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.