Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The Bleakness of Winter

We're a season in to the new year and I feel like I can say with some degree of certainty that on December 31st I will be glad to say goodbye to 2019.

It seems like whenever I think that things will be getting more manageable, something comes up.

In December my aunt, who I'm fairly close with, called late in the evening. I could hear the desperation in her voice over the phone line. Her aunt, a "spinster", who she had been going over to check in on nightly after finding out that she had fallen earlier in the season, was having an episode. I arrived to find all sorts of items scattered across the front lawn. When I entered the house there were bags on every surface, containing items ranging from pajamas and toothbrushes to cutlery trays. I told my aunt that it was time to get help. We ended up admitting my great aunt to the hospital that night. It was upsetting, but certainly the best decision we could have made for her at that time.

Cue The Bug's birthday, and Christmas, and seasonal holiday travel.

My great aunt was discharged from hospital on December 31st. Definitely Alzheimer's. Also complications with her thyroid. Also a strong suspicion of breast cancer.

The next morning, the day we were returning from our holiday travel, my Nana was unexpectedly admitted to the hospital. She had gone in with stomach pain and they found cancer in her intestine, as well as in her lung.

The next week the kids went back to school and I started going to my great aunt's everyday. I did not begrudge her not remembering my name, or knowing how exactly I was related to her. And as unplanned and inconvenient as it was, I actually didn't mind going over to help take care of her. She is funny --full of silly little sayings, and stories that she likes to tell and retell. She has a positive disposition and pretty much just goes with the flow. Still, being there every day was hard. And, as I told my aunt, not sustainable. Come July my kids would be home with me for the summer and I couldn't be taking them over there every day for hours on end... never mind March Break when we would be headed back to Pennsylvania to visit Jen's family.

The fates smiled on us, and at the beginning of March, an acquaintance with experience taking care the elderly, told me she could help with my great aunt. I felt equal parts guilt and relief.

At pretty much the same time we found out that Jen's grandfather had fallen and hit his head. He had to have brain surgery, and at 93 years old, there were concerns.

I started writing the above over two weeks ago... I never did finish it because, the next day, when I thought I'd wrap it all up, Jen's grandfather died. I didn't get far on the explanation of things there, but essentially despite being pretty nimble both physically and mentally, the fall, and then the subsequent fall while in rehab after brain surgery #1, and then brain surgeries #2 and 3 were just too much for Pap to take. After several day in hospice, he let go. These things are so hard. He was  not going to recover, so in that way it was a relief, but also, he was only there because he stumbled and we should have had more time with him.

It was the kids first experience with (human) death. They handled it about how I would expect. A lot of questions. Some awkward revelations to well meaning friends and neighbours of our family's agnosticism, and exploration of what a belief in "God" might look like. Mostly appropriately somber behaviour.

We're settling back into being home after the second trip in less than two weeks. There is still upheaval here... my Nana is in the hospital again, my great aunt had a lumpectomy to remove what was, indeed, cancer, various other family heath issues in various degrees of treatment and recovery.

I owe updates. Like many, many updates. I've had the kids birthday ones written since pretty darn close to their birthdays (December and January, for those keeping track) but just needed
to upload the photos to include with them. I should have known better than to have jowaited. Anyway, maybe I can carve out a few minutes and get those up soon-ish. Blogging, though on my mind, hasn't been at the top noon of my to-do list. Just basic self-care like eating and bathing have been a struggle to get in some days. But I am and will continue to try. I'll probably jinx myself by saying this, but I can't imagine things getting any more hectic than they have been the past few weeks.

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