Friday, December 12, 2014

A + B ≠ C

The time came for my mom to make the decision whether to bring my dad home from the rehabilitation center following his hospitalization, or to make him a permanent resident of the nursing facility.  Knowing her, I can't imagine the emotional turmoil she must have gone through during this process.  My mother is neither Catholic nor Jewish, so I have no idea where all her guilt comes from.  Most likely, she views not being able to care for my Dad more as a lack of duty.  In any case, I'm not certain how I would make that same decision.

I guess the fortunate thing is that the decision was, for the most part, made for her.  Both Dad and his physical therapist performed a home visit last week so that the therapist could see if Dad would be able to physically live in my parents' house again.  You see, Dad can't walk anymore.  Maybe a step here and there but he is mostly wheelchair-bound now.  And my parents' house is, shall we say, multilevel.

The house I grew up in was built about 100 years ago.  From what I can tell, it was originally just 4 rooms - two downstairs and two upstairs.  And then at some point, a kitchen and indoor bathroom were added on, making it three rooms across the first floor and three across the second.  I know this because when we renovated the kitchen many years ago, the plaster on one wall was covering up the original exterior of the house.  And the door sills to both the kitchen and upstairs bathroom don't exactly line up with their adjoining rooms.  Plus, indoor bathrooms - at least in that part of the State - were not a thing at the turn of the last century.  We'll call this section of the house Part A.

This was a pretty basic setup until, at some point, someone came along and literally added another house to the back of my parent's house, essentially doubling its size.  We'll call this section of the house Part B.  These two homes, while conjoined, were always meant to function as two separate living quarters.  When my parents bought the entire building in 1971 and knocked out a few walls to combine the two "units" into one, they found that the floor and ceiling levels in Part A did not line up with the floor and ceiling levels of Part B by several feet, in some rooms.  So this made the result of A+B, which I guess would equal C, to be one character-filled house.

I'll save further details about the inside of my folks' quirky house for another posting, but suffice is to say that Dad's therapist took one look at the inside of the house and did the straight white man version of, "Oh, HAYell no!".  And rightly so.  There is no way Dad would be able to subsist in this environment.  So it was pretty much a no-brainer that he'd permanently move to the nursing home, which was yet another decision being made that was out of Mom's control.

Mom seems to be rolling with the punches for the most part.  She has a deep faith that she depends on to get her through situations like this - situations in which she pretty much does not have a say despite the situations directly affecting her.  The last time she went through this type of process was probably when all her kids grew up and started making our own decisions - decisions that both directly and indirectly affected her, but that she had no real part in deciding, like when we broke up with girlfriends and boyfriends of whom she had become fond, or when we chose to move away from home, have kids, get married, etc.  And maybe, as a parent, you somehow prepare yourself for these types of eventualities.  But when it comes to your spouse, it seems downright unfair that the decision of where that person lives is pretty much taken out of your hands.

Mom will get used to it because she has to.  And she'll adapt because she knows Dad is being cared for and she DOES get to have a say in that.  Still, all in all, this has to suck.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Remembering Bobby

The last few nights, I've been thinking about my friend, Bobby Mellott.  Bobby sadly passed away in June, earlier this year.

Bobby and I were friends when I lived in DC.  We met September 30, 1995 at TRACKS.  I had only been living in DC for about two weeks at that point so I didn't know anyone yet.  We became instant friends when we both discovered we lived on Capitol Hill, which was considered Social Siberia in the 90's.  That sole fact is probably what brought us closer together.

Bobby remained a good friend for the 10 years I lived in DC, even during the few years in the middle where he lived in NYC.  He was caring and supportive and nauseatingly optimistic.  His enthusiasm and passion for what and who he loved was infectious.  To be in Bobby's company meant that you were the only two people in the world.  Ever complimentary, ever supportive, ever cheerful.

Bobby's eyes were a combination of "constant sparkle" and "mischievous glint".  His smile most likely got him in and out of trouble in equal measures.  He had more energy than any person I had met to that point.  I remember one afternoon sitting in the grass in Lincoln Park on Capitol Hill, having a 2-hour conversation with Bobby while he spun around on roller blades.  The entire time, he remained focused on me and engrossed in our conversation.

After I moved to Chicago in 2005, we lost touch.  And this is the point where I bless Facebook.  For all its banality and glitches and pains, it has allowed me to maintain, and in Bobby's case regain, those true friendships that stand the test of time.  The last time I saw him was the week before I moved to Chicago.  He had heard of my heart surgery and wanted to see for himself that I was okay.  I wish I could have spent more time in his company the last few years, because with him was a wonderful place to be.

Rest in peace, dear friend.