Monday, December 5, 2011

Saying "Good-Bye" Was Harder Than I Expected...

This past week brought some of the most difficult experiences I've had in a long time.  Our little Timothy has been spending time with us and his grandparents for the last 3½ months.  I would say he has probably spent at least 1/3 of those days and nights with us... maybe closer to half.  We have grown very attached, and Timmy truly bonded with us.  My sister said he got up every morning he was at her house asking to come to ours... and every evening when she picked him up at daycare, he asked, "Go to Aunt Debbie's?"  So I knew it would be hard to say "Good-bye" to him when he returned to Texas to live with his mother and baby sister... I just didn't know how hard.

The plan was for my sister and her husband to leave on Sunday, December 4, and drive Timothy to Texas.  However, a scheduling conflict at work caused my sister's days off to be changed.  My brother-in-law called me in a panic around noon on Thursday and said, "We have to leave tomorrow... do you want to go get Timmy and keep him tonight so you and Greg can have some time with him?"  I told him that we did, and I stopped in the middle of decorating for Christmas, grabbed a quick shower, and headed to the daycare to pick up Timothy.  Both the daycare owner and her aide cried when we left.  They walked away so Timmy would not see them.  He happily told them "Bye!" and "See you later!"

We thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the afternoon and evening with Timothy.  We took a walk down the nature trail - taking turns pushing his stroller, and calling it a "big adventure."  We played with toys and rode the tricycle.  We read books, colored, and watched Timmy's favorite TV shows and videos on YouTube.  And we tried not to count the minutes.  My mother came for a visit, and she had a hard time saying "Good-bye."  She had visited Mam-ma before coming over, and she told me that Mam-ma was not doing well... could not put sentences together... and that she had asked about Timmy and cried when Mom told her that he really was leaving.

Friday, we continued spending time with Timmy - doing everything he wanted to do and making the most of each hour.  I knew my sister was planning to pick him up in the afternoon... we had made plans to attend a Christmas dinner with friends that evening. My sister phoned around 3:00 to see if Timmy was awake, but he was about halfway through what I thought would be a two-hour nap.  I assured her I would call her when he awoke.  Greg sat nearby and "listened" for him while I took a shower.  I had just turned off my hair dryer when I heard him whimper.

Greg went to Timmy's crib and tried to console him.  He was crying for his Aunt Debbie.  Before I could soothe him, the phone rang... it was Mam-ma.  I don't know how on earth she does it, but she always seems to sense when I am really busy with Timothy - or even when he is here.  At any rate, she was upset... her glass bluebirds were "missing," and she just knew someone had stolen them.  I assured her they would show up, and I tried to be patient as she complained and disagreed with me. She said, "I've cried more over them than anything... Timmy loved playing with them so."  I told her Timmy was two - tomorrow he would love something else!  Finally, I told Mam-ma that I would come on Saturday and look for the bluebirds, and we hung up.

I returned to Greg and Timmy, and we sat and held him together for several minutes.  He was not good and awake, and he whimpered and sat snuggled against us.  Greg decided to grab a quick shower, and I called my sister to let her know Timmy was awake.  She said they were packing the car, but they would come soon and get him.  By the time Greg finished with his shower and dressed, my sister and brother-in-law were here. 

While Greg showered, I sat with Timmy and talked softly to him.  I told him how much we loved him... that he was going to have a good time in Texas... and that he had to go home with his GaGa and get a good night's sleep so they could leave early the next morning to go and see his mommy and his sister Zola.  I also reminded him that he could call me... every day... more than once.  I reminded him that every time he saw the moon, he would know that Uncle Greg and I love him... and I told him, "Make your mommy read your 'God books' to you and Zola every night!"  He would nod his head in agreement each time.

Timmy was still grumpy, and when he saw his grandparents, he started to cry again. He did not want to go.  Greg and I sat with him and tried to assure him it would be a good thing.  We all just sat for a while... until there was really nothing left to do but gather his belongings and say "Good-bye."  My sister and I were already in tears, and Timmy began to cry loudly.  He clung to me and didn't want to go.  I carried him to the car, screaming and clinging to me.  I put him in and strapped him into his car seat.  Then Greg and I both kissed him one last time, and I shut the door.  My sister said, "You know he will stop crying in a little bit."  I did know that, but it still broke our hearts to stand on our driveway and wave good-bye and blow kisses, knowing it will be months or more before we see our little guy again.  A part of me also cried because I knew he had missed his family... and he would be so thrilled to see them again.

I think God knew we needed a diversion, so he scheduled things in such a manner that we had this dinner party to attend.  He definitely shielded me from the prolonged agony of Timmy's departure.  I didn't have time to burst into tears and wail for hours, like I would have liked.  I had to finish dressing and get my food together for the potluck dinner, then get in the car and drive to our friends' house.  Greg and I both went into the "get-ready" mode and didn't say much to each other.  I told my mother today that I know God shielded me all night, because I slept fairly well, and it wasn't until the next day when reality truly began to sink in and I had time to be sad and grieve a bit.

