Friday, May 28, 2010

Long and Winding Road

I can be a rather dramatic person.
I can sometimes exaggerate the truth a little. Okay a lot.
I can sometimes see boogy men where there aren't any.
Except that I am a kind of a scaredy-cat girl who if the British were coming, I would have wanted to be hiding somewhere in the silver factory hiding behind a shelf full of candle sticks instead of on the trail, on a horse, announcing their arrival, there is a good chance that in another time and place, I could have been Paul Revere spreading the news like a CNN ticker tape.
Okay, so I am really more like Chicken Little declaring the sky is falling. You might want to take this with a shaker full of salt.

Every since my sisters were here I've been thinking my Dad was doing well both physically and emotionally. Dare I say he's been easy to be with, even enjoyable.
However, for the last couple of days, maybe since the Symphony outing, he's had what he told the Hospice Nurse "the blahs." Immediately she, and I, thought he was talking about emotional blahs. Nope, he'd never cop to feeling depressed. He was feeling physically blah, as in no poop, not be confused with constipation his constant companion. He's so tired you can see he's tired.

I've also noticed he hasn't eaten a lot lately. He still sits at the table 3 times a day. But the portions he consumes aren't very big. Each meal is followed by a long nap. He doesn't say anything but I watch when he tries to swallow and his muscles just aren't taking food or drink down the esophagus the way they should. This morning he choked the worse I've seen. Not a big coughing choke, more like something was stuck deciding if it should go down or come up. I asked if he needed a pat on the back but he said no. I could tell he was having to concentrate hard to think "swallow" so his brain would tell his swallower to move. It didn't help that it was causing him to have a hard time breathing. Finally, he took one last swig of cold coffee, and headed for his recliner. The whole thing really tired him out.

Yesterday was bath day. When Dad came out of the bathroom he was huffing and puffing like he'd just run from one end of the house to the other. It doesn't take much to wind him these days. He thinks it might be time to get someone in to bathe him. He's afraid he might fall (big concession here - Big- that he might be fearful). He can't dry himself. It takes longer to catch his breath than to shower.

I think these are all signs that he is in a state of decline. Which doesn't mean I think he's on death's door. But I think (read, worry) death's door may be opening a little and whoever is behind it may be beckoning.

One time when my mother was alive she managed to wake up and get up before him. I know she loved it. Her own quiet time with no one hovering over her. When I got up a couple of hours later she told me she thought he was "gone." (Mom had some brain damage that affected her ability to speak - to name things. I lived with her long enough to be able to decipher what she was saying most of the time. Dog sometimes meant Cat, but NO always meant NO!) I knew what gone meant. We walked down the hall and peeked into the room. She was right. Dad was still in bed, barely moving. Mom let me go in first, but like a little kid stayed close behind me holding onto my hand not sure if she wanted to open her eyes and see or keep them shut tight. I had to get right up next to the bed before I could see Dad was breathing. I nodded that he was okay and Mom stopped holding her breath. We tiptoed out and let him sleep.

I've started thinking about that every morning when I get up. I look in on him from the hall on the way to the bathroom but I'm afraid to get too close. In all honesty I'd be relieved to know that he went to sleep one night and awoke the next morning in heaven. Still I don't want to go in room and discover that he is not breathing.

I don't want to see my dad grow weak and fade away. I don't want him to suffer. I know what's coming. I signed on for the long haul.

I know it's really really selfish of me but I don't want him to be gone.

Wishing for you a hand to hold when you're scared,
Merry ME

P.S. I shouldn't close this "alarming" post without saying that after Dad's first nap of the day he woke up pretty chipper. We piled into my car and headed to a nursery to buy some hydrangeas. They are in full bloom all over my neighborhood. Since we have some holes in the landscaping Dad wanted to get some more. It's really kind of fun to go places with him. I let Sweetie's Garmon GPS guide us to where we were going and Dad thought that was pretty neat. I must say we'd have spent a lot more time searching for the right turn off if I hadn't used it.

The trip took a little over an hour and once we got home he settled right back down in his chair to sleep again. See what I mean. It doesn't take a lot to wear him out. At least this was the enjoyable kind of wearing him out, not the choking kind.

P.S.S. While at the nursery the really nice lady that helped us told me how she talks to each of the plants (this was a big nursery, so that's a lot of plants and a lot of talking!). It's like she was saying goodbye to her babies as she gently laid them in the back of our car. I decided I also wanted to get some roses I've been seeing everywhere. She told me they grow all year long. Not thinking it was too dumb, or dorky a question, I asked if there was anything special I should know about planting them. She looked at me and said, "you're a beginner aren't you." Well, yeh, but how could she tell? That it took me three tries to get to the right driveway? That I needed a GPS to get me to the Florida Nursery and Growers Association which is probably top on any self respecting "non-beginner's" list of places to buy really nice plants? That I had asked, upon seeing the speckled flowers on her oak leaf hydrangeas, if mine would have speckles too? (Her answer, well honey, I don't know what kind you've got.")

All that happened in a nano second. Then she looked at me and said, with all kinds of sincerity and just a hint of sarcasm, "dig a hole." Why hadn't I thought of that?

P.S.S.S. Pam this one's for you:
For some reason I can't figure why Florida's southern Magnolias are just beginning to bloom and Pennsylvania's pink magnolias have finished blooming. All the flowers I've seen have been way up high impossible to photograph. But right outside the gate to the nursery office sat this beauty. I hope Sandra didn't see me stopping to take a picture, or she might have noticed that my battery was in upside down so it wasn't working. She might have rolled her eyes and said something like, honey, just turn it on.



Anonymous said...

First I cried, and then I laughed. Sounded like you were reading a page from my life! Thanks!

Molly said...

oh, this makes me remember letting go of my granddad. you're doing good, Merry.

terri st. cloud said...

oh mary....passin my flashlight your way. we can curl in together and share it.......

Fire Byrd said...

Watching the life slowly ebb away sucks. Being frightened of them not being there sucks.
Being overwhelmed with dealing with it all sucks.
But love will keep you going through the dark nights, I know.

Pamela Jones said...

Dear Paul Revere,

Would it be so awful if you lingered among the shelves and counted the candlesticks while Sweetie made the first trip into Dad's room each morning?

I think you're supposed to want to keep your Dad -- for as long as you possibly can! The only way to help him at this stage of his life is to choose to be "both feet in," and that brings you very close and feels very vulnerable. You're doing great...your compassion shines through in your words.

Thanks for the posey! Ours are long-gone.

AkasaWolfSong said...

Once again I'm crying as it brings to memory my own Father and his year long departure from this world.

Mary, I wish I had wise words but there are none...only to say embrace it all. You are already wise and knowing and I think you are brave and courageous too. Grieving begins long before the body leaves and perhaps what you are witnessing and experiencing are small miracles...look at the closeness you have with your Father now that just a short while ago had you in tatters...
Each Sister here has you wrapped up in Love...that connection which brings us all together...and I'm sending you mine right now. For those times of doubt and fear, anger and happiness, whenever you may need it. Listen to your heart won't steer you wrongly, you can hide if you want to or be as brazen as a bright orange flower.

I love you!

Tracey Catarozoli a.k.a Sally Sunshine said...

Mary - beautiful posting about the love of a daughter and her Daddy. God gives us light so we know dark, sickness so we know health, and daughters to know the strong and special love of of our Daddys. xxoo

Unknown said...

It's hard to see a loved one leaving you. I felt your turmoil. But God is merciful and gives us some good times to hang on to, like plant shopping with your dad. You saw beauty there,and will remember that.
God bless.