It's amazing to me that I turned out with any sense of decency and respect for my elders and other relatives at all. With the wonderful example I grew up with, I'm surprised I didn't cut myself off from everyone, move away and try to make sure there were no way for anyone to contact me.
Grandma and Grandpa are doing OK. Neither is happy they have to live in an assisted living type facility at the moment, but they're getting by. Gramps runs to the window every time a train goes by to count the cars and the number of engines on each end. Grandma chats amicably with anyone that's around. Gramps talks much better than he did last time I was down there, though the rest of him seems to be slowing down considerably.
The cracks are beginning to show in his memory. Nothing big, and nothing painful, but little things sometimes show up as missing. It's hard to watch, yet he takes it all in stride.
Grandma's mind has always been rough around the edges. At this point, there's so little left. At one point we were walking down the hallway and she said she hoped she'd never have to live in a place like that. Gramps just shook his head. That's got to take a toll on him.
The workers there are very nice people. That helps tremendously. The head nurse will not tolerate anyone being disrespectful to the residents on any level, and comes across as a kind and decent person to boot. I only met one person who seemed not quite right, and that was a kitchen worker who by my guess had had a really, really rough day. All of the nurses and other staff aside from her seemed really good. Efficient without being neglectful of any one person, taking time to chat with folks as they refilled their ice-water, cleaned their rooms, offered them snacks or meals, or brought them their pills and/or eyedrops.
I'm thankful they're surrounded by folks that realize these are good people in their care. It doesn't make the situation feel any better, but it makes it easier to deal with.
And mom? Well, mom. Uncle's about ready to strangle her. After my trip, I can't say I blame him. Here were her questions, in the order they were asked when I got back:
- Has the house been cleaned out yet? (i.e. any buried treasure?)
- Has uncle sold their car yet?
- Anyone keeping track of what's spent on them? (No, I'm sure that never occurred to anyone.)
Screw it, I'm not going on. The pattern is established and you get my point.
Uncle wonders why she refuses to come visit. She had been going down there quite a bit before. Now that they're in a home, she refuses. No one can make sense of it. And she asks me if I think she should go? I say she should. But she makes it clear she's not going to unless the end is near. WTF? These people spent two winters with her after the divorce. Uprooted their entire lives and lived in that little shithole apartment with her and MK back when the little furball was still with her. Not to mention raising her and. . . .
I'm not going to forget this. When the time comes, and it will with the way she deals with her health, I'll remind her of this behavior. I won't treat her that way, because it's horseshit. But I will remind her. Because I'm a good son.
Pardon. Something stuck in my throat there.
The sappy version of my trip is up at my home site, which has finally had a makeover after several years of letting it sit dormant or getting piles of new unlinked folders on it. Still have some work to do on it, but it's usable, readable, and workable now.
The weather was great the day I was there. Little chilly, but sunny. Fog on the road both ways. People driving like idiots. Eighty plus miles per on icy roads with 1/4 mile visibility is not my idea of intelligence, but whatever. I survived by driving a little more defensively than normal, which is pretty freakin' defensive. The trip felt longer than normal by a lot. Felt WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY longer than it did when I did it on the bike this past summer. Speed has something to do with it, I'm sure, but mostly that damnable fog. Not being able to see anything coming up, the features of the land around you, just white and grey, mist and shadow, mile after mile. Bleh.
Uncle, cousin #1 and I partook of a little Black Velvet my last evening there and had a pleasant chat along with aunt. She didn't drink because she had to go into work that night. Things are surprisingly mellow between us after all the years of tension. Priorities have shifted for both uncle and myself, and neither of us is willing to continue to hold a grudge over stupidities we perpetuated some fifteen years or more ago. Funny how that happens. As I said on the home site, everything's "exactly the same, but just a little bit different."
LLT seems to have gained yet more weight while I was gone. Mrs. NFB kept her fed really well. I'm proud of her. My other critters are all safe and sound too. She did really good.
We spent the day yesterday catching up and enjoying each other's company. It was a nice, fairly lazy day. Altogether a not a horrible long weekend.
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