Even then, I didn't have much time for sadness, because I had promised to go to Mam-ma's and look for the bluebirds.  I entered her room, and she was in a tizzy... they were still missing.  I started looking... under the bed, I found one.  She always keeps the birds atop the heat and air unit underneath her window, so I started systematically looking in that area.  The first object I came to was a decorative hat box on the floor.  I removed the lid... there were the other 3 bluebirds.  Mam-ma became irate... "Now those were not there 30 minutes ago!" she exclaimed.  She said that the maintenance man, James, had come into her room and assured her that he would find them.  I told her, "Maybe he put them in here for safe keeping."  She didn't believe me... but she insisted I bring the bluebirds home with me for safekeeping. 

It was almost time for lunch, so I put the birds in my car and went back inside to walk Mam-ma to lunch.  We sat for a while and visited with the other ladies at her table.  I noticed a tall young man walk through the dining area with bags of lab equipment slung over his shoulders.  I thought, "He's here to draw blood from someone."  In the next minute, a nurse was coming toward us, "Ms. Polly... the man is here to draw your blood."  She explained to me that the doctor had made monthly rounds on Friday, and he had ordered a Urinary Analysis and blood work... "because Ms. Polly is so confused.  She is accusing people of stealing from her, and she can't put sentences together coherently." 

I explained to the nurse that Mam-ma was upset because Timothy was leaving.  The nurse did not realize that this was happening, and she understood and agreed that this probably was contributing to the confusion.  She had seen Timmy and me there visiting Mam-ma the previous Sunday.  I told her that I knew all about the bluebirds, and she said, "James went into Ms. Polly's room and found them this morning."  I told her that I now have the bluebirds.  I asked if she would notify me before the doctor changed any medications or did anything differently, and she said, "Oh, absolutely!" 

I explained that we have seen a rapid decline in Mam-ma in recent weeks, and that she is praying to die.  I told her, "We really don't expect to have her much longer."  She seemed surprised, but she agreed that Mam-ma is definitely declining rapidly.

I added that Mam-ma could live another ten years, but I feel like she is beginning to lose her ability to function mentally, and the nurse agreed, adding that Mam-ma comes to the nurses' station several times a day and cannot remember why she is there.  I stayed a little longer with Mam-ma and left her in the dining room eating her lunch.

When I got home, my sister called to say that they had made it to Texas, and I could hear Timmy squealing and laughing in the background.  She said his reunion with my niece was amazing... that when he saw her, he began squealing "Mommy!  Mommy!"  Then my niece sent me pictures of our happy little boy, and I knew we would all be just fine.

I called my Grandmother on Sunday to assure her that Timmy is safe and well... and to remind her that I have the bluebirds.  She said, "Well, we'll see... there are still about three birds missing."  I told her that we only moved into Southridge with five birds, and I think one got broken several months ago.  Last Sunday, there were four birds for Timmy to play with... and I brought home four birds.  I told her, "Nobody is stealing from you... I have all of your bluebirds, and no one is taking anything else."  She said, "Well, I'm not so sure."

So the changes have begun. It's been so quiet around our house, and it seemed strange to finish the Christmas decorating this weekend, knowing Timmy and Zola will not see it.  But it gave me something to do to keep busy... and I was already more than 2/3 decorated, so it seemed silly not to finish.  Mam-ma has not called again... and I did not call her today. 

Mam-ma did call early last week to ask Greg why we didn't come to her birthday party.  It took her forever to get out her questions... and Greg wasn't even sure she knew who she had called.  We finally determined that Southridge had a collective party for all who celebrate birthdays in November.  Greg assured her that we were not invited... that the party was for her and her friends there at Southridge.  He reminded her that we did have a party for her... we took her to lunch at a local restaurant.  But he was really bothered by how confused she was... and how difficult it was for her to speak on the phone.

Today, Mam-ma's long-time housekeeper, Mary, phoned me and asked if Mam-ma is sick.  I told her no, and she said, "Well, I just talked to her, and she didn't sound well."  So I explained what has happened and Mary said, "I've made sugar cookies using Ms. Polly's recipe, and I wanted to take her some tomorrow if you think it's okay.  She is like family to me."  I assured her it was fine... that I can't promise Mam-ma will eat them, but please go and take them.  Mary said she would not stay long, but she would take cookies and some chocolate drop candy that Mam-ma enjoys.

People are so kind and loving to Mam-ma... including the staff at Southridge.  I told Mary today that I think Mam-ma is losing her mind... and if that is the case, I hope she doesn't linger.  It's not my call, and I know that... but I remember how hard it was to talk to my maternal grandmother and visit her after dementia set in.  She always seemed to recognize me and my mother... but she had a baby doll she thought was a real baby, phantom "thieves" and ne'er-do-wells who visited her room, and she insisted my grandfather (who had been dead for several years) was living in the nursing home with another woman - she saw them dining together in the dining hall.  I do not want my Mam-ma to suffer those indignities.

My husband asked me tonight what I plan to do with my spare time, now that we are not keeping Timmy several days/nights each week.  I told him I have a stack of projects I've set aside.  I am sure I will have no trouble finding something to do.  I am also sure that there will be more to attend to for Mam-ma in the coming days/weeks, as well... and this time I will not have to juggle the care of a little one in order to get it all done. 

The changes continue...and there will be more hard "good-byes" to come.  But for now, I am resting... in more ways than one... and resting in God's promises that He will never give me more than I can handle - and that He will truly supply every need of mine and my family.

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