Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Good Trip

Heading home after a quick but good trip to see my parents.  I scored an entire row to myself on the flight there which meant I got to sleep for a few hours which was a huge difference from my last trip across the pond.

My aunt picked me up at the airport and gave me a quick update on my parents.  Mom fell two days before my arrival.  She didn't get hurt but it took her and my Dad almost an hour to get her off the floor, which finally helped bring her to the realization that they need to be living someplace where they can get help if need be.   My aunt admitted that while she helped them out a lot in the beginning after they came back from the hospital she purposely does it less now.  Partly becuase she lives 45 minutes away and has her own husband to tend to (who is in a nursing home himself).  But even more so, she wants them to realize that they need help (which I agree is the right move) They have a social worker who stops by every two weeks to check on them and they will discuss options with that person when she comes this Thursday. They have already arranged for an antique store to buy some of their things as well as a antikvariat to come and look at their massive book collection and see what if anything they would be interested in.  

We had agreed that my arrival would be a surprise to our Dad (as my sister's had been the day before).  He was happily surprised and shortly after arriving I gave him the chocolate chips cookies I had baked for him before I left.  He happily dug in and ate 3 and has been pacing himself ever since. 

My sister had taken it upon herself to plan a party for him - with 21 people in attendance.  Normally he doesn't like to be the center of attention, in fact for his 50th birthday he purposely booked a family trip to Rome fro us so he could escape any party plans.  My Mom knew about the party but we didn't tell him about it until the day before so he wouldn't get overly anxious.  Mom was already worried about where everyone would sit since their dining room only seats 12 but we spread them out and no one minded being split up or having some eat in the living room.

We did have one more surprise in store though.  My parents tend to be homebodies but they do have some good friends they have known for almost 50 years who live in a different part of the country so they don't see each other too often.  The friends are mobile and love any excuse to travel so quickly agreed to come to the party as well and would stay with family near by for the weekend.  We arranged for them to arrive an hour before everyone else so they could all catch up.

Around 6 everyone else showed up and I think at first my Dad was overwhelmed as they pretty much all showed up at once.  Our house is not that big so it quickly became a flurry of activity.  My sister, my cousin and I were busy in the kitchen with final prep, while everyone else caught up.  We did our best to keep my Mom out of all the prep as she uses a walker now, but inevitably had some questions for her and unfortunately she always seemed to find it easier to go get what we needed for us, rather than just telling us where things were.  

The meal went well - roast beef (one of his favorites) along with the traditional birthday cake.  My sister and I each gave a short speech.  Our cousins with young kids didn't stay too long after dinner as the kids were getting tired, but I think that worked well for my Dad too.  Everyone was gone by around 1030 and then after we relaxed a bit, my parents went to bed and my sister and I cleaned up everything.  

The next day my parents slept in and relaxed and my sister and I each went for a run and then went into town to pick up souvenirs for our kids and to meet some of her friends for dinner.  Which was perfect.  I think my parents needed a chill day after the chaos of the day before, and I know my sister needed a night out.  I was happy to tag along.  We went to a great restaurant that she found on line called madklubben near nyhavn.  It was a pretty early night and we were home by 1030.  We talked with my parents a bit when we got home.  In my sister's usual take charge style she tried to get my Mom to agree to see a therapist.  She's going through a lot with my Dad, and finalizing her aunt's estate, along with getting their own house ready to sell, and all of this without being very mobile.  There's no faulting her being depressed but she doesn't like to talk about it with us and I truly doubt that she will see someone, but we tried to impress upon her that we are worried about them and we worry because we care.  Hopefully if nothing else, she'll be more forthcoming with what is going on in their life, the good and the bad.  

The next morning my sister left and I went for a run at the Ermitage castle.  It was a beautiful spring day and I got 5 miles in.  Felt great to run outdoors.

Traffic jam on the path to the castle :)

I went to the store and picked up a couple of things for me to bring home and to tide my parents over until their food delivery.  Along the way I passed a cute little flower shop full of promise that spring is on it's way.  I helped my Mom get the house back in order and went through some of my old things including lots of dollhouse stuff for the kids.

After my sister's badgering the previous night that my parents need to get out of the house more, the three of us did go out for dinner.  Just a new local place a short cab ride away (actually owned by the same people who run the restaurant we had been to the previous night) which was very good.  She brought her walker with us to get in and out of the restaurant and when we got there it was a little tight to get to our table.  She had to collapse her walker a little so she could get through and the people on both sides were both very nice to scooch their chairs in to help her get by, but I could tell her pride was hurt that they even noticed her.  Still once we settled in we had a nice meal and since we had a late reservation, it was pretty empty when we left.   It was definitely good to get them out.  I doubt they'll do it much on their own, but I hope so.  

Now I'm back to my regular duties as Mom.  I probably won't make another trip out until the fall as we're getting into the more expensive season ticketwise, but my sister and I are planning on going back for her birthday in September.  No idea where they will be at that point but hopefully somewhere more appropriate.  My aunt's apartment closes on the first of April so hopefully once she gets that settled she can focus on their own needs.  I don't think we'll plan a big party again, something smaller.  Another long weekend (thankfully my husband is already off) with a nice dinner out and maybe a trip to one of the art museums she's always enjoyed going to.  I know it embarrasses her to use a walker or be in a wheelchair for longer outings but I would hate for them both to just give up and waste away at home.

Overall I feel better now that I have been to see them, and have a better understanding of how things are going. My Dad's memory is definitely worse.  He does help my Mom a little bit, but there are times that she'll ask him to do simple tasks, like bring something up from the basement for her, and he gets down there and forgets why he's there.  Or he will try to say something and it will be really vague and when asked for more information he's already lost his train of thought.  She understandably gets frustrated but I also think she's getting a little forgetful too which certainly doesn't help matters.  

At this point there are still a lot of questions that still need to be answered, but I feel better knowing that they have finally resigned themselves to the fact that a change needs to be made, as much as they hate to leave their home.  

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