What a couple of weeks. Lots of things to say, most of which I'm too tired to do much about tonight, so for now here's what I can tell you:
My dad fell again a few weeks back. He broke his leg up near his hip and had to have surgery. It's been a rough few years for my parents with my dad's health issues, but until this latest fall he was doing pretty well. Now things have been kind of reset to where we were over a couple of years back, with my dad using a wheelchair and practicing with a walker, and my mom having to care for him in one room on the ground floor since the rest of the house is like a crazy obstacle course of stairs.
It's been hard. It's hard on dad who's been scared and in pain, and hard on mom who feels trapped and overwhelmed, and hard on me and my brothers who struggle with how to help from a distance.
Luckily (?) the two weeks of vacation we scheduled for our family to be in Michigan overlapped with the time my dad would be transitioning from the nursing home where he was doing rehab back to his house, and we'd be available to help. (He really needed another week or two in rehab to gain strength before coming home, but since medical decisions are made by insurance companies instead of doctors, there wasn't much we could do. Anyone who wants to talk to me about how great our medical system is in this country and thinks it doesn't need serious reform will hear the less diplomatic side of my demeanor. It's a topic that makes me deeply angry. But I digress....)
So we had planned to spend a good stretch of time at the cottage and I was going to do wild things like read and play board games. Instead we were there for just a couple of days and then headed to Detroit to give my mom a little time with her grandchildren (including my niece who we get to bring back with us to Milwaukee at some point for cousin sleepover fun), and I hung out with my dad at the nursing home. We had a lovely time, considering. My brother was there, too, for a couple of days, and he makes anything fun. I read my dad the entire Tina Fey memoir "Bossypants," which had a lot more swearing than I'm used to reading aloud, but it was a good book. It kept my dad laughing, and left me with lots of interesting ideas to ponder.
I wasn't sure initially if once my dad came home it would be too much to have so many extra people there, but my kids and their cousin are good. Unbelievably good (so you may not believe me) but they were quiet in the house and did projects with clay and huddled up around the computer to watch movies and helped with dishes and cleaning up after meals, etc. They didn't fight or whine or cause any problems. They would take themselves to the park down the street when they felt like making noise, and they were just happy and sweet and no trouble at all. They make me very proud. That's normally the case, but to have them be so responsible when we explained that they had to be on their best behavior with grandpa not being well and grandma not needing any additional stress, just made me extra proud.
Ian's been exceptional, too. I married an amazing man. The two of us drove across the state back to the cottage overnight to store boxes in the basement. My parents have storage issues at their house, and needing to accommodate dad in the one room brought things to a breaking point in terms of where to put stuff. There is a ton of unused space in the basement at the cottage, so we took the seats out of the minivan, loaded up about 20 large boxes, and took them on vacation.
I wasn't sure how it would work to leave four kids overnight with my mom while she was caring for dad, but it was fine. Fine enough that once my sister-in-law arrived to help at the house this weekend my husband and I came back to Milwaukee in order to bike this summer's Amazing Milwaukee Race On Bikes. It was great. And a couple of hours after we finished biking I dropped Ian off at the bus station so he could head on back to Detroit alone.
So it's just me and the dog. Chipper won't let me out of his sight now that our family has dwindled to almost nothing. But at least it's some kind of company for the next week while Ian takes the kids to the cottage in a few days so they can enjoy a bit of swimming and fishing at the lake and have a bit of lazy summer fun before school starts all too soon. I wish I could be with them but I need to get back to work.
In another week my other brother will be able to stay with my parents for a few days and see how he can help. Toward the end of the month we have to return my niece to her parents so we will rendezvous in Detroit again and I'll see how my mom and dad are doing. It's hard to be far away from people who need you.
In any case, I'm worn out. There has been a lot of driving and unusual eating and juggling different problems. Not to mention that I biked over 15 miles today and spent a long time walking around a Polish cemetery (but that's the next post).
In the meantime it's very quiet. I miss the normal sounds of my house. I miss Quinn's hours of doodling on the piano and Aden laughing at YouTube videos and Mona's voice carrying from any room and Ian tapping away at his laptop. The dog sighing because he misses the kids and a train going by once in a while is not cutting it.
Anyway, more soon. After some rest. (And maybe joining the dog in a few sighs.)