Friday, May 25, 2012

MIRACLES OF THE UNIVERSE It all started with a joke about a serious situation. I'd just arrived in Kentucky to visit my sister and 80-year-old daddy. We'd driven the six miles from Kathy's house to the farmhouse where he'd lived for the past 40 years to find him confused and frustrated, his various pills scattered about the kitchen table. Kathy, his caregiver for the past ten years since he started showing signs of dementia, was meticulous about his meds, placing them in AM and PM-labeled holders with strict instructions that he take them in the morning and in the evening only. When she asked him why his meds were all scattered about, he responded, "I don't know." I was shocked at Daddy's deterioration since last summer. Not only was he much more confused than last year, he looked frail and ill. For the past few years, Kathy and I had been discussing the need for him to live closer to her. (They're in the same town, but on opposite ends, a ten-minute drive away from each other.) In fact, tentative plans had been made a year or so ago when Kathy bought a duplex within walking distance of her house, but when it came right down to it, Daddy refused to move--and Kathy wasn't ready to push the issue, so she rented out the duplex. But just a few days before my visit, one of the tenants up and moved out, without giving notice. That was the first miracle. The second miracle--she left the place in "move-in" condition. Not spick and span, but clean enough. So, once Kathy straightened out the pill situation, and we were heading back to her house, I brought up the “what should we do about Daddy” subject. “It’s the perfect time to move him into the duplex,” I said. She sighed. “Yeah, I’m up for it if you can convince him. You know how stubborn he is.” And that’s when I made the joke. “Maybe we can drug him so he’ll sleep a few days, and we can move him without his permission.” Instead of laughing, Kathy was silent for a moment. Then she said, “That’s not a bad idea.” And that’s when we came up with the idea about taking him to the VA Hospital in Lexington. If we could get them to admit him for tests for a couple of nights, we could move him into the duplex. It would be a hell of a lot of work, but something needed to be done. Kathy made some phone calls and when a nurse at VA Hospital heard about the medication situation, she urged us to bring him into the ER the next day, and tell them the situation, and she was sure they could come up with an answer. And that’s exactly what we did. No, they didn’t admit him, but the doctor who examined Daddy had a frank conversation with him, telling him how he had three daughters who cared about him, and wanted to take care of him, but the situation as it was, just wasn’t working. He gave him the choice—move into the duplex or go into a nursing home. Daddy seemed to understand, and he readily agreed to the duplex. (The third miracle.) The doctor was emphatic that Daddy wouldn’t be returning to the farmhouse—not even for one more night. He had to stay in Kathy’s house while she and I took care of the move. The drive home from Lexington was heartbreaking. Every so often Daddy would say something about going “home,” and we’d have to explain the situation over and over again. He’d appear to accept it, saying something like, “Well, I guess this is just one of those things you have to deal with,” but then moments later, when we’d say something about moving him into the duplex, he’d say, “You mean I’m not going home?” This scenario went on all night and pretty much all the next day. I stayed with Daddy while Kathy organized a crew to go to the farmhouse and pick up the important things—his bed, chair, TV, dresser…things he’d need immediately. By late afternoon, all those things were moved in, and we took Daddy over to see the place. He walked around it and agreed that it was nice, but that “it’s way too much room for me.” We noticed, though, that his confusion wasn’t nearly as bad. It was almost as if deep inside, he was relieved about being closer to Kathy. (The fourth miracle.) The next day, Daddy seemed to be more like his old self, so Kathy and I left him at her house with the TV, and we drove back to the farmhouse to pack up other essentials—dishes, pots and pans, clothing, food. By Thursday evening, the duplex looked like a home. Almost all the unpacking had been done (fifth miracle!) and we’d scheduled the satellite dish people to come out and hook up the TV the next afternoon (a must because Daddy likes his TV, although he complains nothing good is ever on.) We’d left an old, ratty sofa in the farmhouse, and on Friday morning Kathy and I went out looking for a nice used sofa. First stop: J&J ____ on Main Street, the same place I’d bought this gorgeous breakfast bar set last summer for an insanely good deal. (It’s one of those places you never know what they’ll have, and it’s all new stuff, too.) Well, lo and behold—the place had a bunch of sofas! But not only that—they were 20% off because of Mother’s Day. (Sixth miracle!) We got a really nice loveseat with two reclining seats for $200, moved it into Kathy’s house, then moved her beautiful black leather sofa into Daddy’s place. (Yes, just the two of us. We were that determined.) We also took advantage of the Mother’s Day sale and bought him a gorgeous recliner with massage, a light and heat—an early Father’s Day/birthday present. (He sat in for a few moments and pronounced it too hard.) Okay…so, no miracle there. By Friday evening, Daddy had TV and a nicely-furnished new place. This had all happened in the space of 72 hours. Kathy and I were exhausted, but pleased with what we’d accomplished in three days. I can’t say that Daddy is 100% onboard with his new life—he has his argumentative moments, Kathy says—but one thing is for sure. He is in a safer situation now. We know there will probably come a time that he’ll have to go into a nursing home, but for right now, this is the best thing. Kathy still has a tough row to hoe, and I thank God every day that she’s there for Daddy. I’m so, so grateful that he has her there, and for all she does. I wish I could do more to help, but when I live 12 hours away, there’s only so much I can do. I think with moving him into the duplex, though, we’ve made life easier for Kathy—and safer, and hopefully, more satisfying for Daddy. Needless to say, with all this going on, I haven’t had a lot of time to devote to my career. I’ve done a few radio interviews for LILY OF THE SPRINGS, and I did a guest blog at The Romance Writer’s Read website. You can check it out at this link: Be sure and stop by my website and enter my contest for June. You can win a copy of LILY OF THE SPRINGS, BORDER CROSSINGS or TANGO’S EDGE—and some jewelry from my Beautiful Evening Beads collection. So, until next time…Happy Memorial Day! Carole