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24 February 2015 @ 12:05 pm
 
HalfshellHusband and I drove up to Eugene late last week, to see my mother and to help get the house set up for her to use by herself.

My sister has done a great job with all of the notifications and paperwork (SO much of that), and getting the tax information and finances together so that my mother has a system to know what forms/bills to expect and places to keep them. My dad handled all of that for the 52 years they were married, and he had things in multiple parts of the house. That method only worked for him.

The pantry and kitchen have been overhauled to put the most often-used things in more convenient places, and get everything off the higher shelves. My mom is on blood-thinners, and is not supposed to climb anything, including step stools. She's in terrific shape at 89, but falls are dangerous.

I went through all of the video tapes/movies too, and had her select what to keep and what to discard, so I could move all of that within reach. She's going to need a lot of entertainment and distraction.

She's doing pretty well, considering, but will be incredibly lonely without my dad. Two of my sisters are in Portland, just 2 hours away, and unfortunately they'll be shouldering most of the effort of supporting her. My brother and I are both about 8 hours away, and the remaining sister is in a nursing home. Fortunately, my mom has a fun and energetic 80-year-old cousin living right around the corner, and she's in a retirement community (what my dad called the "old people's compound"). There are a lot of very nice people there, many of whom have already been through this kind of loss themselves. But she's not ready to socialize much, and she has always been very different from most women-- especially those of her generation. My dad was her best friend, and someone who really understood her. Most of her peers never have.

My younger sister says she's almost done being mad at my dad for dying, as she moves through the stages of grief. I haven't felt that at all. I went from that initial denial ("this doesn't seem real") to sadness, and it was the same for my M-I-L. Both of them were elderly (88) and their health was irreversibly declining. They'd reached the point where they were becoming miserable, and while I wanted them to want to live when they were feeling better... I would never ask them to hang on and endure just for other people's sake once they could no longer be happy. I wish my dad had come back more fully from that broken ankle/nursing-home experience in October, but he never got free of the walker and he'd started to show signs of heart trouble in the days before he died. His body just finally gave up, and he was ready to be done for months beforehand. It hurts to know that he was so unhappy, but it helps to know that he embraced the idea of dying after spending decades being terrified of it. The last ten years (after his major heart attacks and surgery) were a gift, and he enjoyed them enormously.

So did we.

Tags: ,
 
 
 
kick_galvanic, zagzagael, skull_theatre: ashes and snowbleodswean on February 24th, 2015 08:37 pm (UTC)
*hugs*
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 24th, 2015 08:57 pm (UTC)
Thanks. It's been a rough couple of weeks. :(
sassy, classy, and a bit smart-assy: SnoopyWoodstockbadboy_fangirl on February 24th, 2015 08:59 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry for your loss; it is my opinion that death is far harder on those left behind than those that go on. I also share your view of letting people go when their quality of life has declined so much. My grandma is 93 and is in that stage now where it's hard to want to her to stay much longer. I'm glad that you can have those feelings rather than being mad about it. I hope those are my feelings when those I love most are taken from me.



Edited at 2015-02-24 09:01 pm (UTC)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 24th, 2015 09:06 pm (UTC)
I agree completely. It is just devastating to those left behind, and while that gets better, it never really goes away.

It's hard to believe he's gone. I know we were lucky to have him as long as we did, but I wish it had been a little longer.
Direst Ryl: Shellryl on February 24th, 2015 09:23 pm (UTC)
*hugs*
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 24th, 2015 09:27 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Ryl.
adoptedwriteradoptedwriter on February 24th, 2015 11:14 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry you're having to go through this. Everyone finding a " new normal" is tough. My FIL passed in 2010. They had 52 yrs also. Some days were still adjusting.
Hugs

AW
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 25th, 2015 12:39 am (UTC)
Thank you. I know this is going to be really hard for my mom. She's very resilient, but my dad was her best friend and the love of her life. That's a lot to lose.
Trigger Warning: Lifematchboximpala on February 25th, 2015 01:39 am (UTC)
It's wonderful to hear your mom and dad were so close, even after so many years. But yes, I imagine that makes it even harder for her. I hope that she is able to find some people or activities that bring joy into her life.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 25th, 2015 01:59 am (UTC)
I have the same kind of relationship with my husband as she did with my father, so it kicks off a whole secondary panic for me.

Some of her big interests were fly-fishing and hiking, and I imagine she feels she's too old to do either. I hope she thinks about doing some volunteering, when she's up to it. She has a lot to offer there, and that might help her feel better.
cindy: chocolate mousetsuki_no_bara on February 25th, 2015 04:58 am (UTC)
i'm so sorry. *hugs* i hope your mom's ok. at least she's got a local cousin and some nice people around.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 25th, 2015 07:30 am (UTC)
I'm sorry none of us live in the same city with her, but I do hope the people nearby are a comfort. She's gotten to know several of them in the time she's lived there, and they seem to like her as well.

