Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Intrepid Travelers Return

We’re home! And I’m worn out - even though Dr. M was a Bugly hog so I didn’t help with any of the driving.


We had a nice time. Daddy & Amy were excellent hosts & I enjoyed going to one of Amy’s sons’ birthday party on Sunday. I’ll post some pictures later when my head feels less cotton woolly (which is a whole other feeling than Willow’s woolly socks feeling that I can’t even contemplate in August - ooh - my feet are getting hot just thinking about it!).

Dr. M’s mom has good days and bad days. She sometimes knows who we are, which is nice. Physically, she seems to be very healthy. However, she’s unable to feed herself (problems with her hands) and, true or not, Dr. M’s father thinks that he has to be there for breakfast & lunch every day or she won’t get enough food. Every day. She’s been in this facility for 13 months and the only days he’s missed have been when the weather was too bad or when he was sick. Maybe five days?

Although they’ve lived in their community & attended the same church for most of their lives, and although they have family living nearby, Dr. M’s father is alone in his daily mission. No one offers to help. He feels like he & Dr. M’s mom are in their own little world, all alone.

Dr. M & I feel helpless. He feeds his mother when he’s in town, but we can’t be there that often. I want to write snarky little notes to all the folks I think should be helping, but I’m pretty sure that would be frowned upon by Dr. M and his father.

So, we’ll just keep hoping someone wises up. And trying to go down there when we can. It’s what people do, isn’t it?


14 comments:

  1. As the more geographically distant relative to both my and the Hub's mum, I can't criticize anything the siblings do or don't do. I'm just grateful there's someone--anyone--nearby.

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  2. There are things in this world I do not understand. This may seem like an obvious statement to those of you who don't know me, but for those who do, you know that it isn't often that I confess that I don't understand something! I am expected to understand stuff...centuries upon centuries of stuff. I make a living understanding stuff...or at least convincing others that I understand stuff, lol!

    But this I do not understand: callous disregard. I won't name names, won't taint this lovely blog my wife has posted with my overflowing anger...I'll just leave it at this: I do not UNDERSTAND the people who claim to love my parents and yet DO NOTHING!

    You know what I do understand? Love. You who have been hurt, or who think there is no love left in this world, I beg to differ. Love endures. I am here to testify: I've seen love embodied.

    Love is a 79 year old man who gets up before dawn every freakin' day, eats, cleans up, and drives about eight miles to the nursing home so he can feed his wife breakfast. He stays on through lunch, making sure she gets the attention she needs, including two good meals a day and much more.

    Then, exhausted, he goes home to an empty house to work and worry, fret and fume, and sometimes sleep. And he gets up the next day and does it all over again. Every day.

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  3. I want to encourage you to speak to the pastor of Dr. M's parents' church. Or someone you know there. Ask for help. Don't be afraid to state the bald truth that the community has failed this couple who needs support and expressions of caring. It may well be assumed that all bases with Mom's care are covered, and they simply don't know to help. This doesn't excuse the failure to inquire or be proactively engaged with parents/in-laws. What it does is open a conversation that can yield amazing results.

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  4. I can only endorse what alter ego has said here. A quiet word may be all that is needed. Yes, the church people/nearer relatives should have asked already (maybe they did but were rebuffed?) but they need to be encouraged to get involved again. Dr M's father's devotion is a shining light.

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  5. My grandfather did the same thing for months on end before my grandmother finally died peacefully in her sleep. Three months to the day she died, he was admitted to the hospital in acute renal failure. None of us had a clue, as he'd been so busy making sure her needs were met, he ignored his own health. It does boggle the mind that more people don't reach out, but as Anne said, maybe talking to the pastor would at least let them know of the situation and the real need for support.

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  6. Dear The Bug,
    Altar Ego sounds like the expert. The other kind of help I think you should mention is not help for Mom, but for Dad, who might need a little help with home repair or an occasional lawn-moving or load of laundry . . . you get my drift.

    It may be that he won't let go of his loving care for your Momma, in which case he will need support another way.

    Times like this I know I don't do enough either.

    Your Dad is a wonderful person.

    Very truly yours,
    Ann T.

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  7. welcome home.

    unfortunately, this culture in America does not honor or love our elderly.

