Sunday, October 12, 2003

Barking dogs

My house is quieting down. The Best Dog in the World and Good Old Boy are flopped and snoring on the floor. My mother's little poodle was in the household for about 20 hours. Putting him in with my two dogs started a dogfest of hyper barking, tearing through the house, and more barking. Barking at each other, barking at the neighbor's dog who was barking because they were barking. I vaguely remember telling them to 'shut UP' several times during the night.

My brother picked up the poodle this morning, to take him to live with him and his family. My mother is now in an assisted living facility (ALF). I've been working very hard the past week, making all the arrangements. I met the hospital social worker to arrange for a good place with good care for my mother, near me, where I can check on her care, visit her and take her for outings. I'm happy to report that Mom is stronger, physically. She doesn't seem to have any short-term memory retention at all, though. I'm praying for improvement.

I have been in a number of nursing and assisted living facilities in the area through ministry activities. I know the good, the bad and the ugly ones. Mom is in a good one. Not that she wants to be in any at all--every day, she is convinced she is about to go home. I called Friday afternoon and the nurse said Mom had been sitting with her pocketbook all day, waiting for me to pick her up and take her home-- although Mom hasn't been able to remember what her house, where she lived for 20 years, even looks like.

Getting Mom in the ALF was accomplishment of the biggest step. There were still her pets to deal with. I had been stopping by her house every day to feed and check on them, leaving the dogs on the screened patio with the door set for access in and out of the yard. The ALF nurse said her parakeet could take up residence in the parlor, so I moved him there after getting Mom in (sadly, Mom didn't recognize the bird, although she's had him for five or six years).

Two of my brothers said they would each take one dog, but they seemed content to let me run back and forth (20 miles one-way) to take care of them for another six weeks, when they would come down for a Thanksgiving family meeting. I nixed this by putting the dogs in the kennel at my vet's. There was a good possibility the dogs would get out of Mom's yard again (they had done this on the day I took my mother to the emergency room and I had to chase them down). They were overdue for their shots, which would incur big trouble with animal control if they should survive long enough to be picked up. And now the poor dogs were increasingly anxious about being left alone.

So, now the poodle has gone to his new home, freshly bathed, with up-to-date shots, and the other dog should go to hers next week. I'm still looking for a home for the cat.

It hasn't been easy dealing with my brothers. I feel like they left me all alone with the situation until I had taken care of everything. I hardly heard from them while Mom was in the hospital (neither did she), but as soon as Mom was transferred to the ALF, they suddenly started calling a lot. The brother who hasn't gotten down here yet called me the other night and grilled me about the place where Mom is; is it a good place, and so forth.

Maybe the tone of self-righteous pomposity in his voice stemmed from a bit of guilt. Of course, he has been much too busy with his life and his job to be here for any of this. I'm working hard at not being angry. He really doesn't know how bad Mom is, because he hasn't absorbed what I've told him and he hasn't been down here. He had seemed content to wait until Thanksgiving to even see her.

Something will have to be done with Mom's house. It needs to be cleaned up and sold, but I'm not even going to try and tackle that right now. I would need power of attorney (POA) to handle it, anyway. The not-here-yet brother asked about the house when he called the other night. He sounded like he didn't want me to take action to get POA--maybe he wants it. But he'll still expect me to handle the grubby stuff, while he makes long-distance decisions. Wrong. If he wants it, he can have it, but he'll take care of things from that point on.

I'm praying against a hard heart, and to keep decent relationships with my family.

Dear Lord,

Give me strength and courage to deal with the challenges that each day brings. Give me a cheerful heart and countenance. Give me a soft heart, so that I do not harbor resentment or antagonism. Please bring my family together through Your mediation and Your grace. Bind us up in Your love.

Give me discernment to see the way, and energy to go there, for I am very tired.

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