Tuesday, October 25, 2016


Joe in his new recliner having just learned he's going to be a Great Grandfather

The phone is ringing….

I really have to start putting my cell phone in the bedroom at night.  By the time I get out of bed and stumble around looking for the phone it’s too late.
I look at the clock.  It’s not quite eight.  I wonder aloud, “Who would be calling me this early?”   Yes, I know it’s not really early but if I’m going to get at least six hours of sleep I need to sleep in a little later.

Joe’s been up for who knows how long.  I’ve stopped trying to wrangle him back into bed unless it’s before one o’clock in the morning.  All it does is make me crazy and agitate him.  Of course, there are times when I wish I had forced him back to bed, like the morning he completely undressed and sat on the sofa in a very chilly living room.  There’s always guilt when I realize he’s done something I could have helped with.  Last week I found his pajama bottoms in the trash. 

Joe’s happy to see me up.  (I’m not sure if he even heard the phone ringing.)  He’s attempted to dress himself and I can’t help but snicker noticing he’s got two shirts on over his sweatshirt, both inside out.  The odds of getting your clothes inside-out should be 50/50.  Right?  Then why does it happen most of the time?

I start the coffee and we get through our usual routine; check blood glucose level, insulin injection (Al hates injections), Cheerios and banana, handful of pills. No surprises.

Looking across at Joe I decide he needs a shave and a haircut.  So I gather up all the tools and products we’ll need.   It’s been a year since he was last in a “real” barber’s chair.  You’d think going to the barber would be easy enough but with Al along to comment on the barber’s ugly tattoos or the impatience of waiting his turn, it’s just easier to go to “Jane’s Salon of Beauty”, no tip required.

By the time we finish it’s mid-morning and we still need to shower and dress.  Joe’s first in line so I get the water temperature set, towel and shower products in place, escort Joe to the shower and head for the bedroom to lay out the day’s clothes. 

It’s ironic because Joe always had great taste in the clothes he chose.  I remember back in the early 90’s just after we had moved to downtown Portland, Oregon, Joe gave me a Nordstrom’s credit card for my birthday. When the first bill came, I noted he had already racked up quite a bill.  In fact, he was on a first name basis with the sales staff in Men’s Wear.

I hurry through my shower and dress.  I’m thinking I really need a haircut myself but it will have to wait.  We have an appointment with a local in-home care agency.  I’m still not sure I want to do this but the kids keep telling me I need to get out of the house more, that I’m going to burn-out or go berserk if I don’t get a break from caregiving now and then.  I know they’re right but Joe and I have been joined at the hip (so to speak) for the past three years and I’ve started to feel like leaving Joe in someone else’s care might be disloyal, or seem uncaring.   Intellectually I know that’s not true but emotionally I struggle with it. 

Last week I had to take Joe with me to the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) to get the car registered in Oregon and change my driver’s license back to an Oregon license.  I knew the wait would be hard on Joe and Al but it needed to be done.

We waited long past Joe’s threshold for such things and to make it even more complicated, I’m told I need to take the written test before my license can be reissued.

Here comes the embarrassing part.  Instead of just going back to the DMV on another day to take the test, I throw good judgement to the wind and tell Joe if he’ll just wait a little longer we won’t have to come back and go through the line again.   He reluctantly agrees. 

So, I have Joe sit closer to the testing area so he won’t feel abandoned and head in to take the test.

Several minutes later I hear Joe groaning in discomfort but I can’t leave the test area to check on him.   By now I’m having problems concentrating and have missed four questions with only three more misses allowed before I fail the test.  Joe and Al decide they’ve had enough so Joe gets up and walks over to the test area.   I look up and see him standing at the enclosure wall looking down at me with his hands in the air motioning “Aren’t you done yet”? 

That’s all it takes and I promptly fail the test.   You would think I’d learn to listen to that little voice that’s telling me not to push my luck, to know when enough is enough.   I’m not really blaming Joe for me failing the test…Okay, so I guess I was a little.

It’s afternoon and the kind woman from the in-home care company shows up.  We agree on a plan of four hours a day twice a week.  Joe might not be thrilled about having someone coming to the house while I go run errands, attend a support group meeting or have lunch with a girlfriend, but if he grumbles I’ll just remind him about how much fun it was at the DMV. 

It’s evening and we’re just back from dinner with the kids. It was Mexican tonight, not Joe’s favorite but he seemed in an unusually good mood.  He’s sitting in his new chair in front of the new fireplace wearing his new slippers.  (I think we’re spoiling him.)  Maybe he’s just happy because it was a “good” day in the life.