I am learning that we never know what each day will bring. I leave my phone's ringer off at school and usually check it some time toward leaving for the day; every minute otherwise is jam-packed. Recesses are filled with students staying in to finish work. I rush to use the bathroom before the hordes come down the hall (fifth grade socializing starts the minute they enter the hall together and stops – if we insist on it - when they reenter the classroom).
So it happened that on Tuesday I had an appointment right after school, and rushed off without checking messages. I had another appointment for a massage right after the first, so looked at my phone and saw that Dad had called. I took a minute before leaving the hairdresser to listen to his message, and discovered Mom had been taken to Emergency by ambulance that morning. I was pretty shaken up, and called him back. Bear in mind, he didn’t call the house phone where Steve could get the message, or the school phone where I’d be notified right away.
He got a call from Mary Alva’s (her former foster home) saying she was running a fever and had a suspected bladder infection, and they had called for the ambulance. At the hospital they determined that she had no fever; in fact, her temperature was below normal. The culture for the urinary infection was negative. Her blood pressure was off the charts due to the very upsetting experience of being hauled out of the place on a stretcher and being subjected to the ordeal.
Next, Mary, the owner of Mary Alva’s Senior Class informed my dad that since she was already out of their facility, he should find a new provider for her. So my dad was faced with putting her in Columbia Basin nursing home in The Dalles.
When I expressed dismay that he hadn’t contacted me directly, he replied, “You’re talking to an 81 year old man here. I can’t be bothered with trying to do that”. It’s such an indication of how he’s functioning. I tried to explain to him that I needed to call my next appointment to let her know that I was cancelling; in addition, I got a call from the contractor doing weatherizing on my home and had to deal with that. He got upset with me and said, “I don’t have time to deal with this (my interruptions). I am going to walk the dog and get on with my life. I’m exhausted.” And hung up on me.
I drove up to Sheri’s, my therapist, and sat in her lobby, trying to collect my wits. I reflected that the emergency was over – Mom was settled for now at Columbia Basin and Dad was off with the dog. There was nothing, really, I could do. In my new frame of mind, trying to take care of myself being more a priority, I decided to get my massage.
After returning home, I called Dad. He had settled down a bit. I told him I’d come over on Wednesday. The next afternoon I got a message from him on my cell and called back at about 3 PM. He invited me to join him for an intake appointment at Columbia Basin at 3:45. When I called him, he said, “Never mind. I changed my mind – I’m going to try to get her into the VA Home.”
“Dad, wouldn’t it make sense to keep the appointment and give yourself time to look around and make a decision based on what you see in the different options?” I asked.
“I guess you’re right”.
At that point, I had to pack up the computer quickly. The trip to The Dalles is often made at 70 rather than 65. Even so, I pulled in at the same time he did. We met with Glenna, a very nice social worker who helped him fill out the enormous stack of papers needing signatures and initials many times over.