Monday, November 20, 2023

Next chapter

I'm here. There's lots to process since Mom's passing. 

I think the best possibility is to relocate to the family home in Massachusetts. Knowing that Dad's 84, in a fragile mental condition and living alone screams a message of need to me. My Wife and I had been talking for years about moving out of rural Nevada. We both have family in New England. There are possibilities for her to stay with a cousin while I get the family home in better condition and able to house us.

My sister seems okay with the idea of assisted living for Dad but it seems irresponsibly expensive. He's in a place that has been home for more than 50 years. It's like "muscle memory," he knows the quirks of the house. Mom and Dad lived frugally and amassed a reasonable nest egg. One night Dad was on a rant about needing to be in a nursing home or "old folks" home. I asked if he was comfortable spending thousands of dollars each month for such a thing. He was shocked when I gave him the number for living in one of those places. For now, we're still in Nevada and my sister and her husband are 30 minutes away from Dad but I think they're beyond burned out on taking care of old people.

Mom's funeral was a nice gathering for our family.  I got to see friends and family members that I've not seen in 30 years. We'd worried that nobody would show up. We were wrong, very wrong. I think we had about 50 at the funeral and 35 at the dinner.

Aside from my wife, all of my immediate family was there. Dad, Sister, Brother in Law, my three kids and Son's wife and my ex-wife. She and her husband went east back in September and made a point to have dinner with the family. Mom was very happy to have seen them. We had no idea that she'd pass shortly after.  Despite the circumstances, everyone was great. We had a very nice visit, My Son has never been back to Massachusetts since we left and his Wife had never been. They got to see things that blew their minds. A few years ago, my daughters had come with me for my cousin's wedding. We spent time exploring things that they had found online.  Places like Emily Dickinson's house and the Beneski Museum of Natural History, both in Amherst Massachusetts. At my first job, I worked down the street and unknowingly drove by the place lots of times. For this trip, the kids all decided to see the Beneski again. My Daughter in Law wanted to see it. I had other plans for part of the day so I got there about an hour before closing and had time to look at most of the fossils.  After that, we went to Yankee Candle in South Deerfield, we stayed until closing at Yankee and then drove up to the condo we rented before moving west so the kids could see it. This was Tuesday, the day after the funeral. Everyone was scheduled to fly out late Wednesday afternoon which gave us another chance to share lunch with Dad and my Sister and her Husband. The family had to be out of their AirBnB by 10, so Dad and I went to help wrap up the move-out. It was a cold and wet morning. After leaving, the kids wanted to visit a store they'd seen while driving to their Mom's friend. That turned out to be a wild goose chase but it was an adventure when it started snowing... on November first. We had some extra time before our lunch date so we went to see dinosaur tracks along the Connecticut river in Holyoke. Another place that I've been by countless times and had no idea that it existed. My ex and I lived almost directly across the river even. The kids and I went out into the rain and looked at the the many tracks, their Mom and my Dad stayed in the warm car and out of the rain.

There's more.

I'll follow up soon.

thanks for being here for me.


Friday, November 17, 2023

Eleven Seventeen. One month and two days since...

 Yup, I've not posted since August. 

Things. You know.

Just... Things.

85 years, my Mom lived 85 years and two weeks.

I spent three weeks back east.

My birthday morning, I had a text message from a lifelong friend asking if I was aware that an ambulance was dispatched to my family's home. It was the first word I'd had that something was bad. Mom had been having a hard getting rest and not eating well. I contacted my sister who told me that Mom seemed to be doing okay after getting to the hospital. Ultimately we'd later learn that on the morning that Mom was taken to the hospital she'd had a heart attack overnight and an abdominal mass was later discovered. She spoke to the doctors about wanting to live and was prepped for surgery to address the mass. It was bad. Worse than anyone had expected. Wednesday afternoon, Mom and my sister sang a birthday greeting to me. I never expected for that to be the last time I'd hear Mom's voice. She went to surgery Thursday or Friday (it's a blur). I made arrangements to travel, arriving Friday evening. Surgery found that there was a cancerous mass that had attached to and constricted her internal organs. They took what they could but the mass was too aggressive. Mom was on a ventilator and all types of meds to force her heart to beat to maintain blood pressure. She was heavily sedated but was able to give feedback by squeezing our hand or wrinkling her forehead. She had previously expressed that she had no desire to live connected to machines in a vegetative state. She passed peacefully late Sunday night, five days after being taken in the ambulance.

My Dad's short term memory is gone. He has no concept of what happened yesterday or this morning or a few minutes ago. During the three weeks I'd stayed at the house, there were a couple of nights where Dad would knock at my bedroom door and ask where Mom was... There were evenings that I'd have to remind Dad that Mom's gone.. It's heartbreaking. Almost like living in the movie "Fifty first dates" or 'Groundhog Day." Having to relive the experience of telling Dad that his wife of 64 years is gone... Doing this over and over and over. Sometimes, multiple times per day. Still happens, He called a couple nights ago.

And by now you're asking if he's been diagnosed with any medical or brain condition. No,he hasn't. I think Mom and my sister were too proud to be frank with the doctors. I can't say what was discussed with the most recent doctor visit that happened this week. I haven't had a chance to go over it with my sister.

I think I'm going to move across the continent to take care of Dad. My sister has been taking care of both parents, nearly every day for at least five years. She retired last year and hasn't had a chance to have time off. 

There are some good things that have happened from losing Mom. While I was at the house, I told him about my gender identity. I openly dressed in female type clothing around the house and a couple of times when we'd gone out. Really, there is nothing good about losing Mom. Nothing.

I'll add to this story later. This has been a long week. I've been back home for two weeks and it's been non-stop.

Remember to call your loved ones, someday they won't be there and you'll wish they were able to answer your phone call.