Monday morning, 7:30 AM, I wake up with a start. There's no one in our house. No one who isn't sleeping, I mean. Where is Grampie's aide? What am I going to do about the legal giant who lies in his bed waiting for someone to come get him up?
This is one thing we've learned in the last two weeks: I can't move my father-in-law. Not by myself. Not an inch. He's just too big, too heavy, too immobile. And I've neither the size or strength. A couple of his aides are pretty small, but they don't have legs that go out at them without warning.
I reach for my phone, call the Beve. He says he'll call the Care Agency, from his blue tooth in the car as he comes home. I'll check on Grampie and soothe him if he's trying to get up by himself.
Grampie's still asleep. I go out to the kitchen, turn on the tea water, decide to go through my tea cupboard. Get down too many different kinds of tea but NONE of the kind I drink on a daily basis.
This morning ISN'T starting very well.
The dogs stare at me with cocked heads. They don't even bother barking to go out for our morning game of ball. They get that something's WAY off, too.
Why do we have forty different kinds of tea, anyway?
Why DON'T we have any PG Tips when I need it?
Finally the aide shows up. It's 8: 15.
"My alarm didn't go off," she says.
As we walk down the hall toward Grampie's room I tell her that Grampie doesn't hear right now. On Friday when that day's aide was cleaning out his ears, apparently she must have pushed wax deeper into his ear canals. Beve has to take him to the doctor this afternoon.
An hour later it's clear that it's a hard day for Grampie, too. He doesn't know this care-giver so doesn't want me out of his sight. Because he can't hear, he doesn't try to talk either...unless he's REALLY upset. Yesterday morning he sat straight up in his recliner and said to Beve, "Will you go into my bedroom and get me a sweater?" It was one of the most lucid things he's said in months and music to our ears. But today he's neither talking nor cooperative. He keeps trying to get me to take his hand like I'm going to pull him up onto his feet. I try to show him how we'd both wind up on the floor with broken limbs, but he just laughs at me. He shifts in his recliner and makes a whole lot of motions that make no sense to me. I try yelling at him. He doesn't pay any attention but continues to try getting up.
Inspiration hits. Grampie can still read words. How well he comprehends we don't know but I aim to find out. I grab some 3 x 5 cards and start writing simple sentences.
You have to stay here.
You can't hear right now.
Steve will take you to the doctor.
The doctor will fix your ears.
Do you understand?
Grampie points to his ears. I nod.
"Ah hell," he says.
Ah hell is right I write.
Then he points to my chair across the room.
Shall I sit in my chair?
He points again.
So I sit in my chair and watch him close his eyes.
He raises his head and says Beve's full name, like he's trying to work it all out.
I think I'll sit here until Grampie drifts off to sleep or maybe until Beve walks in the door.
Watching Grampie sleep.
I don't know what he really understands so I want to be here for when he opens his eyes again.
Just to reassure him.
This is what I do now.
It's as good a thing as any to do this Monday morning.