Aunt Louise and Uncle Ed, my mom’s sister and brother-in-law, drove in from Chicago just after Christmas to help out with my grandparents.
My grandma had surgery just before Christmas. It was a minor procedure, but everyone was committed to making sure that she took it easy. As my mom handled surgery and the days that followed, she and my dad left the care of my grandparents up to my aunt and uncle and took a short vacation.
Really short. 48 hours.
The first 24 hours were uneventful. And then, on the second day, Grandpa had a bad day. His mobility was horrible (this happens sometimes if he was very busy the day before – which he was) and his behavior was awful (this also happens sometimes if he was very busy the day before – think overtired toddler).
My aunt and uncle called an ambulance. I don’t know why my grandma didn’t stop them, other than she’s constantly afraid of pissing off my aunt, but she did not.
It was a curious choice, as there was nothing going on that was life-threatening but I will chalk that up to them being inexperienced with his care and also scared.
He shouldn’t have been in the hospital. And, when he got there, he acted as many dementia patients do: like a crazy fucking lunatic. Yelling, kicking, tearing out his IV, hitting.
Eventually he was sedated.
When I called to tell her, my mom was devastated. To her credit, she had some restraint and decided not to come home. She assumed that he would stay overnight in the hospital (he did) and then they would discharge him to come home.
At one point, her voice got especially said as she remarked that my grandpa would probably be put in restraints unless there was somebody with him overnight.
I thought about how I wouldn’t want my father in restraints. So I stayed overnight with my grandpa.
(Meg, my sister, drove home and sat with Grandpa at the hospital and was a great advocate for him. I think we did a decent job of being a surrogate for our mom.)
Despite a horrible night of sleep, I sucked it up and went to work the next day. My mom stayed in contact with my aunt and uncle. Don’t put him in rehab, she told them. Don’t agree to physical therapy unless it’s at-home physical therapy. Don’t put him in rehab. Don’t put him in rehab. He’s not the right candidate for rehab.
They put him in rehab.
When she found out, my mom was a wreck.
Upon returning home, she expressed this to my aunt. Supposedly kindly, though I wasn’t there. They did not like that she wasn’t appreciative or supportive of their choice. My aunt and uncle, who were staying at my mom’s house, responded to my mom’s honesty by sneaking out of her house at 6:00 the next morning.
My aunt left her Christmas presents behind as a final fuck you.
That morning, Aunt Louise and Uncle Ed took my grandma up to the rehab facility. They texted my mom to say that Grandpa had a very good night.
(Meg, talked to my grandma during this same time and she told her the complete opposite.)
Then the left and went back to Chicago.
My grandma went back to the rehab facility that afternoon.
And by early that evening, was crying to my mom that she wanted him out of the facility. Immediately.
For all of the reasons that my mom said that he shouldn’t go to rehab in the first place: because it’s not a memory care facility, because there will be one nursing assistant to every 20 patients, because they wouldn’t have any choice but to drug him and hold him down and leave him sitting in dirty briefs.
My mom had him home by 11:00 the next morning.
He gets better care at home. He does better at home. My grandma wants him home.
My mom increased the hours that his caregiver works. She’s scheduled at-home physical therapy (though it won’t do much good). She takes my aunts calls and pretends that my aunt hadn’t fired the first shot by sneaking out of the house and leaving her Christmas presents behind.
If my grandpa had miraculously done well in rehab, Aunt Louise would have written my mom off completely. They wouldn’t be speaking. Guaranteed. But Aunt Louise has her tail between her legs (as much as my very arrogant, very proud aunt can) and she’s pretending like nothing is wrong between them.
Grandpa got home on New Year’s Eve. He was exhausted and covered in bruises.
2016 was 2016 right down to the last minute.
Happy New Year, friends. I hope you’re enjoying your fresh start.