David and I have spent the last five years of our life chasing my father- in-law down the rabbit hole of Alzheimer’s. We knew going in that we were just helping Mom keep Dad safe and happy for the last days of his life. We knew that this was a war that could never be won but we were determined to let Dad battle it out with as much dignity as possible. David’s Dad lost his battle with Alzheimer’s on November 5th.
Jackie, my mother-in-law had put everything on hold for five years. She gave up her normal life to move in with David and me. She was Dad’s beacon of light as his mind left him in the dark constantly wondering where he was. Now it was time for my Mother-in-law to return to her normal life. The life where she has a beautiful 3-bedroom condo looking out over a bay in southern Florida. The life where she goes out to eat with her friends and golfs in a 9-hole league at her country club. The life where she is in charge and free to roam about the country at will.
We pointed our car south with a sense of relief and guilt. While we miss Paul very much we really didn’t miss the chaos of taking him on a road trip. It was a relief to be able to pass each exit without being told, “Get off here, this is the one” and then deal with Paul’s anger that you missed it until his brain looped and you were coming up on the next exit and the conversation began again. It was a relief not told to be on constant lookout for the water that “should be just right over there any minute” as we cruised at 75 miles an hour through land locked Georgia. It was a relief to make the trip without Dad thinking that we were all idiots and had no idea where we were going so we should stop so he could ask directions. David was relieved to be able to pump gas and go to the bathroom without having to worry about making a hasty exit from the gas station in fear of being arrested because Dad decided to relieve himself al fresco.
We spent a few days with Mom in her condo making sure she was settled before we headed back to our house at the beach. Catching the on ramp to the interstate David and I laughed. When we left Jess, our youngest child, at college in Ohio we were sad and weepy at the loss of our little girl to the grown up world but we were also elated at the opportunity to be alone for the first time in our marriage. Now the opportunity has presented itself to us again. After 30 years of marriage, raising 3 children and helping out with my in-laws for 5 years, its finally just going to be the Dave and Kae show.
Watch out 2016—this will be the year of Empty Nest—who knows what trouble we can get ourselves into now that we are being left unattended!
Happy New Year!
Thanks so much for taking time to read this. Don’t forget to share with your friends. We would love to hear your comments as well.