Three years ago my mom passed away. My dad had taken care and nursed her through 3 years of health problems. He cooked. He cleaned. He took care of her every want and need. He did it well. Very, very well. The house was spotless and his meals delicious. Sometimes he smothered her with his hovering, but she wanted for nothing. They had been married just short of 57 years. When she died he lost his best friend and his purpose.
At first, all seemed well. He was doing ok. Mom had suffered and we were all thankful that she was no longer in pain. As time has gone by we have noticed a decline in Dad's general enjoyment of life. He has became less and less interested in taking part in family events. He's stopped cleaning. Stopped cooking. Choosing to eat out more and more or throw a T.V. dinner in the microwave. He's stopped doing his laundry until he absolutely has to. Physically, he's started to have anxiety symptoms. Opting to miss family functions for any number of maladies. Recently he broke a bone in his foot. He has no idea how it happened, or if he does, he won't tell us.
Because of all of this, my sister and I have had to make some tough decisions. It was obvious to us that he needed to be in a more controlled environment. Perfectly capable of taking care of himself physically, but unable to emotionally, we (well I did, but she backed my play) suggested that maybe he should consider looking into an independent living facility. That was 5 weeks ago and this weekend we are moving him into one. Dad was very receptive to the idea of moving. When I'm around and God opens a door, even if it's just a crack, I push it open. He will be living in a small studio with a kitchenette. They will provide him with 3 meals a day shared in a common dining room. The grounds are beautifully manicured. They have a pool, shuttle buses to take them places, crafts and activities and most importantly tons and tons of people in the same place in life as he is. He will be in a safe environment. One where staff will check on him if they don't see him each and every day. Something that my sister and I are unable to do. He seems excited. When we have visited to fill out paperwork or meet with a staff member, he has already had several little old ladies clearly interested in the 'new kid on the block.' In fact, we left him sitting on a bench while we did some measuring in his new apartment and when we returned we found a smiling dad surrounded by 4 women.
Part of this process has felt very much like it did when I moved my children into their college dorms. We went on a tour, we met the staff, we ate in the dining room. We signed paperwork. Now we are packing up and taking the things that will be important for the next phase of his life.
While he has been very receptive to the idea of moving, he has to be having extreme mixed feelings. He is leaving the home he and mom lived in for 28 years. We are sorting through 56+ years of belongings. Forcing him to decide what is most important to him. That's where it gets frustrating.
Going through all of my parents stuff has been a nightmare. I have come to the conclusion that my mom, in particular, was a paper hoarder. I have never seen so much paper in my life. Useless paper. Paper that should have seen a dumpster back in the 60's and 70's. We have found the paperwork for every car ever purchased. Clear back into the 70's. Empty envelopes. In strong boxes. I mean absolutely nothing in them except a piece of cardboard. Lots and lots of them. I don't get it. She isn't here to ask and I'm not sure what explanation there could possibly be that would make any sense.
My dad, on the other hand, saves everything and is paranoid about getting rid of it. My poor husband found trash bags full of aluminum cans in the sheds. My dad probably hasn't had a soda in 10+ years, so why those cans are still in the shed is any one's guess. Burned out light bulbs. Fluorescent ones. 21 of them. Really? There was never an opportunity to get rid of them? Bags and bags of dead batteries. All of these things have now become my poor husband's problem to dispose of.
Then there is the paper shredding issue. A lot of the paper that we have come across can simply be put into the recycler. If his name is on it, we can shred it. Or at least we could if he would let us. He has two shredders. Both of them work just fine. He insists that they can only be used for 20 minutes or they will burn up. AND that they can't be used again for 24 hours. Say what? I really want to get my hands on the owners manuals for those bad boys. I'm doubtful that there is a product on the market that can only be used for 20 minutes out of every 24 hours.
Then, there are the weird quirks that we've stumbled upon during this process. Some of them are so odd that they defy explanation, but at the same time, they make us laugh until we cry. Do you know anyone else who has 4 toothbrushes going at the same time? You use one, move it to the back and use the next one etc. etc. etc. rotating on a daily basis. No logical explanation. Just a fact. Alrighty then.
Today we will box up the few things that he needs to take out of the kitchen. He really won't need to hardly ever cook, but a few things need to go with him. I wonder what we will discover today? One thing I know is that when he has a few items of trash he puts them in his refrigerator. Something about them not making the kitchen smell. Somehow it makes more sense to put them into a closed up refrigerator. Because that won't smell or anything. How 'bout taking the trash to the dumpster? Just sayin'.
I'm trying to have patience and understanding. I can't imagine my life without my Hubby. I certainly can't imagine condensing my life with him into a small studio sized apartment. I know that someday I will be driving my children just as crazy. For that I apologize now, while I still know what I'm apologizing for.