This is such a hard time for her.
Port: house rainbowdesertport on February 25th, 2015 05:53 am (UTC)
*hugs* I wish there were anything to say to make this easier for you, but please know you've been in my thoughts and prayers.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 25th, 2015 07:31 am (UTC)
Thank you-- I appreciate that. *hugs*
Kizzy: *HUGS*xo_kizzy_xo on February 25th, 2015 08:38 am (UTC)
<3 <3 <3

Oh Karen :HUGS:

I think once people make up their minds they're going to pass, they do so with amazing swiftness. Your dad was ready, and as you say, the last 10 years were a gift he enjoyed despite being miserable and and terrified.

I'm so, so sorry.

:HUGS:

Edited at 2015-02-25 08:41 am (UTC)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 25th, 2015 10:19 pm (UTC)
He was doing pretty well for most of those ten years, until he fell in October and broke his ankle. They had to do surgery, and then he went to a nursing home for rehab because his upper body wasn't strong enough to manage a walker or crutches. So, he was there for six weeks, and that really dampened his spirits. Once he finally came home, he was still using the walker and then his ankle got infected... so he hadn't made it back to independent movement, and that was what really had him thinking he'd had enough. A big injury so often heralds the end, because the recovery is too hard and too daunting.

I think he still had periodic hope, even after his heart started fibrulating. But he didn't want so desperately to keep going, the way he had before this October. In that sense, he was finally ready, and no longer afraid.

All things considered, I think that was a kind of blessing. But still, we'd all hoped he'd rebound from that injury and have a few more years left. :(
Maz (or foxxy!): Brotherly hugtuesdaeschild on February 25th, 2015 10:30 am (UTC)
I hope your Mum manages to cope on her own and with the family support she'll no doubt be getting will find loneliness not such a big problem as the weeks go by. There's so much to cope with when you lose someone so dear, quite apart from overwhelming grief, so getting all the paperwork and stuff organised for her will have been a big help.

Take care of yourself too, my friend.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 25th, 2015 10:20 pm (UTC)
Thank you, and thanks again for your sweet messages last week. ♥
CaffieneKitty: roadcaffienekitty on February 25th, 2015 12:14 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry for your loss. *hugs*
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 25th, 2015 10:20 pm (UTC)
Thank you. You always hope the day will never come, even though you know it must. *sigh*
nodressrehersalnodressrehersal on February 25th, 2015 04:31 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry to hear of your dad's passing. We went through it in October, and it's never easy.

My dad handled all the paperwork, too, and even in his final months, he wanted to maintain control, and we let him. I told my mom we'd figure it out and find what we needed when the time came, and we did. I've sorted through it all and simplified the filing system, and that has helped a lot with the day-to-day household management.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 25th, 2015 10:41 pm (UTC)
My dad had a lot of obsolete files, and many of the things you'd want in one place (tax-related things like 1099s) were kind of everywhere. He always knew where things were, and handled all that just fine... but that sure doesn't work for anyone else! He also seems to have closed his and my mom's joint checking account a few months back, and nobody has any idea why.

Those day-to-day things become so much harder when you've lost a spouse and are trying just to cope with that. My sister's help there has made all that so much easier for my mom, and I'm really grateful to her for doing it.
nodressrehersalnodressrehersal on February 26th, 2015 12:43 am (UTC)
I could see that my dad had kind of a hodge-podge filing system, four different places to find any one given piece of paper...but when he sought my input as a professional organizer, I told him he was doing a really good job and not to worry, I'd be able to find everything just fine. He beamed at that. He did let me come and check the math in his checkbook during the final months, but he still insisted on writing it all himself.
alien_writings: Heart Readingalien_writings on February 26th, 2015 10:13 am (UTC)
*hugs*hugs*hugs*
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 26th, 2015 05:42 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much. *hugs*
Celtic_Forestceltic_forest on February 26th, 2015 06:07 pm (UTC)
wow, very tough stuff. I'm sorry you're going through this.
I'm going to be in Newport for a week at the end of March. If you're up there again so soon, we could get together and catch up a little.
(Yes, I'm still around. I've become primarily a lurker.)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 27th, 2015 07:44 am (UTC)
It seems so impossible that he's really gone, instead of off on an errand and expected home later. We're sure going to miss him.
angels3angels3 on February 28th, 2015 01:24 am (UTC)
I'm so sorry...and that's such an inadequate response. I know because as much as I understood when people told me I wanted to scream, but you know that wouldn't have been polite *sighs*

I've not moved from the numb sadness phase and it's been two almost three years so you're already doing much better than me.

*smushes you*
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 2nd, 2015 08:35 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry you've been through this yourself, and it's still so hard.

It seems unbelievable that a person who has been such a huge part of your life and so many others, and has done so many things, loved so many people and things, should just suddenly be gone.

I still have moments where I can barely believe it's true. That we had him so long and he knew how much we loved him is the only consolation.
dmouseydmousey on February 28th, 2015 05:59 pm (UTC)
I am so so sorry. I didn't know about this or would've hugged you sooner.
:huggs: My heart aches for you and your mother.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 2nd, 2015 08:38 pm (UTC)
Thank you. *hugs*

I couldn't talk about it at all at first, and just kept it to my journal. My poor mom-- he was her soulmate, and this brings up all kinds of my own fears about losing my husband someday. She'll go on without him, but I'm not sure whether that will ever be able to make her happy.