1. I sprang out of bed at 4:30 this morning so I'd have about an hour or so to shower, shave, drink coffee, write a blog post (3BTs), and finish packing a few last things.
The Deke and I have a good thing going. We are accustomed to stretches of time apart from each other. We have both struck out on our own many times to help out family members. I've made many extended trips to Kellogg over the last seventeen years or so, beginning when Mom was recovering from cancer treatment in 2000 and multiple times since then. The Deke has also traveled independently over the years to, among other things, be with her ailing and now deceased mother, to help out with the birth of Olivia, to see Adrienne when we all lived on opposite sides of the country, and to be with her brother, David, when he died in 2009.
We know how to do this.
The Deke and I also know how to live together, how to have fun, gab, laugh, mourn, vent, extend ourselves to others. help each other out, in short, live a good life together.
It's difficult when we separate.
This morning was no exception. We both know that my coming to Kellogg to be with Christy and Carol and to do all we can to help comfort and care for Mom is the right thing to do.
All the same, it was difficult to separate this morning. We will see each other again in July -- I'm very grateful for that -- and we'll yak on the phone. It'll all work out. It always does.
We have a good thing going.
2. I had easy flights to Chicago and then Spokane. The Byrdman picked me up at the airport and we got in some top notch yakkin' on the drive to Kellogg.
Christy and I went to Kindred around 2:30 or so and joined Carol who was already there to see Mom.
I last saw Mom in the middle of April, on the 13th, two months ago.
Mom's condition has weakened considerably in the last two months. I knew this was true because of how diligent Christy and Carol have been in describing and narrating Mom's difficulties almost daily
in updates they write and we share with each other on Google Docs.
But even having read all that my sisters wrote, seeing Mom in person startled me.
Her once potent voice is even more feeble. Her overall complexion is gray. When she had to visit the bathroom, she needed assistance sitting up, had to rest after sitting up before being helped to her feet and situated with her walker, and needed Carol's assistance to make her way into the commode. She sat on her walker and scooted it when she returned to bed, too tired and weak to walk back.
Mom is seeing things that none of the rest of us see -- tubes overhead, an envelope at the end of her bed, for example. She loses track of where she is. More than once today Mom thought she was in her house. She's not confused all the time. But when Christy and I returned for an evening visit, her lapses into confusion and the way she was seeing things that weren't there disconcerted both of us.
On Father's Day, we are having a family dinner to wish Carol God's speed as she departs for Italy on Monday. Molly, Zoe, and Cosette will get to honor Paul by fixing all of us dinner and expressing their love and gratitude for all that he's been to them and for them as their father.
The plan is for Mom to come over to Carol and Paul's for this dinner. I hope she can make it. I want to believe that joining in the festivities and being out in the fresh Kellogg air eating the girls' cooking and maybe having a nip of Riesling wine will boost her morale and bring joy to her fragile heart.
3. Christy, Carol, and I left Kindred and went uptown to a new establishment in town: Radio Brewing. The physical design of the place, the decor as well as the menus, is built around radios and vinyl records. It's a spacious and comfortable brewery with several beers already brewed, new ones to come, and a splendid menu. I enjoyed a couple of pints of Extra Special Bitter and the three of us shared a cheese plate and each had an entree -- I had mashed potatoes, gravy, and beef brisket served in a waffle cone -- I'd never had meat and potatoes served this way and enjoyed the taste as well as the novelty of my order.
By now, I'd been up and at it with having flown across the country since 1:30 a.m. PST and I was a little too tired to delve into Mom's finances in detail, but Carol helped Christy and me see that, generally speaking, in the short term, Mom's financial picture is all right. The three of us spent most of our time talking about Mom's ailing health, the progressive deterioration of her heart function and its impact on her mind and her body. We hope, if it works out on Kindred's end and if Mom agrees to it, that we can move Mom to a semi-private room where things would be quieter. We have a care meeting scheduled on Monday so we might find out more about this possibility at that time.
I'm deeply grateful that Christy, Carol, and I are working cooperatively to help Mom as best we can, not only by being with her as often as possible at Kindred, but by seeing to it that her house is clean and functioning and the same with her yard and garden. When Mom can pay her house and yard a visit and see how great everything looks, I hope it will make her happy to see that her family -- daughters, sons-in-law, grandchildren, grandson-in-law -- has worked diligently to keep everything looking good and to help her yard and garden thrive.