Today has been an absolutely WONDERFUL holiday.
I spent the morning making pies. I was in charge of assigning people the things to bring, and didn't have many people for making pies, so I volunteered myself. I told my mom that I would make the cream pies (banana, coconut and lemon meringue). I baked the shells yesterday and then went to work this morning making the filling. I had never made a meringue before, so whipping up the egg whites got to me. I didn't realize that it took SO long to whip them when you have a little ol' hand mixer. After a VERY long time, I finally had my stiff peaks, and I baked them. Oh, my GOSH!! They were SO SO SO yummy.
I also volunteered to pick up my grandpa from the assisted living center and bring him to my mom's house. This was a chore.
Grandpa will go for a long time, having good days where he remembers and then he'll have bad days....today was a bad one. He spent the morning calling my aunt (one of 4 phone numbers that he remembers) to see when he was going to be picked up. She reassured him that someone would get him and that he wasn't forgotten. Then she called my mom who called me. When mom called me, I'd JUST finished my food preparations (I also made a salad and dug out a can of cranberry sauce....) and finished my shower. I promised her that I would be leaving the house shortly.
I left my boys in the suburban while I went in to find Grandpa. I had fully expected to find him in the front lobby waiting impatiently. When I entered...he wasn't there. I went to his room and found him napping on his bed.
So I told him that we were going to Thanksgiving Dinner and that he would probably need his jacket because it was cool outside. He then told me that he probably didn't have one there, because he didn't live there all the time.
I finally got him ready, then we slowly (and I DO mean SLOWLY) sauntered down the hallway. I told him that I would check him out at the front desk and meet him at the doors. He tried banging the doors open, but there's a code to open them (dang good thing...) I got him in the car and then he asked, "Are you going to pick up mom now?"
*Sigh* These are the moments it's hard to have a grandpa with a memory problem....
I told him, "Grandpa, Grandma died 3 years ago now. You don't live with her..." My boys, in the back seat, chimed in: Cameron said, "She's in heaven, Grandpa." Jake said, "She's in a hole in the ground."
Things were silent after that.
Soon enough we were at my mom's house, and I took in the food and then sat down to rest. My cousins and aunts soon arrived and the house was busy and full of happy noises. The kids were begging to go outside to play and the adults sat around and talked. My mom had miscalculated the time the turkey would take, so we waited an extra hour for dinner to be ready. Unfortunately, Steve had to hurry off to work, but did manage to get his food before going to work. He also took a few plates of food with him to share with his employees.
After dinner, we were all beyond stuffed, and sat and talked. I got to talk with my two female cousins who showed up. It was so fun to just sit and talk and laugh. I wish I could do that MORE often.
We ate our pie, and then it was time to go home. My grandpa had been having a VERY rough day and was in and out of the bathrooms the WHOLE time. (I swear, when he was supposed to be eating, he was in the bathroom 10 times.) He'd had an accident, and it was TIME to take him home. I didn't let him sit (it's hard to get him up off of a chair if he DOES sit...) and herded him to the suburban. I put a towel around my seat, so he wouldn't make a mess....and then I opened the door so he could get in.
He couldn't do it. He couldn't raise his leg to get in, he couldn't put his feet on the running board to get IN the car, he couldn't do it. I stood behind him, knowing that he was wet and gross, and thinking, "This is taking WAY too long....should I just push him in and wash my hands later?" I resisted the urge, and after 6 minutes of struggle, went into my mom's house for a step stool. By the time I got back out to the car...he'd managed to get in. *sigh*
I took him home, and on the way he said, "Now, remember, I need to go home." I looked at him and said, "Oh, don't worry, I remember." As I pulled into the assisted living center, he began to complain, "I don't live here....why are we here!?" "You live here, Grandpa." "I DO NOT!" "Grandpa, you've lived here for about 3 years now....I promise." "You have GOT to be kidding me!" "Why would I kid you about something like this?? Is this funny!?"
I parked the car outside the closest door to his room, and he asked, "So, do you want me to stay here until I will be dropped off?" "Nope, you are being dropped here."
I helped him in, and he feebly made his way in the door. I had to hold his hand as he walked the 20 feet to his room....then he collapsed on his couch.
As I left him I worried that he would follow and ask me more of the same questions. It's hard to tell him over and over that his wife is dead and that he doesn't remember it. I think I told him that at LEAST 5 times today. It's hard to leave him in an assisted living center when I know that he'd rather be in his own home. It's hard to hear him talk about driving himself around, then telling him that no, he can't drive, and that he really can't do much of anything.
Dementia/Alzheimer's is rough on the family as much as it is on the person who is suffering from it. I just want to cry after visiting him when he's had a bad day. I think he's beginning to forget the simple things now. (How to climb into a car.....) It's just sad all around.
I have to say though, I am grateful for my family and the love we have....and the memories we make.