I woke this morning at 5 AM with a million thoughts in my head. Try as I might, I couldn't fall back to sleep for a very long time, and then fitful dreams convinced me to give up and start the day.
My house is almost quiet right now. There is only the hum and gurgle of the massive fish tank in the living room and the sound of the Porta-Potty cleaning truck out side. When dad moved in with us it became apparent very quickly that our one bathroom would never handle all seven of us, especially with dad's frequent visits and a toddler trying to potty train. "The Beast" that sits in the garage leaks, was replaced 4 times in eight months, and fills the house with quite an aroma on a 100 degree Sacramento day. Ironic that this is to be his last scheduled day for cleaning the beast, because today is the day that dad will be moving.
Well, that is the plan, I am not even sure about that. The months have been filled with daily uncertainty. My sister will come and take dad today as long as her husband is doing OK from his surgery. I feel guilty that she is taking Dad so soon after the surgery, though she said "Aw, this is nothin'." Her daughter had 3 surgeries this past year and is scheduled for more. I see my strong, capable sister, mother of 10, ready to take on the next heavy burden, ready to do what is hard. Even as I sit here nauseated and dizzy, I think I should have done better. I thought I would be better at doing hard.
I am pregnant. Finally. Finally, as in "the last time", and finally, because after a year of trying since our last miscarriage, we are pregnant at last and I am so grateful. I feel like crap, but am thrilled that I do. When I started feeling sick with this pregnancy, we began to allow ourselves to feel a little hopeful. Sickness had not come with the last two babies before we lost them. When my hubby asked the first time he noticed me laying down, "How ya doin'?" and I had said, "Yuck", he smiled and said "Yay!!!" in a reverent, little cheer, looking almost teary eyed. That is now my response to him when I lay on the couch feeling like I am on a moving boat. "How ya doin'?" he asks. "yay" I say.
Dad woke up yesterday and set about to packing. We gave him his luggage and 4 boxes, which I had to repack for him because he only put a few things in each and then ran out of room. I am actually surprised that he is not up already this morning, sitting on the side of his bed staring at his hands, shoes on, ready to go. That is what he has done each time we have had a big day ahead, like his sigmoidoscopy or the morning we had take him to the airport. I had said I would wake him at eight. He was up and ready at four.
I look around at the house. Everything has been pushed together to make room. Tessa sleeps on my bedroom floor since the dining room Ellie sleeps in is only 8 feet square. Their clothes are in the boys' closet. "What will you do with all of your extra room?" Dad asked yesterday. In my mind I saw the congested spaces reallocate them selves as if by magic, the house seeming to sigh. There would be space, but not really extra. "Put a baby in it." I said.
The worst part of today will come when dad has to say goodbye to our dog Toby. Toby, our slow, old springer spaniel. He was the blessing that got us all through this difficult time. Dad has spent every waking minute with him, and all the sleeping ones, too. Dad missed his dog, Willow, and easily transferred his loyalty to Toby, and then some. I worry about them both after they are apart. Dad has asked us if he can take Toby with him. I mentioned his request to the kids and they started to cry. How could I ask them to give up their dog? I still have to tell dad that the answer is no.
Sure enough, dad was actually up, and just came out to take Toby for a walk. This will be the last time. I still get nervous that this time he will get confused and get lost. I can't imagine what it is going to feel like when we get up tomorrow. No pills to give, no checking on him. No worrying when I leave for a while about him eating the wrong things, making tea and leaving the burner on, locking himself out. I imagine that for weeks I will get up every morning and head to the cupboard that holds his diabetes testing supplies. Before we moved to Sacramento we managed an apartment complex and every morning by eight we had to unlock the laundry room door. Every once in a while, six years later, I bolt up in bed on a Saturday morning thinking I need to go unlock the laundry room. I'm sure that even when he's not here, a part will linger.
I think I had the best situation I could have had. With Alzheimers, it only gets worse. You can count on it. I had Dad while he is still pretty OK. My sister and brothers will now begin taking turns caring for him. By the next time I see him, he may be much worse. I am sad that they will have to watch that happening, and they will be taking care of him as he gets harder and harder to manage. We have been very lucky in that way.
My friends tell me not to feel badly, that I took good care of Dad and that it is time for me to tend to the life growing inside me. But there is not much about this situation that feels good. I hope Dad knows I love him and I tried. I hope Mom understands.