When Ray was ill, he was lucid and himself -- weak, but himself -- until just a week or two before his passing. Hard as it was, we had that time together. Others have gone quickly, without warning. Those who love them remember them as whole, healthy, normal -- right to the end. It's a reminder that we must part as we mean to go on, never knowing if that person who is so important in our lives will come home at the end of the day, or wake up in the morning. Let each parting reflect your love, your caring ....
I decided that it would be much harder to loose someone bit by bit, loose the person but still have the shell, the living body, to deal with long after the personality has left. Now I am watching it happen in my father. Last night, uncharacteristically, he sat in the living room, a blank look in his eyes, for 15 minutes or so after Mother went to bed. I asked him if he needed anything. He said no. A few minutes later I found him standing in the hallway, looking at a light switch. Two lamps were still burning in the living room. Again I asked if I could help. He said no, he was going upstairs to bed, but (with emphasis) needed to make sure the lights were out before he went up. I realized he was not in Hawaii. He was in his boyhood home, the house that his father built at 3718 Vista Street in Long Beach, California.
He started down the hall, away from his own room. I felt that he was heading for my room, where one light was burning. After all, I was still awake! He had also left the light on in the bathroom, and wondered aloud if it was occupied. It took considerable coaxing to get him turned around and aimed in the direction of his own bedroom. Then he decided he needed a shower before bed. I listed to the water running in the bathroom, then watched the light in his bedroom. Eventually I went to check, and found him asleep -- sheet pulling off all four corners of the bed, blanket (wool, at least 75 degrees in the house ...) carelessly thrown over his body. I tiptoed back to bed.
It was the end of a trying day. He wasn't really with us at breakfast or lunch. He came to the table to eat, then went immediately back to bed and to sleep. At dinner he turned down barbequed spare ribs, usually something he likes. He said he couldn't quite figure out what they were. In general, he eats green salads with tomato (but not cucumber or other crunchy additions), and soft foots that go down without much chewing. His dentures are spending most of their time in their little bowl of water in the bathroom. He eats anything sweet, but cannot open sealed containers, including those pesky chip bags. Hey, we've all been having trouble with those for years!
The time is fast approaching when we are going to have to find alternative care options. I was concerned about leaving him awake and untended last night, so deliberately stayed awake with the door to my room opened to make sure he didn't wander out of the house. He will be livid if we elect to move him, but this house is not capable of accommodating full time care givers with any degree of privacy for anyone. But the resources are out there to help us, and we are becoming more aware of them.
So -- look for the good. Give thanks. Keep praying .....