February 24th, 2015


(no subject)

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.