Thursday, May 12, 2005

Sorting Memories

I spent the day with my mother today. She wanted me to accompany her to my grandfather's apartment, to start sorting through his things. You see he will not be returning there, but living in the care center from now on. His health is at the point where he needs someone to be with him 24 hours a day. Not because he can not do anything for himself (on his good days he can do more), but because he needs someone there in case he can't. He is no longer able to operate a vehicle. He is starting to not remember things and has small bouts of what some would call "forgetfulness" and others "Alzheimers". He doesn't always eat, and needs to be monitored for food and fluid intake. And as you know from my posts about his many hospital visits, he needs the care of medically trained people. Now my father and my youngest uncle are the ones who have been taking care of him ever since my grandmother died in the late 90's. They would go over to his place a couple of nights a week each and help him with anything and have dinner with him. If he needed something they were there, etc. My other Uncles have not done so. They have not even offered any help what-so-ever even after his big hospitalizations. However, now that they know that the apartment has to be let go they have put in bids for the heirlooms. (We are talking about the only "money" heirlooms--a Maxfield Parish print worth thousands and a marble topped table that belonged to my great-great-great grandmother who was from a rich New England family, etc.) It seems callous and cold that these things obviously mean more to them than their father. Even knowing that they want these items, they have not offered to come help and clear out the apartment. You'd think they'd at least show up and get these things they want. Nope. Apparently they expect the other two (their younger brothers) to take care of it all and deliver "their" items as well. It is quite frustrating and very selfish. It makes me wonder what they asked for when my grandmother passed on. She left certain things to people*, but I am sure that they must have "claimed" some things as well that my parents didn't talk about. Another big part in all of this is the grief or stress of the whole situation. No one wants him to be in the care center. But he needs to be there. My youngest cousin is giving her parents (the youngest uncle and his wife) the guilt trip. Her maternal grandmother was sick for years (breathing problems mostly) and she was able to stay with them until she passed. This youngest cousin (currently in college) is giving them flak over the fact that they didn't put her in a home, why are they doing this to grandpa? I think it is more an emotional response on her part. No one likes the fact that he is there. But to have him out he would have to live in a house with a relative. Said relative would have to be able to be with him 24 hours a day. They would also have to be able to have the strength to help him bathe, etc. And then there are the medical things, which they can not provide (IVs, monitoring, etc.) and would have to hire a private nurse to either be there part time or make home visits. The only people I can see taking on this task would be my parents or my youngest uncle and his wife. My father works 6 to 7 days a week. My mother is unemployed due to the fact she became disabled from her previous job. My uncle works 6 to 7 days a week and his wife works 5 days a week. Obviously the only person who can be there 24 hours a day doesn't have the physical strength to take care of him. For anyone to stay home and not work would cause financial strain. And soon they would not be able to afford to take care of him. None of them has the medical training to help him in an emergency. The care center can do all of those things and more. Being able to work means that they can make the money that will help cover what insurance does not for his care. Heaven forbid that if he was living with them that something would happen while they were at work. I only hope that said cousin comes to realize this and knows that he is not there because her parents don't care. But that he is there because they do care. Being in the empty apartment is strange. Going through the drawers, etc. is even stranger. You feel like a peeping tom poking into private papers, saved memories and assorted clothing. My mom could not stand being there for long. She has spent more time at this apartment (he has lived there for about 6 years). I think the emptiness would have been more so if it was their old house we had to go through. There are so many memories we made there. The only ones we have of the apartment are ones of my grandmothers and now my grandfathers illnesses. I am going to be haunted by the shadow of those memories all next week as I help my mother sort, pack and clean up his life. I think it will be harder on her, my father and my uncle. For in doing this it closes another door, and faces all of us with the harsh reality of a life that soon may end. *Each granddaughter was left a ring. My mother has mine somewhere, I think in a safe deposit box. I have seen it very briefly, once. Why do I not have it? It wasn't important to me to have a "thing". The memory of her that I have (flaws and all) is more important to me than an item that might help pay some bills if I sold it. I have not sold it or given it away and figure that one of my daughter may enjoy having it when they are older. My oldest remembers her great-grandmother while my youngest was born after she passed away.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh, this post brought back SO mnay memories...and you captured them very eloquently!
My best bud and her daughter are Yarnings regulars...
LOVE that store!
Maybe I'll see you there on our next visit!
Hang in there,

5/14/2005 2:41 PM  

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