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  8. Welcome home guys. I wish I had some wisdom to share that could help Dr. M and his family, but I don't. Sometimes people are inexplicably selfish and there isn't a lot one can do to change that.

    You will all be in my thoughts and prayers.

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  9. Dear friends,

    Thank you so much for your comments. I take to heart everything you have expressed. The situation is complicated, to say the least. There were those who stepped up initially, did an amazing job helping around the house, etc., doing the kinds of things that Ann T. (forgive me, friend, for not visiting with YOU more often) suggested. But over time the support for my father has withered away.

    My father can be passive-aggressive as all get-out (to use a southernism), and so on the one hand he won't ask for help, but on the other he resents the lack of volunteerism. Still, his needs are plain as the ample nose on my face to anyone who will look. My anger is focused primarily on the local church congregation and members of the family who have, over time, diverted their eyes from the ongoing crisis.

    Example: for months people from church visited my father (though none have regularly visited the nursing home) and tried to help in small ways, but seemingly every visit ended with a rebuke: why did he not just bring mom home? Bring her home...we'll be there to care for her/cook/clean/whatever. Bring her home...we'll help you remodel the bathroom, etc. Bring her home...that's what we did with (fill in the blank).

    I've seen him have these conversations with his "brothers and sisters in Christ," always polite, never voicing his frustration to their faces, but afterward literally shaking with anger at their refusal to accept the reality that he can't bring mom home. Now he feels like they are shunning him, and I believe they are, and so I, too, am angry with them on his behalf.

    That leaves family: a retired sister who thinks she's doing her part by visiting once a week for an hour or so, only spelling dad at mealtime if he begs her to; a son on disability who has very real long-term heart and health problems but only lives ten minutes away and to my knowledge has never put one spoonful of food in his mother's mouth; a sister-in-law who is bat-shit crazy and apparently expects The Bug and I to give up our careers and move back to NC to deal with this, because she's not "blood kin" (funny how that never mattered to my mother, who over the years has spent tens of thousands of dollars and countless hours trying to help this woman feed, clothe, and raise my brother's step-children and even their children!); my brother's step-daughter, who at one time was so very committed to helping mom and dad, but now is amazingly distant, thanks to the poison spewed in all directions by her mother. That's the short list.

    The main point is this: rather than commit even one day a week to feeding mom and giving my father a weekly break, my family at best chides him for being stubborn, and at worst yells at him for trying to do what he thinks is right by mom. As for mom, she seemingly is dead to my brother and his wife, and that makes me angry, but it makes me livid to see and hear them have so little respect for my father and his needs.

    The last straw for me...almost the last straw for him...was when my brother and his wife asked my father to water their plants and look after things while they went to the beach for a week. Yes, you read that right...the 79 year old diabetic was expected to get up before dawn, eat, get cleaned up, go to the nursing home, feed his wife breakfast, etc., then run up to their house, water the plants, feed the dog, etc., then come back and feed his wife lunch, then go home to an empty house and fend for himself. Why was he expected to do this? BECAUSE HE OWED THEM A FAVOR FOR ALL THEY DO FOR HIM! *head explodes*

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  10. I wonder how many of us read through this and thought of all the times when we looked away -- I'm betting I wasn't the only one.

    Love to you, Dr. M, and to your daddy and momma and to your DearDeeBug.

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  11. I never cease to be amazed at how truly loveless church people can be, when it really comes down to the true test.

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  12. I was fortunate to have my dad nearby at the end. He spent his last weeks and died in our home.

    Love and the care of others is unrelated to church organizations. those folks who reach out would do so with or without their church affiliation.

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  13. I'm glad you're back, and very happy that you had a good time :D

    My grandfather is terminally ill, so I can empathise on this one. Sometimes, one does feel truly helpless, and it isn't easy, but just remember to show love at all times, and try your best. It's all that can be done. You're right - hope is the only path to take.

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  14. Dear C.L.
    Boy do I understand the head explode thing. Caregiving is so difficult and for some reason thankless.

    I don't know what to say. I am still dealing with the aftermath of my caregiving experience, years later, and the lack of support.

    But I don't mean to depress you. I think there are things you can do. Setting the vacationers right would be a good first step. It is terrible.

    My heartfelt sympathy.
    Very truly yours,
    Ann T.

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Thanks for stopping by - I'd love to hear what you have to say!