Change of Life. . .

Change of Life. . .

Well, not the kind you might be thinking. That, unfortunately, seems to be a long time in coming. Life, though, is changing.

I didn’t realize how much the crap with Smart Carpet was stressing me out. I still have a bit left to go, because they pulled up the laminate floors and laid the carpet, but I still haven’t gotten my refund. I need to call now that it’s been three weeks, but I’ve had some impositions on my time, especially during “business hours.” We’re not done with putting furniture and decor back into their final destinations, but the fact that we can makes a big difference in my mood. A lot of the stress was having stuff stashed all over the house, so the two rooms with the defective floors looked like they were still works in progress, and the others looked like trash repositories. Never knowing if some inspector or installer was going to come, what time to expect them, and how long they might stay was driving me nuts. Arguing with them and being insulted by them didn’t help, either. Getting it down to just fighting about the money is a lot easier to deal with.

But just when you think you’re in the clear. . .

Mom dislocated her artificial hip last weekend. Dislocating a joint that no longer has tendons and ligaments to help hold it in place is way worse than dislocating an intact natural joint. 4 days and three nights in the hospital, reduction needing to be done under general anesthesia, physical therapy both in the hospital and yet to come, possible surgery to replace the replacement joint, and a restriction on driving that might be permanent. It’s been difficult for her, but it’s also been difficult for me and my Dad. You see, Dad is legally blind, can’t hear too well even with his hearing aids, and is starting to have memory problems that really disturb him because he knows exactly what he’s forgetting and can’t find it anywhere in his head. He has always been self-sufficient, and justifiably proud of his abilities, but now he needs to be taken care of, and so does mom, and his hands are tied.

I’ve always expected that, as the oldest child, the one geographically closest, and with the most flexibility (no outside job, older kids, husband who can work from home if needed), I’d be the one doing the caretaking in whatever capacity they needed. It’s one thing to know that philosophically, another to actually do it. Every other time I’ve driven out and spent time with them, it’s been for something clearly temporary like an illness or operation, or doing something in the house or garden that I’m more able to do than they are. When I go out there to help, it’s pretty clear that they’ll work things out, pulling together to overcome each others’ obstacles and do things according to their abilities. I’ve seen them aging, but never thought of them as “old”. I still don’t, but at the same time I know there are a lot of things I’m denying.

Right now, I spent time taking Dad back and forth for visits for a couple of days to the hospital, gave them some advice about taking advantage of some things they’re entitled to that will make their lives easier, get things ready in the house so Mom could get around and Dad could find stuff, and yesterday I did some grocery shopping for them so they’d have some things Mom could cook without standing for too long. They’re certain that they’ll be able to get around soon with the help of friends and senior transportation, and I nod and agree with them optimistically. It would be nice if they could, because they’re really independent and very busy with activities and friends that they truly enjoy, but I have to face the reality that I’m going to be stepping in more and more often.

Don’t get me wrong – I love my parents and enjoy spending time with them. I’m glad that hubby thought ahead and realized that me getting an outside job would be impractical even after the kids start becoming more independent. We’ve thought it through, planned for a few different scenarios, have a pretty good understanding of what changes might be coming for all of us in the future.

It’s different to face the reality, though. No matter how well you think it out, it doesn’t evoke the same emotions as actually experiencing it. All conflicts and difficulties are surmountable in theory, and you can prepare yourself magnificently for changes and compromises when you’re making practical plans.

People who’ve seen me in emergencies and tough situations that need strength and certainty know that I can pull it off like a pro. I swoop in, do what has to be done, take care of the things that need to be taken care of, make the arrangements that need to be made, negotiate, comfort, do battle, even, when needed. I’m the cool head, the one who knows what to do, the fixer. Hail the conquering hero! I wait until everything’s taken care of, everyone feels better and has been settled in, “my work here is done.” And that’s when I have the time to think, “ohshitohshitohshit. . .” My wonderful hubby helps so much, picking up the slack at home, letting me vent, helping in any way he can. But even with him, my muscles tense up. My fears and uncertainties come out in dreams and disturb my sleep. I wake up with pain in my neck and ear from clenching my teeth at night.

This will pass. I know it will. It always does, as the new thing becomes just another part of my life. It’s the change that’s hard.