Sunday, October 29, 2006

Making Lemonade from Lemons

Our weekend trip to Maryland wasn't without a few little glitches. One of the them was the head cold that hit me with striking force the night before we left, hey, but that's OKAAAY. It rained steadily for the the entire seven-hour drive northeast on Friday, but that's OKAAAY. We drove more than eighteen hours over three days, but that's OKAAAY. We salvaged what we could and had a good time!

My Dad looked better than I expected but not as good as when I saw him last on June 1st. His nursing home arrangements are in the works and he should be placed within a few weeks. He was sitting in his wheelchair in my brother's family room, watching the Disney Channel, and we said, "Hey, Dad!" His eyes brightened and he smiled and said, "Hello, Thank You!" "Thank You" and "OK" are his default replies for everything. Maybe he recognized us - no, he didn't - because he thinks I'm one of his sisters and he didn't know who in the heck Michael was...

My Dad, who has been partially paralyzed and wheel chair and bed bound for eleven years can smile but doesn't remember his late wife of forty-six years. Oh, so sad. Yes, he laughs and is full of thanks for any attention given to him. And for that, I am thankful. He has his moments of grumpiness, but, for the most part, he's a happy soul who is completely tickled to have a pudding cup for a snack while viewing the History Channel on TV.

On Friday night, I saw him watching me very intently over his bed while I was talking to my sister-in-law. He was looking up at me with a very soft and thoughtful look on his face and eyes, and half-smiling, as if he was trying to pull me up and out from his memory bank to know who was standing over him. This moved me so... I remember that same gaze and look in his eyes on my wedding day.

Placement in a nursing home is very necessary for Dad and my brother, too. My brother is on the brink of insanity from not only caring for Dad in the evenings (actually 24-7) and scheduling nursing care, but from dealing with his deteriorating family life and personal life, as well. He's done as much as he can but Dad's health issues have become too complex for the visiting nurses or anyone else in the house. Caregivers seem to suffer the most. After all, Mom is gone. She did a commendable job. I guess I'm writing this to convince myself that there are unpleasant decisions to make during a lifetime and it's OKAAAY.

The weather in Maryland was raw, wet, and windy. Wind gusts of 45-50 miles per hour slapped us along side our heads. I visited Mom's grave and decorated it while wind and debris blew me around and nearly tore the jacket off my back but I got the job done!

Fall colors were exhuberant throughout the three states and I was especially impressed with Lake Gaston and Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia. The color scenes were breathtaking. If I weren't driving, I would have photographed those gorgeous Fall colors. When driving back to North Carolina today, I could see that the winds that struck the region, stripped the colors from the trees, and many of them were naked and ready for winter.

Our friends had to tie down their boat on Saturday evening. A wind advisory...

The winds made white caps along the sides of the pier!

I couldn't resist this photo even though I was risking being blown off the side of the pier.

At last! A year-long craving, SATISFIED!

A cup of cream of crab soup, and....Maryland Steamed Crabs. Heavenly! These were packed heavily and seasoned to perfection. I'm going to rely on Fed Ex to have this treat more often.


Anonymous said...


Your famuly is making the right decision. Glad to know you had some sort of enjoyment during the trip. -- Lizard

LauraHinNJ said...

The weather wasn't good for travelling this weekend - glad you made it okay.

Must be hard with your dad - hope the transition to a nursing home goes smoothly for all.

The thing that struck me in your description of his behavior is that he's responding to feeling loved - though he doesn't know who you are, he senses your love and concern and I hope that is a comfort to him in the confusion he faces.

Mary said...


He does respond to conversation around him. That's the heart-breaking part...he's trying to grasp at something he knows but the ability is slowly leaving him. The look on his face tells me he's at peace, though. So, we like to shake him up a bit and do anything to make him laugh or curse, like telling him the History Channel has been cancelled by Comcast! After learning the real truth about it, he slept like a baby that night and was so relieved! Thanks for your input, Laura.

Anonymous said...

Mary, although these times might seem sad, they are most precious that you will hold fondly in your heart in the years to come. I lost my Dad 10 years ago. What I would give to sit with him whether he recognized me or not. You seem to be handling this situation very well. I know it can be heartbreaking at times, but you and your brother are definitely making the right decision! I hope your brother is holding up well. Ruth U.

Anonymous said...

Mary, thank you so much for directing me to this post. It is such a lovely tribute to your dad, mom and brother.

My dad hasn't yet gotten to that stage, but I know he's heading there. I've bookmarked this post to refer to in the months ahead.