Monday, April 19, 2010

The Parent Swap

As you may recall, Fran has gone to live with the new love of her life, Molly.
In February, Mike was asked to leave Assisted Living. I think the last straw was when Mike came down into the lobby area sans pants. Once again, it was time to move a parent.
When we added on the Frannex, my intention was to only have Fran live in our household. I had concerns about Mike living in the house with the boys.
My father's ideas about raising children are much different than mine. I tend to think of my children as distinct little satellites launched from my planet, acquiring resources, knowledge and skills in close orbit before they slingshot out of my gravity to go explore the universe. I believe Mike felt that his children were a reflection and extension of himself therefore he tried to control his children to ensure a positive reflection of him. We kids needed to be under Mike's control and command at all times, lest we veer from the party line, and knock holes in Mike's stage set of family life. Mike enforced his control in a variety of ways that would be considered "unhealthy" now, and I was worried that he would cause harm to the boys. When Mike was evicted from assisted living, I warily moved him into the Frannex, while we sorted out what to do. My brother and sister-in-law offered to take him on a permanent basis, but I felt that would be an extreme hardship for them since they both work outside the home. Having done the Fran care for a year, I know the amount of time and energy it takes to care for the demented parent. It's not like having a cute toddler that a friend or neighbor will watch while you go to your chiropractor. Mike is a high maintenance person, he needs one on-one-care, all his waking hours. He won't sit by himself and watch t.v., and if he finds himself alone, he will get up and look for his people. So I kept the boys apart from Mike and went out on the Memory Care tour.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Memory Care (heart)

Memory Care is a sweet euphemism for "Locked Ward". Although every effort has been made to make the facility light and cheery, there's no getting around the truth that nobody in your family can take full-time care of you anymore and this is your last stop. There's a certain amount of stage dressing and salesmanship that is necessary to make it palatable to family members. My latest tour include a visit to a large corporate facility with Assisted Living and Memory Care units. I met the perky, sexily dressed salesperson, er, community relations coordinator, and she took me for a tour of the Memory Care wing. As soon Mike and I stepped off the elevator she did a strange sort of shielding maneuver to shepherd us around the corner. Not fast enough apparently, to avoid the catcalls of an elderly gentleman seated directly across from the doors. As our guide tried to attract the attention of the nursing staff, the old guy caught sight of our party. "Shake it!" he leered and me, and I obliged. Just doing my part to improve the daily lives of the residents! Our guide apologized, "I was trying to hurry you past Fred, because sometimes he makes inappropriate remarks." Mike and I joined in on the exercise group, where 70% of the residents are unable to sit up in their wheelchairs, much less rotate their ankles. Mostly they just curl up and doze. Mike was definitely the most alert and agile patient in the room, over and above some of the caregivers, even. He quickly attached himself to a genial old fellow named Nigel, who had a jolly demeanor which made his gibberish quite pleasant to listen to. After the class, we wheeled Nigel down to group singing class. We passed Nigel's room which listed Nigel's achievements in life, including his accolades in the fields of academics and physics. I Googled Nigel later and discovered he had made ground breaking discoveries in aeronautics. Poignant, no?
It was rapidly becoming clear to me, that Mike was not ready for Memory Care, and I was not ready to send him there. It was time to revisit a decision I had made when Mike first became incapacitated. Maybe it could work: Should I move Mike permanently into the Frannex?

Monday, January 11, 2010


What a day this has been.

This morning I woke up, inspired by how much I was going to get done today! I was going to finish my paper work that is due in 2 days, shovel some compost onto the garden beds, drop off the sewing machine at the repair shop, go to the gym, go visit Fran, pick up the grocery order, and complete several other tasks on my to do list. JJ was dressed and getting ready to go to school with Steven. Grant was having a good sleep in. It all looked promising.

Then Grant comes out from his bedroom and says "I'm a baby kitty." I know this is a bad sign. This is Grant's code for "I'm a helpless baby, and I need your total undivided attentiton."

We will spend the rest of the day negotiating. I'll get the groceries picked up and the sewing machine dropped off. Grant will wet his pants three times (once at the library) and pee in the lid of JJ's Cariboo Island game. Grant will continue his project to unscrew every door lock in the house and lose the parts. Out of the blue, Grant will run up and bite me on the breast, hard enough to bruise. I will be strained to my limits several times. I will not beat him. I will try to stay present.

Steven gets home at 6:45. He's had a lot going on at work. He's stressed. I slink off to the bedroom, justifying my craven retreat with the fact that I cooked him dinner. Within 3 minutes both boys have discovered I am missing and seek me out. Grant has crawled under the bed to avoid being evicted from our bedroom.

Steven says to Grant, "I love you Grant" and he yells "no you don't". He's three and a half.