The One-Year Mark: Part 5

Let’s recap, shall we? My sister arranges to move out of town, leaving my 68-year-old aging mom stranded in Chicago area.

Dutiful daughter that I am, my family and I decide to move Mom closer to us. We go to Chicago for a visit for Thanksgiving 2007, and on the drive home to Pittsburgh, we prop my diabetic, obese, cardiac-patient Mom (aka Chiquita or Grandma Chiquita) in the front seat of the minivan. Here goes nothin’.

Cue the chest pains. There’s a stop in the ER in Sandusky, Ohio; some vomiting by my 6-year-old; and then we arrive home. Where we wait nearly three weeks for her moving truck to arrive. My walker-and-wheelchair-using mom now has to climb 2 flights of stairs each day to her bedroom.

Here’s what a typical day looked like over those few weeks:

7:00 am: Kids and I wake up, get dressed and ready for school. Look in on Mom (or just check to make sure I can hear her snore)

7:30 am: Breakfast for kids & Chiquita. Kids eat at kitchen table, Mom gets a tray in her room. She’s so weak and diabetic, I don’t want her attempting the stairs before breakfast.

8:15 am: Leave for bus stop; stop in to let Mom know we’re going. Chances are, she’s still asleep.

8:30 am: Breakfast for me; make coffee for Mom and me. Park Little Sis in front of the TV so I can…

8:45 am to ?: Head upstairs to give Mom a shower and “treatment.” Of course, she’s still asleep. Once she wakes, I’ll help her with breakfast (not that she really needs the help so much as she’s so co-dependent she’ll take any help anyone’s dumb enough to give her…that’d be me). She takes her pills (13 at the time). Then a shower, and her “treatment.” I’ll spare you the details except to say that it involves washing & powdering her delicate skin condition.

Late morning: Help Chiquita down the stairs and get her settled in front of Fox News (*gag*), where she’ll repeat the day’s headlines to me almost incessantly.

Sometime before lunch (hopefully): Cleanup duty begins; head back up to her room, strip the bed and wash the sheets (wet from incontinence), her towels (one from shower plus 2-3 more for her treatment), her pajamas and the previous day’s clothes (she only packed enough for a few days). Bring down her breakfast tray and do kitchen cleanup. Start lunch; must be healthy because I’m feeding a diabetic cardiac patient.

After lunch: take care of my 3 year old (hey, remember her?), alternating with fielding “What are you DOING?” from Mom and losing my mind because I SO did not sign up for this howamIsupposedtocookandcleananddolaundryand groceryshopand handlemykidsandmyhusbandandnowmymomtoo!

3:45 pm: Pick up Big Sis from school bus. Great, now I have three people to take care of!

4:30 pm Start dinner; must be healthy because I’m feeding a diabetic cardiac patient. Must also be something that picky Big Sis will eat unless we want a battle at the dinner table. Allow extra time for incessant interruptions. As 6 pm nears and am interrupted for the 34th time, shout “DO YOU PEOPLE WANT TO EAT DINNER TONIGHT OR NOT?!?”

6:15 pm Mr. Hoagie gets home from work. Inwardly rejoice because the cavalry has arrived.

6:16 pm Heart sinks as he trudges upstairs for a “quick nap” before dinner. Inwardly seethe, slamming pots and pans, until I…

6:20 pm …remember that he’s epileptic so his neurologist has given him carte blanche on sleep. Say a quick prayer of thanks that he didn’t have a seizure driving home from work and kill himself and six other people and commence to feeling guilty that I inwardly seethed at all.

6:45 pm Start dinner for five. Repeatedly get up to get stuff for people. Listen to regurgitated Fox News headlines. Mediate kids’ arguments. Count bites for whiny, perpetually hunger-striking Big Sis. Eat cold food and start clearing table.

7:30 pm Encourage everyone to head up to bed, knowing that that’s the only way I’ll get any peace. Chiquita needs to go up before she’s too tired; we had several instances of wobbliness and near-falls over those weeks.

7:31 pm Chiquita turns Fox News back on.

8:15 pm Kids head upstairs; Mr. Hoagie puts them to bed.

8:20 pm Chiquita (reluctantly) heads upstairs, supported by me.

8:26 pm Arrive at top of stairs. Assist Chiquita in getting ready for bed, including (whoo hoo) another treatment.

9:15 pm Chiquita is tucked in and watching prime time TV in the dark. She invites me to stay and watch with her, but I weasel out of it (feeling guilty) because I. AM. BEYOND.DONE.

9:20 pm Curl up on the couch with Mr. Hoagie to watch The Daily Show.

9:30 pm Fall asleep on the couch.

10:15 pm Mr. Hoagie wakes me up so I can drag my sorry butt to bed. I get to do it all over again tomorrow.

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6


About Kathleen

Kathleen Heuer is a serial arts advocate and volunteer. She is the mom of two beautiful girls, wife to a brilliant nuclear engineer, and referee between her golden retriever and her hissy 18-year-old cat. For more, go to
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7 Responses to The One-Year Mark: Part 5

  1. jmedvm says:

    the downside to stopping the codependency dance is u r usually dancing alone,wait “downside “?remember the quote “if you think you r enlightened spend a week with ur family”exkhart tolle remember u r ok speak as mantra:”(ur name)I love u,(your name )I honor you ,(your name)I respect you”and pray evryday,hard to love people where they are,&fend off martyr-thoughts

  2. Sandwiched says:

    Thanks…good reminder. Maybe I’ll pull out my Eckhart Tolle books again!

  3. kim says:

    I’m on year five with my FIL living with us…your blog has made me laugh, in a way that only those of us who live the life can. Humour is the one thing that honestly keeps me going…Papa suffers from Alzhiemer’s and every day is an adventure!

    Hang in there!

    • Sandwiched says:

      Wow…Alzheimer’s must be so rough. My mom is as sharp as a tack, and she’s still a handful!

      Don’t get me started on eldercare for my in-laws…that’s a whole other series of posts!

      You hang in there, too. “If we didn’t laugh, we would all go insane.” Was that Ben Franklin, or Jimmy Buffett? I forget… 😉

  4. I admire you for having the strength and courage to make the sacrifice to take care of your mom! What a long day you have!

  5. Pingback: The One-Year Mark: Part 4 « Sandwiched

  6. Bill Grote says:

    Wow! What a day. I would be done too. Being caregiver for all those people. It’s hard to conceive how you can do it.

    Thank goodness for John Stewart and the Daily Show. I hope he makes you laugh as much as he does me.

    — Bill Grote

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