At this time last year, John was able to care for himself. He could make lunch, walk the dog and do a load of laundry. Today, a mere 12 months later, he is in daycare four days a week and is never left alone.
During the summer, the logistics of our house were ever changing: I was home recuperating from knee replacement surgery. Our grandson had taken a brief vacation, but was back to attend summer school. My mother was our house guest while her home was being retrofitted to handle her decreased mobility. It seemed if there was a flat surface, someone was sleeping on it.
Thank goodness for the three weeks my sister came to stay with us. Although she didn’t cook, she made sure there were groceries in the house. So aside from me hobbling to the kitchen for food or to take part in physical therapy, my husband and I pretty much stayed in bed—much like John Lennon and Yoko Ono.
Without work or other activities to compete for my attention, the noise of the world quieted and I became focused on John. There in the comfort of our bed, I began to see, and accept, all the things that he could no longer manage. Thankfully, when asked, I could blame my tears on my bruised and stitched-up knee.
Faster than I imagined, the time came for me to return to work. I had to scramble to cobble together care for John. My father took on the task of caregiving on Mondays, I worked from home for two, and for two days a week he attended a specialized Alzheimer’s daycare center, affectionately known as “The Club.”
A routine began to take shape. When John’s comfort level increased and our budget stabilized, I added a third day to daycare, then a fourth. Changes occurred when my mother returned to her home, our grandson Adam moved in with my brother and our dog Tobey went to live with our daughter. As needed, we adjusted.
One night as I walked in the door loaded down with bags of groceries, dry cleaning and mail, my father shook his head and commented that he didn’t know how I managed everything I had to do. I told him that I saw myself as a widow who has a three-year-old with learning difficulties.
I identify with the many single moms who each morning wake their kids, get them dressed, fed and out the door. They take them to daycare and then go to work reversing the process each night.
Taking this view doesn’t let me feel sorry for myself or feel so lonely.