Sometimes you just have to have a pity party and invite all your friends.
Dad has had a rough week which in turn means that my mom has had a difficult week. It is heartbreaking to watch Dad remember that his mom (my grandmother) is dead. It is as if he just learned this news for the first time. He has been crying for days. And as I told my husband, it is an ugly cry. A full on heart breaking cry.
Mom has been experiencing this cry for days. He just sits in his chair and weeps. Today I stopped by with my son and we had a quick visit with my parents. Dad looked up at me and told me that we needed to clean out his mother’s apartment, as well as his sister’s apartment. He told me they had both died and asked me what we should do with their belongings?
I know that I should play along but once again this is a tough topic to spin; so instead, I told him that they had died several years ago. He was stunned. I told him that he planned a wonderful funeral for his mother. I told him that the flowers were beautiful and that everything was just perfect. He said he did not remember the funeral. I tried to lighten the mood with a little story.
I told him that I had a favorite memory about the hours before the funeral with all of my cousins. We sat in my grandmother’s den and waited for our parents’ to tell us it was time to go. I am pretty sure I was the youngest of the cousins at the age of 23. As we waited on our instructions the “aunts” started stopping by the den one at a time and telling us to go to the bathroom. There is no bathroom at the cemetery. We finally told the last aunt that we had all been to the bathroom and were ready to go. The funeral was on a miserably hot day. Probably a lot like today. The grandson’s were the pallbearers and by the time the graveside funeral was over one cousin was covered in perspiration. His poplin suit was drenched. My father told him after the funeral that he should have gone to the bathroom before we left! Of course we thought that was hysterical. A light moment on a sad day.
It worked! Dad laughed out loud and for just a moment he stopped crying. But only for a moment. By the time I left, he was crying again.
My mom was left to pick up the pieces even though it was a unsermountable task. One that she had been trying to survive for the past four days.
So what do you do when your dad announces each day that he just found out that his mother, sister and brother are all dead? One of our kind sitters took Dad to the cemetery and showed him the gravestones. My sister has done the same thing and she even thought to take pictures of the gravestones so that we could show him on days like today.
Unfortunately, he will likely learn tomorrow that his mom and his siblings are dead. He will learn this news as if it was for the first time. My Mom will assure him that he honored his family with beautiful services. She might pull out the pictures and point out the date of their death. He might remember and move on from the sadness but more likely, she will have to tell him the same news again tomorrow.
It is hard and someone should have a pity party.
I like to share helpful information that I have learned on this journey. This week, I had the pleasure of joining several other women at a luncheon to honor Suzanne Blankenship. Suzanne wrote a book entitled How to take care of old people without losing your marbles. I highly recommend that you order this book. I received mine as a gift but I bet you can order it on Amazon. It would have been very helpful to me last summer! It is an easy read and very informative. If you have aging parents, you will need this book.