Monday, January 13, 2014

Learning To See

Sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees.  I have a very unique situation that I've dealt with for almost three years and day by day, it has become obviously more difficult to handle.

My mother-in-law will be 102 years of age this year.  It is still a few months away - a little over 8 months away - but, still, the fact remains, the woman IS right now 101 years of age.

She moved in with us three years ago when we discovered that she was falling and since she lived alone in her home, it was not a good situation.  From late Fall until early Spring, my wife's next oldest sister would do daily visits since she only lived at the opposite end of the same street.  It is a small NW Ohio community and the distance was less than 1/2 mile.  But, during the summer, my sister-in-law and her husband spend their time at the cottage up in the wilds of northern Michigan.  Definitely too far to make daily visits possible.  So, during that time, my wife, her older brother and her eldest sister would randomly visit during the week and one grandson would get her mail and deliver it daily.  Why the mail delivery?  My mother-in-law, at the ripe age of 98 was still walking uptown to the post office to get her mail - a trip of about 5 blocks each way on a sidewalk that was anything but level.  But I digress.

Since she was falling, it was decided that we (my wife and I) would take her in temporarily during the summer to keep a watch on her.  She had a doctor's visit about 3 weeks after coming to stay at our home. The doctor informed my wife that my mother-in-law shouldn't be left to her resources and should either be placed in a home or live with a family member.

Lucky us.

Since that time, my mother-in-law has slowly spiraled downward with bouts of dementia and the onslaught of Alzheimer's Disease.  In addition, her eyesight and hearing was shaky, at best, three years ago.  Today, she can barely see and is basically stone deaf.  For her, it is always dark outside, except when the sun is shining in the east-facing kitchen window.  She can only hear bits and pieces when you get close to her left ear and shout at the top of your voice.  Okay, that's not totally true.  If you mention the idea of getting new eye glasses or being tested for hearing aids - she will fight you to your death.  She had eye surgery (cataract) back when she was 70+ and the doctor told her she would have great vision until the day she died.  And she thinks she can hear just fine and don't need any hearing aids.

Each day is an experience of surprises not knowing exactly what is going to happen or how it will play out within her world.  Yes, her world.  My mother-in-law will carry on very long and more than interesting conversations with nobody in the room.  At least nobody that I can see.  To get a grasp of how it works, think of listening to somebody on a telephone.  You only hear one side.  Yes, she talks, waits (apparently listening to a response) and then replies.  As terrible as this sounds, I sat by my office door listening to her carry on a 15 minute conversation.  It was extremely interesting and you have no idea how I wished I could have heard both sides.  She was in the living room, the TV was off and her chair was only about 10 feet away.  Since she has trouble hearing, she tends to speak a little more loudly.

But, again, I digress.

What I didn't realize until just a couple of days ago, I was being slapped up along side the head by the Muse. She was handing me a great story.  I am now remembering many of the incidents of the last three years and putting them to cyber-paper.  Sort of a memoir but not really.

I mentioned an incident that had happened to a couple of my friends and the one told me to write them down and use them as blog entries.  Since my blog is about ramblings ... you just may see one or two stories pop up over the next few months.

As a writer, I am learning to see.

Until next I ramble on...

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