There’s no way to fit all this information in a 140 character tweet so I decided to blog it out to keep everyone updated on 1.) the reason for my trip and 2.) how I’m going to manage it all without going completely off the wagon.
It hasn’t been a vegan-rific few days. I haven’t gone totally off the wagon (only really strayed on a couple of meals out of necessity), and now that I’m in LA I see much better options in my future. But emotionally I’m going to be dealing with some pretty intense trigger issues and it’s going to be probably the toughest challenge yet.
Okay… to catch everyone up…
My mother’s brother and his wife were living on their own despite being pretty advanced in age (he: 77 she: 98) and being fairly significantly ill with various ailments over the last many years. Their pastor (they were very active in their church) called my mother about a month and a half ago to ask if she could come out and help tend to their needs, because they were really worried about them.
Unfortunately my mother is in no real condition to care for them herself. She’s disabled and has to use a walker to get around. Like my uncle, she can still drive and take care of some basic needs but caring for another person would be very challenging for her.
In fact we were looking into some assisted living facilities for my mom, and this will likely mean a pit stop in Amarillo by the time we come back to Texas – whenever that will be.
Well three weeks ago my aunt was taken to the hospital because her leg had swollen and was so painful to the touch she’d literally scream if anyone touched it. When the doctor checked her, he also noted she had arrhythmia (abnormal heartbeat) and wanted to admit her to the hospital.
My uncle, who had taken her, struck the doctor as confused by where he was or what was going on so he decided to admit him too (possible dementia/alzheimers), and that’s when some of their more distant relatives where brought into the picture.
It was a real possibility at that time my aunt might not make it.
So my mom decided she had to make the trip and was going to fly alone but I told her that I would drive her out. Two days later, we were on the road.
During the trip my aunt and uncle were moved from the hospital to a convalescent home. Everything was up in the air as far as their bills, etc. My uncle used to work for the city and receives a pension, so we knew someone would have to get control of the money in order to 1.) pay their bills in case one or both can return home and 2.) protect their interest.
Since my mother is the closest one to them, it was kind of obvious she had no choice but to come even though she herself is not able to provide their physical care.
She can, however, organize their care (and I can help her do that).
And that was our job as we saw it as we came out. She figured she could stay in their house (it was too small for all of us all to stay) and Tim and I could either bunk at my mother in law’s (who lives in OC) or my generous friend Bliss.
However when we got to the house itself, it became clear my mother could not navigate it (especially on her own) in the condition it’s in. The kitchen and the bathroom (the bathroom especially) requires a deep and thorough cleaning, and there are big bulky pieces of furniture in between her getting through the back door and getting toward the bathroom.
Basically there are more possessions in the house than room for them. So until we can get that in order she wouldn’t be able to stay there.
The second wrinkle is that the other relatives (my uncle’s grandchildren by marriage) wanted to stay there to help tend to their grandmother’s business.
These are people that we have never met, either, but we meet them today when they come in from Northern California.
So we decide that we would all stay with my mother in law who is completely awesome for opening her house to us without knowing when exactly we’re going to leave. (I also sat up with her late into the night last night talking about our options and how my mother faces some real obstacles in what she wants to do to protect her brother’s interest) until the grandkids leave (possibly as late as the beginning of April) or such time we can possibly fix up that house (with lots of help of course).
At that point my mom can stay there and use their care to deal with their business if she needs to. Not really sure if that’s a viable option or not at this rate but … one day at a time.
The biggest variable was the state of health for my aunt and uncle. My mother said that on Christmas when she talked to both of them, they were fine. But when she called in the beginning of February, she said my uncle had a hard time remembering who she was.
We had gotten differing information from several sources on the way out that he didn’t think he had any living relatives left, or that he did know who she was and knew she was coming. So we didn’t really know what to expect when we went to see them yesterday, and we were bracing for the worst.
(I knew if he didn’t recognize my mother it’d tear her in two)
The good news is that he did recognize my mom and was happy to see her. He has a hard time communicating because he can’t really articulate much but he recognized me and sorta my son (but in reality he hadn’t seen Tim in more than a decade and he’s grown a tad since then).
It was my aunt that really shocked me. She can’t really see and she looked like she’d aged 1000 years since I saw her last. They were both in wheelchairs and my aunt kind of drifted in and out of consciousness. When she spoke it was brief and not really to anyone in particular.
My son Tim was an *angel* with her – there for her needs and trying to make her as comfortable as possible. When she said she was cold, he’d put a blanket around her or go to tell the folks to see if they could turn up the heat. When she made a gesture like she wanted to drink, he got her something to drink, etc.
I really got the sense that she won’t be going back home. I honestly don’t believe she will last much longer. So we really have to worry about getting their final expenses tended to, especially in her case.
I think my uncle can come home eventually, or live in an assisted living facility at the very least, but it’s going to take a lot of research into the resources that are out there for the both of them.
Basically we’re in kindergarten right now and I expect to graduate with a masters by the end of the whole ordeal, and I have no idea how long it’s going to take.
I’m going day by day. It’s all I can do.
Today it’s going to be meeting up with the grandkids, and seeing what needs to be done to get power of attorney so their finances can be handled while they’re unable to handle them.
Money issues with people we don’t know. Should be *loads* of fun.
I’ll keep you updated as I know anything.
All positive thoughts and prayers welcome.