Friday, August 21, 2009

A Few Updates

Wondered what became of Tum-Tum? Wonder if Mother is still around? Or if I abandoned her? And, what about the dog who was lost while I was pondering sewage pouring into the yard? Unfortunately, I realize with my rather scattered patterns of thought these days, I tend to leave some hanging threads. So, I thought I should pick some of those threads up and try to mend the holes I've left.

Working my way backward through the list: yes, the dog was found. Greg came to my rescue. After calling me to check in and listening to me tearfully tell him about Cheyenne, he headed home and was able to find her (they all mind him better than me, I'm the soft touch, he's the disciplinarian).

I did not abandon Mother, although at times it seems as though I have, even to me. Back to work full-time, I can no longer make it over to see her everyday, and was worried about that until I noticed recently I don't actually think she realizes it anymore. Her relationship with reality, sadly, is slipping even from what it was a few months ago. She recently announced to everyone that my daughter is attending college in Canada. This is after someone on staff printed her up a map to show her where Marissa's college actually is, which is 11 miles up the road. She calls her favorite dog, Cheyenne, Shane and calls me Cheyenne. When I was there the other day a male nurse came in to give her some medication. His name, in very large print on his name tag, is Neil. He's been there all along. She called him Carl at least half dozen times. The upside is, if I don't make it to see her on any given day, I no longer get the pouty guilt trip. She just seems glad to see me and completely unaware of the time lapses. The downside is, she called her stock broker and pulled out all the cash she had available and had it sent to her local account so she could pay for my youngest daughter's tuition. Very noble and generous thought. When it came time to fund the account so I could pay her nursing home, they had to call me and tell me they couldn't do it. When I confronted Mother, in a not-how-I-learned-to-talk-in-therapy voice, she told me she had taken a loan out against her portfolio. Not so, obviously. At that point, some weeks back now and still completely raw emotionally from the trauma of losing my oldest child, those black clouds I wrote of a couple of days ago were really swirling, and the thought of her doing something even more drastic with her money was the lightning bolts striking all around me(because, at least I still have it, now tucked safely in a savings account she can't access, but she could have just have easily spent all of that on something outrageous, like another El Diablo - God forbid). I finally decided I needed some help. I thought back to that educational consultant I didn't end up using to help with Marissa and wondered if maybe there was the equivalent for older folk. I found a service online that advertised that it connects people to senior care ( Sounds great. I filled out the form, not knowing what I would get and waited to see what the response would be. A few hours later a woman called for me, listened patiently to my story, told me she had a couple of firms she was thinking of that could probably help me and promised to contact them, which she very promptly did, and then she followed up with me to make sure they had contacted me. She was like an unseen angel coming to me from my cell phone. I have no idea who she is, I can't remember her name, and I have no idea how she makes her money, because I didn't pay her anything, but she deserves sainthood. Long story short, I now have a case manager who consults with me, keeps an eye on Mother and her care and advises me. She had me ask for a psych evaluation to see if we need to consider legally terminating Mom's ability to control her finances, which is in progress. She also introduced me to the concept of companion services. You can seriously pay people to socialize with your parents. They will read to them, play games with them, take them shopping or to visit friends, or just sit there and watch television if that's what the person wants to do. And, they are actually trained and certified to do this job. The owner of the company told me one client insisted the companion have a Master's degree. He wasn't able to fulfill that request, but does have college graduates on staff. Unbelievable. Mother's companion begins Wednesday. I am excited for both her and me. I will take the three days the companion visits "off", and Mother will have someone there who will do things willingly with her that I don't have the energy or patience to do. I am hoping that you really can have your dessert and eat it too.

As for Tum-Tum, I am happy to report she is doing fine. Her weight is back to where it was, although that was never all that much. She is a petite creature, but true to her diva attitude, she has a large voice, and she has been using it lately to tell us exactly what she wants and when she wants it. During this entire trying summer, I have been watching the animals and trying to decide what they know and how they are reacting to it. I know animals feel grief, and they definitely react to our vibes, but I don't know if they really understand who it is that is missing and that she is not coming back. Tum-Tum knows who is missing without any doubt, but what I honestly can't tell you is how long she will hang onto that memory, or if she is already lost it. She spends much of her day laying on a ledge above our stairs where I have Kelsey's urn. She spreads out and props her head against the urn. There is no way, I tell myself, she knows Kelsey's remains are in there, but the time she spends there and the proximity she stays to it is just a little too coincidental. But, she is also coming around to deciding that we all live downstairs, and if she wants to receive any attention at all, then she will have to do the same. She is taking it slow, spending increasing amounts of time in a room right off the master bedroom where we have our exercise equipment. It is closed off from the rest of the house and Charlie accesses it through a cat door. I have kept his food bowl there for years to keep the dogs away from it. So, now she hangs out there a good part of the day. I moved her litter box down there just last night. And she is venturing out to visit me in the bedroom or the kitchen more often. Problem is, as aloof as she has been all this time, the dogs are terribly curious about her. She met my Dalmatian last night in the kitchen, and the encounter did not go well, to Noelle's disadvantage. The ten pound cat kicked the 50 pound dog's butt. She has returned to playing, running back and forth the upstairs hall like she used to do. This is a new development. She always felt frisky in the mornings, keeping Greg awake and irritated. I've noticed he doesn't complain about that lately. I think he's just happy, as am I, that she is adjusting so well. We are not even pretending that we are looking for another home for her at this point. I would let her go with Marissa's boyfriend since he is a true cat person. He can hold her and rock her in his arms for long periods. I am the only other one who can pick her up, but not for long. But he has two cats who each could swallow her whole. So, she is with us probably for the duration. She is our last living piece of our daughter. In so many ways, she is like Kelsey.

So there you have it. Now go watch the game, everybody. The Steelers are on.

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