trip with dementia/alzhiemers, I have found that I forget the good things. I need to remember them.

I have always known I am adopted, I have also always known that I am loved beyond the limits of love. My parents always made it clear that from day one, they have loved me probably more than their own children. They chose me. They cared for me, they loved me. Period.

I think my love for McDonald’s doublecheese burgers is my dad’s fault. On Sunday nights when we would be on our way home from church, he would go to the closest McDonald’s and get me a doublecheese burger. It was a treat because we never went out to eat unless it was with church folks. Otherwise, there were no quick trips to McD’s or anywhere else for anything.

I know my love for Krispy Kreme doughnuts is my mom’s fault. About once a month, she would wake me in the wee hours of the morning and we would drive to KK and grab some hot doughnuts. It was our secret. Our thing. A thing I’ve passed on to my boys. I don’t think any of them can drive by a Hot Doughnuts Now sign without drooling allover the car.

I look back at all the times mom would show up, out of the blue and pick me up early from school. We would head to the Mall and go shopping. She gave me a joy of shopping. Not necessarily spending, but shopping. There is a difference.

For several years, dad would preach revivals year round. I was his sidekick. I would come home from school, do my homework, then go to church with dad. I got to see a great deal of country side and meet tons of people. Usually the church people would have us to dinner, so I ate at lots of strange places, all of which made me aprehensive, but taught me about being a hostess and how to participate in some good table conversation.

I think I will always associate a black leather Bible with my dad and a red leather one with my mom. For as long as I can remember they always carried them like that. I have the last Bible my dad used, and I currently carry my mom’s last Bible. Neither of them can read their Bibles which is sad because they have brought them so much comfort over the years.

Mom drilled in to my head to be a lady no matter what. I know I’ve disappointed her in that respect. I was brought up that a lady always wore gloves, patent leather shoes, a hat, and was impeccably dressed when she went in public. I was thrilled when I became old enough to make my own decisions about what to wear, and I know it slightly killed my mom when I threw away the hats and gloves. But I still can’t wear white after labor day!

She also gave me a silly appreciation for a good gossip magazine, soap operas, and easy listening music. I think part of why I enjoy Michael Buble and Harry Connick Jr is because I grew up listening to the old standards by Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra.

These are a few of the things I know I love because my parents instilled them in me. Things that will always be part of me, because it was part of them. This disease may take my parents from me, but it can never take these parts of me away.

Making Memories

Tomorrow we are taking a road trip!

A one day, there and back trip but still a road trip.

I’m rather anxious about it.

The last time we took a road trip it took mom and dad over a week to settle back down. I hope it isn’t the case this time, but I doubt it will be any different.

We are taking mom and dad to have lunch with mom’s niece who is one of mom’s last remaining relatives. Mom used to baby sit her niece when she was little, and has always been very close with her. This will probably be the last time the two get to spend time together, thanks to aging.

I hadn’t told mom about it, until today, because I didn’t want to get her hopes up, and honestly, didn’t want to deal with the questions every hour about when we were leaving, what were we wearing, where are we going… etc, etc, etc.

Normally when mom or dad have somewhere to go, I tell them just enough in advance for them to get ready. They get so excited, anxious, and wound up about it, it’s like having a car full of children all asking “are we there yet?” over and over and over.

Personally I know its going to be a rough trip. A stressful trip. But a needful one.

It will be bittersweet knowing this will probably be the last time these two life long friends will be together. I doubt either one of them will think of it, or realize it. The rest of us will know. We will take pictures. We will help them make memories. Memories they may not remember 5 minutes after we leave. But they will still have them deep down.

It’s only just a dream.

Caring for a parent puts an enormous strain on all your relationships.

Unless they have walked in your shoes, friends don’t understand why you can’t just run out the door when they say “Hey, let’s go do this” or when they have life emergencies that normally you would run to help with.

Husbands and wives can sometimes get jealous or resentful of the amount of time and attention it takes with the added people in the house hold. Things that you used to let slide so you could have fun, you can’t let slide anymore.

Children don’t get the fact that you can’t just spontaneously do a fun thing.

It all takes planning.

Organization.

And that sucks.

Before we all moved in together, I would let the house go and do fun stuff, or just veg out on the couch reading all day. If a friend called and said wanna go shopping with me, I was out the door in a heart beat. When I crawled in bed at night with Stud, I was ready to go…. now, I’m dead on my feet ready to put in a couple hours of zzz’s.

I’ve changed.

I know that.

I freak out if the laundry doesn’t get swapped, or the dishes aren’t done.
I obsess about menus and if mom and dad have had 3 meals a day.
A friend had a medical emergency, and I didn’t make it to the hospital til 3 days later to see her instead of being right there in the ER waiting room as it was happening.
I used to make it to at least one church service a week. Now its more like once a month. Which kills me.
I couldn’t tell you the last time I sat down and read a book cover to cover in one sitting. Instead I get 5 minutes here and there.

I guess what I’m saying is, instead of wearing one hat at a time, like I used to, I now have them all stacked ceiling high and am carrying on a very tight balancing act to keep them all on my head at a time.

Its affecting me more than I care to admit. I have panic attacks at times. None that I haven’t been able to talk myself down from. Yet.

Right now, I want nothing more than to lay in bed, with my husband’s arms wrapped around me and just be.

That won’t happen.

But its a nice dream.

If they only knew.

When people find out we are caring for my parents, they get a look of awe on their faces.

They tell me how amazed they are that we are doing this.

They tell me I am such a good person for doing this.

They tell me I am an angel.

If they only knew the truth.

I’m not an angel.

I’m not a good person.

I’m not amazing, or awe inspiring.

If they only knew the thoughts I’ve had.

If they only knew that i dread to hear my name called sometimes.

If they only knew the pains I take to keep from losing my lunch when I am attending to certain needs of my mom.

If they knew that some days I just wish for once I would wake up before my parents so I could start my day out in peace and quiet, to slowly charge for the day.

If they only knew, then they wouldn’t think I was such a good person.

Someone’s daughter.

Sometimes I find myself with an incredible, pressing urge to pull my loved ones close.

Tonight, I miss my mom. I miss my dad.

Physically they are still here, and occasionally there is a brief vapor length spurt of them that show up.

Out of the blue, at the most random moments ever, I will see a snippet of the mom who used to wake me up and 3am for a hot donut run. Or the mom that would pick me up from school early to go to the mall.

I will catch a glimpse of the dad who taught me how to bake biscuits, and how to drive a car. I’ll hear the voice of the man who stood as my pastor for the majority of my life.

Tonight I need one of those snippets or glimpses.

Instead I got a conversation with mom about how her “new” husband has yet to make sexual advances towards her.

I got a discussion with dad with me repeating several times that his dr appointment is next month, not in the morning.

Tonight, I need to be the daughter again.

Not the schedule keeper, medicine dispenser, iron fist that always says no, or the woman who runs the place.

Caregiving is not for the faint of heart. You lose a part of your life that you can never get back.

I miss being a daughter.