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Mama Deb
mamadeb
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December 2010
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Mama Deb [userpic]
HOME!

Okay, we got home last night. We spent Sunday to Thursday at my inlaws' in the Catskills, and brought them back to their city apartment.

Note: my in-laws' car was totaled after a single-car accident last summer. They spent the weekend in the hospital and my then-86-year-old father-in-law decided, wisely, that he would not drive again. My mother-in-law has not driven since she developed major eye problems ten years ago, and even before then, she really hated doing so. They managed very well this summer by organizing friends and neighbors to take them to synagogue and shopping and medical appointments, and using the bus to go to and from NYC for short trips. They managed well enough, in fact, that they are now confident that they can keep the country house for a few more years. As they love that house, it's a good thing. And, of course, they are completely free when in the city, thanks to excellent mass transit and many things in walking distance. As my mother-in-law is now using a light-weight shopping cart as a sort of walker to ease her sciatica, it's even better for them.

Knitting helped. Politics didn't - four rabid Democrats do NOT enjoy watching Republicans. Also, they insisted on watching what we did watch on PBS. I much prefer C-SPAN - no commentary at all. No interviews. I cooked one meal. We spent Tuesday going to Hobart, which is trying to become a book village. It's just starting, though, so it's not great yet, and to Biblio Barn. Biblio Barn *is* great. It's this huge old barn redone to be a gigantic and charming used book store, owned by a pair of former ministers. They're selling it, unfortunately, because they're in their sixties and realize that they need to live in a city so they don't need to drive any more. I hope that they sell it to people who also love books and want to continue selling them.

What also didn't help is my father-in-law's condition. He has almost no hearing left - his hearing aid for his one working ear barely compensates now, and he's lost all upper and lower ranges. He also had congestive heart failure last year and he was throwing blood clots earlier this year. That last is now under control and is being watched, but it's entirely likely he had some tiny strokes before that happened. And then there was that accident, and he apparently lost consciousness. To put it bluntly, he has memory damage. He has almost no short-term memory to speak of any more (and Baker men don't have that in abundance anyway), and he's finding all but impossible to learn new things or take on new routines, or even to use any initiative. He'll do what he's told to do cheerfully and well, and he'll take direction for new things right before doing them, and he's certainly as bright as he ever was, but Mom is not long on patience and she's scared and upset and she keeps hoping, I think, that he'll magically get back to where he was. So she shouts at him in frustration - and he doesn't hear it because she's gone past his hearing range. And so she gets more frustrated.

And, well. He's not taking photos anymore because there's no place for him to develope them himself - everyone's gone digital and he can't follow and "he's said all he wants to say." This is a man with two gorgeous granddaughters right here. He's not playing music anymore because he can't hear it, and he was a professional musician and music teacher, and was in a recorder group until just a couple of years ago, despite the hearing loss.

Jonathan now plays recorder better than he does. Except Dad's timing is still impeccable.

I love Dad very much. This has been hard. It's also hard seeing Mom - younger than my mother - walking so bent over. Not double, but not straight, either. She hurts a lot. When I think of my mother and her husband - still healthy and straight and active and traveling and doing things like that - I'm lucky. I'm incredibly lucky. It was that fall a few years ago, when Jonathan's mother broke her humerus. She was in pain for weeks, needed surgery to get it to heal and since she walked so off-balance, she developed terrible sciatica which she still has. It made her old. My own mother was in a car acccident before than and could have had such an injury but she escaped with a broken wrist that now has a touch of arthritis.

The other problem is the bed. We sleep in Jonathan's room on a high riser - two twin beds, one stored beneath the other on a frame that's supposed to pop up and lock. The beds are very old and saggy, but, also? The second bed doesn't lock. We could pick it up but it won't stay there. Guess where I sleep? Of the two of us, I'm the more agile, but. I'm not thirty years old anymore. I'm not FORTY years old anymore. I go to the bathroom (down a flight of stairs) in the night. And getting up and down from a low bed is getting difficult. The only good thing has been that I've been able to place a child's rocking chair at the head such that I have a facsimile of a head board. No more fishing for pillows. That helped a lot.

Next year, we sleep in the computer room where the high riser second bed *does* lock. There are disadvantages, of course, but it was so nice sleeping on my own bed, which is permanently bed height, last night.