We’re a happy family, adrift on a nurse’s holiday.
My wife has been in orbit of her grandfather the last few weeks, almost a month in total. His health has been in decline for some time, leading to a Congestive Heart Failure diagnosis (I’m not sure if this is recent to his decline or not). Since the begining of October, he’s been taken to the ER I think four times. And finally I’ve been here with her and him the last week, as they’ve transistioned him to a “home hospice” care scenario.
Her nephew came down to visit, we’ve been talking about his soon to be business venture, a franchise of his own, the community he and his husband are settling in, and trying to stay jovial as we can.
My mother-in-law departed for some brief business of her own, and the three of us are his caretakers. I stepped in to help my wife do changing and dressings, my nephew-in-law helps his aunt feed. I cook breakfast to order and clean the dishes.
We’re an odd family unit right now.
A few family members stop by, the two brothers to my MIL, the remaining set of children of the 95 year-old patient. An extended aunt of my wife who I remember her telling the story at his wife’s funeral about how he came to become known by “Tater”. There’s a young bull dog pup in tow, so sweet and chubby.
I started out envious of the family, because when my mother was in ICU for three weeks, she couldn’t talk until she decided to enter hospice herself. And even then, all she could say in her exasperated whisper was “water”. The hacking cough kept me up overnight, I retreated to the ICU waiting room to try and brighten my moment with Star Trek on BBC America, and eventually when my wife and my mother’s friend came, I showered, changed clothes, and decided I couldn’t do another night of this.
The next morning, early in the AM, I got a call that she passed. I couldn’t decide if I should have been there. Was this “theater”, the act of death something to be observed? She can’t suffer afterwards that I wasn’t there, so I can hardly continue to berate myself to any positive effect. Should I have been there to be close to her, to yield companionship in the last moment? The incident that put her in ICU happened overnight when we all thought she was stable.
I was there the night before her last, I held her hand from the fold out couch in her room, so I was parallel to her bed. She didn’t have much motor control left from the previous restraints.
Snap back to reality…
“Papaw” still smiles and thanks me as I take my turns to help, try and empathize with this man who’s always called me handsome when we met at family events, and I’ve returned the compliment.
I’m glad he remembers me, he’s always been sharp.
Here we are, sitting in his house in his chairs and on his loveseat. The family deciding the couch is too uncomfortable to sleep in, and provides too much opportunity for certain dramatic individuals to linger in the space.
I experience things here, that he will likely never get to again.
We just wait, until we can do something for him, and we try to make him comfortable.
I contemplate getting some sort of healthcare certificate after I retire from software development in a decade.