Christmas this year was to be celebrated about four hours south, where the new grandson resides! Of course, we wanted to be with him on his first Christmas. And his parents wanted to enjoy it in their own home. Actually, we began traveling for Christmas once my children were grown and my sister’s three were “Santa Claus age”. My mother usually traveled to my sister’s early in the month of December, to assist with the baking, wrapping and enjoying those grand kids. Ah, then the year of CHANGE and the Sandwich happenings.
The first year of the hip break, we celebrated with mother at the nursing home where she was in rehab. My sister’s family arrived the day after Christmas. The next year, we made the trip, only to have Mother come down with the nasty stomach bug that had been going around the assisted living. We thought Mother had been spared…until Christmas Eve, oops, yuck and WE ARE NOT PREPARED FOR THIS! And then as mother felt a bit better, I came down with the nastiness and then my sister. Merry Christmas.
Last year, mother was recovering from a fall, pneumonia and a UTI, so the family came to us. But this year….we HAD to go see that Grandson, so prayers for mother’s strength and ability to travel began in early fall! We prefaced each answer to the question of “What are your holiday plans?” with ” If Mother stays well…..” I am not sure what we would have done if she had not been able to travel. I doubt I could have left her at the assisted living – the guilt would have been too much to bear -.but that new baby boy on his first Christmas would be so delightful. I suppose God knew it would be a no win, agonizing decision for me, so he arranged for me to NOT have to make such a difficult decision. Thank you Lord!
Then the real fun began. First, we arranged to hire some care assistance at my sister’s home. Two years ago, we took turns sleeping in mother’s room and getting up for her numerous bathroom visits. I am now two years older and just didn’t want to face that! Then the logistics, – my husband could bring the luggage and the gifts. I would drive my car with Mother, her wheel chair, walker, and her luggage, bag of Depends, Poise pads, and all the meds. One bag of the specific meds for each dosage time…we had 8 bags with a detailed list of when and how to dispense. (Thank you assisted living staff!) Our dogs and cat were off to the kennel and the assisted living staff were kind enough to agree to feed Mother’s bird and visit with him each day.
My packing for a trip in the last few years has gotten much more complicated. My toiletries seem to be increasing exponentially! The special shampoo for colored treated hair, the anti frizz cream, and root touch up to cover those blasted white lines that show up so soon! And then the usual mousse, hairspray and hair dryer. Oh, and then the facial creams. Why is it that at the same time in life requiring several wrinkle creams, I also have acne much worse than I did at age 15??!! Good grief! and then my own meds- thyroid, anti-depressant ( every caregiver’s friend), the cholesterol med, and then the vitamins and supplements touted to keep this old and stressed girl moving and full of energy!
And then we were off!. No snow, but lots of rain. The place we always stop for potty breaks, gas and lunch was PACKED! NO handicapped spots available and the only parking spot was FAR from the handicapped ramp. Mother’s newly coiffed hair ( done that morning, just before our departure) stayed lovely with the umbrella held over her wheelchair. ( Too wet and the far parking place nixed the use of the walker.) My hair, on the other hand, well, I had a rubber band in my pocket that was useful as I made a pony tail quickly.
I won’t go in to the details of the handicapped stall in the bathroom other than to say that after much maneuvering and effort…Mother couldn’t go. ” I just can’t relax”, she said. That will ensure another stop a bit further down the road! Oh, joy!
But as we drove, Mother began to sing along with the carols on the radio. She began to reminisce about past trips to the city in the south. Her details were mixed-up and inaccurate but she was chatting happily. Occasionally, she lost her train of thought…but would just laugh and quickly began a new one! I gripped the steering wheel as I battled holiday drivers and the rain, but was greatly relieved Mother wasn’t complaining about my driving as she usually does! Then we hit the big city and the accompanying traffic jam! But while she marveled at all the cars, she continued with her chatter and her good mood.
We arrived with my shoulders and neck aching, my eyes tired, and my legs stiff. Mother was thrilled to see my sister’s children, the caregiving assistant seemed confident and my sister had dinner waiting on us. The little one arrived shortly and was just as sweet and adorable as always and as he sat on my mother’s lap goo-ing and coo-ing, I thought to myself, “Thank you Santa, I have all the gifts I need this year.”
Merry Christmas to each of you. I wish you moments of peace, gratitude, and joy amidst the holiday hustle and bustle. And enjoy the sandwich.