Chapter 69

When my mom had surgery on her arm after her fall, they had to bring the arm up three inches to reattach it to the bone. They put a rod in her little bone to connect it. One more rod in her little body.

We asked the surgeon to give her twilight instead of anesthetic during the surgery. Older people, when they go under, they will come out of it with some dementia. Mom is at the beginnings of stage three of Alzheimer’s Disease. She knows who I am, and she knows who my stepdad is. Those are great things. There are lots of things she doesn’t know anymore. We don’t want her forgetting us.

She’s had two broken hands and a broken neck. She’s got a rod in her back. Now she’s got a rod in her arm. The next time something happens, we are going to have to take her out, because I don’t think I could survive it. I don’t want to see her live like this.

Honest to God. It’s killing me. It’s not living.

When she got up on her feet at the Lutheran Home, she was able to take about fifty steps That’s great! We can get her to the potty. After a while we’ll be able to get her back from the potty. What kind of a life is that? It’s not a kind of life, at all.

Once she got out of recovery from the Lutheran Home she was going home. Once she was home, she would need caring even more than the caring she had been getting. Once again, I would be taking grief from my brother and sisters.

“Have you talked to Brad or Patty or Betsy?” I asked Pete.

“Why should I talk to them,” he said. “They don’t take care of her, we do.”

That’s the sentence in a nutshell that got me kicked out of my family. I never said it, other people said it, but they all believe I said it. There’s no telling them they are wrong. I’ve been taking care of my mom for almost five years. I don’t care what they say anymore.

Many Alzheimer’s Disease patients have ten years from the time they come down with it. My mom could have five more years. I started thinking, once she was up and about, back home, it might be best if I devoted myself to taking care of her. I wasn’t sure how to tell Pete, because every time I had ever brought it up, he said, “No, no, no, you need to keep your job, keep working.”

But work was killing me. I have had many ailments over the years from the job, tendinitis, bursitis, on my feet all day, my bad back. The salon was closed for ten weeks because of the virus. After my first day back, I was so sore. I had never hurt so bad. It was awful.

You can’t die from it, although I thought I was going to die from the soreness. I stayed stoned from the second I got home until the second I went back through the salon door. I called Pete the next day, after I thought about what I should do.

“This is what we are going to do,” I said.

“What is that?” he asked.

“There’s no way you can do it all alone, take care of her and everything else. I am going to devote myself to it. Brian and I are willing to scrimp and save while we have to, to get it done.”

I hadn’t talked to Brian about it, yet.

“I will help take care of you that way,” he said, which brought tears to my eyes.

I had some huge God things happen to me the past few months. Pete saying what he said was one of them. I talked to Jody at the hair salon. She said she completely understood and that if I decided to retire, I was welcome back anytime That brought tears to my eyes, too.

Taking care of my mom can be rough. She gets Sundown Syndrome all the time. When the sun goes down, she often goes mad as a hornet, throwing shit, yelling. My grandfather had it. I would go see him at night, after work, and he complained the nurses were poisoning him. I would take a bite of his food to show him they weren’t trying to kill him.

“Look, it’s OK, there’s no poison.”

He would take a bite and spit it right out on the floor.

“Poison!”

It was bad. One time my grandmother went to see him, and the minute she stepped in the door, he shouted, “Helen, there’s a huge black hair hanging out of your nose!”

There wasn’t but no matter what we said, it didn’t matter what we said. The next day he remembered and was so embarrassed.

Pete calls, says, your mom is going crazy. When I get there, I feed her some THC. It’s not going to kill her, but buzz her up a bit, and she gets a good night’s sleep. She won’t take anything from Pete, but she will usually take what she needs to take from me.

I start by playing with her hair, twirling it a little, and once I do that, her body will start to relax. “Down the hatch,” I say, and it’s down the hatch. It’s been a Godsend.

When my mom got home, still recovering from her broken arm, I continued thinking, she is going to need a lot of help, and my stepdad is going to need some help, too. I had been taking care of her for almost five years. My sister and brother didn’t do anything. I decided to talk to Brian.

“I think it’s time for me to retire from the hair salon,” I said. “Can we do this?”

“The two times I was out of work, God took care of us,” he said. “You were tired, working, you made the money. Now it’s my turn. I’ll take care of it.”

“I’m nervous. I’ve never not worked since I was fourteen.”

“We can do it together,” he said.

“OK, we’ll do it together,” I said, and that’s what we did.

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