Mom went from insisting that adult diapers were just great and she would not use the special commode to actually using the master bedroom commode (no rails anywhere) over a few days. While we worry about the safety of her transferring -- and what she might do if she got the wheel chair stuck in the bathroom door with the toilet seemingly close enough -- using a household commode will relieve some of the care burden.
Sister story: My sister has had the insight that we should "let go" and walked me out on Tuesday morning. I spent the rest of the day in an emotional reaction: a tangle of guilt (shouldn't i be disrupting my life over this?), of relief, of having time to feel, and then the emotional hangover. I decided i would not get back to work but take the day.
There are still things we can or should do. My sister has a horse at their house and so "normally" stops by for little visits every morning. I'm planning on Tuesday and Thursday nights at their house through April. I am a little resentful that while my father understands missing work is an issue he doesn't consider how not-work time is necessary for our lives. It's possible that this is all transitional contribution, that in weeks they will have adjusted and we will move to a sustainable new normal.
I've tried explaining to my Dad a concept of over compensating (by bringing in help) at the beginning of this change -- such as having help there every evening, not just three -- and then letting the help go as they adapt. But they haven't changed from my childhood: do just enough to cope and limp along for months and months or years and years, instead of focusing resources on resolving the issue and having it done and over with (and then making up any financial differences with saving after).
I have May 1st marked as my point to evaluate the sustainability of how we are caring for Mom. Hopefully, there will be a strong track of things getting easier for my dad.
There is, on my father's mind, the question of caring for his mother, as well. He's too busy -- and exhausted -- now to even reflect, i think. I pull my hair out thinking of how he is cutting himself off at the knees. He's not saving personal intellectual and emotional resources in order to save money. With luck, his mother's husband will stay alive long enough that Dad can recover some emotional and mental reserves to deal with whatever crisis comes.
Anyhow, there it is. I am relieved to not had to be present in the stressful context of my very stubborn, very ... mean-to-family-sweet-to-everyone-else ... mother's home coming. The one yelling-at i received on Tuesday morning was plenty for me. Listening to my father plead that he is stupid and slow so she might be patient with him is painful enough that i don't need to hear it more.
I know that both my father and i are married to Difficult People, but my difficult person is self aware and does everything she can to address her own difficulties. I know Christine has a deep fear of what would happen to her if i was no longer around as breadwinner and bulwark. I suspect my mother's lifetime anger has significant sources in fear of what she would do if my father left her. My father has spent so much of his retirement working to break out of the dysfunctional patterns of their married life. I'm proud of him for getting over his own buttons and triggers, and it's because of that work he can use what used to be one of my mother's weapons (calling him stupid) as a tool for manipulating her. But it doesn't make it any easier to watch.
And in my compassion for him at how caring he is that he chooses to struggle to keep his voice soft and is willing to do whatever to help keep my mother calm in the face of the cognitive damage on top of whatever else has been her issues since i can remember -- i'm angry and frustrated that he is stretching himself so thin. Someday, he's going to say something about people scrimping on construction and creating unsafe conditions, and i will draw a parallel.