Saturday, January 30, 2010

Alexander, who happens to be me, and the horrible, terrible, no good, very bad day!

Yesterday turned into an "Alexander" kind of day. You know, the "horrible, terrible, no good, very bad day" kind of day? I have them every once in awhile, I'm sure everyone does, but thankfully, they are few and far between. And usually they are sort of funny later, but it's too soon. It's not funny yet.
I took half a day off from work to drive to Rochester for my dad's meeting at the Nursing Home/Rehab center. For many reasons, I had to drive my husband's truck. Not normally a big deal. When I left home with it, I noticed the brakes seemed a little "soft," they went almost all the way to the floor when I wanted to stop. My first and only thought at the time was, that I was used to driving my Jeep, which is newer, and therefore, the brakes in it seem harder, firmer, and it was probably just the difference between the two I was noticing. Off I went. I did notice it again once I got into the city, and city traffic, which was more stop and go at exits, stop lights, etc. A couple of times I noticed that while I thought I was stopped, completely, waiting for a green light, and took the opportunity to send a quick text (yeah, yeah, yeah, I KNOW that's bad) I would look up and realize I was creeping forward. Hmmm. Again, no real SERIOUS thought that anything was terribly wrong.
My dad's meeting was not one I was looking forward to. It was a meeting with the Nursing Home Social Worker, the Nurse Director, my sister, my dad and I, to let him know once and for all, officially and formally, that he was not going to be able to go home again, and to decide, or let him decide as best he could, whether he would rather go to the Houghton Nursing Home, or try Assisted Living in his own apartment in Geneseo. It wasn't a good meeting. It wasn't bad, in any of the obvious ways. No one yelled, or screamed, or cried. But it was full of heavy emotional overtones for both my sister and I, and obviously for my father, who has lived in his home for 60+ years. It was sad. But I thought I was fine. Actually, in all honesty, the last few weeks since his heart attack, hospitalization, the revelation of his nighttime dementia, transfer to rehab and decisions that have had to be made, and all the time put in to thinking about the decisions and discussing them with my siblings, and trying to withstand the nightly phone calls from my dad-who-is-not-really-my-dad-at-that-time-of-night when he calls to demand that we take him home, swears at us for not understanding him, tells us he will hitchhike home, asks what the HELL we are thinking (this is a man who has never used bad language in his life - except once, when I was little I remember him saying DAMN to me, and it was my fault because I was being REALLY annoying to my mother, and I was SHOCKED into silence and better behavior! - which was clearly his motivation!) - the past few weeks have been taking a VERY heavy emotional toll which is not necessarily counted on a daily basis. After all, this is life, a part of life, and you just do what you have to do day by day, whether you like it or not. That IS what adults do, right? And really, what good does it do to sit around and whine about it, or cry about it. But, I guess it is only fair to realize that while this IS life, and while none of us like it, it DOES affect you emotionally, underground, whether you realize it or not.
I leave my dad's meeting, and notice that the brake light is on. Sometimes the emergency brake, which does not work, gets stuck, and you have to wiggle it around. I tried that, with no luck. So, I went on to my next stop, which was a craft store. I have been "allowing" myself a stop at one store and a $20.00 purchase some of the times I have to go to Rochester (an hour and a half trip) so that I have something to "decompress" with, after visiting my dad, which is not really a cheerful sort of trip right now. Last week I bought new yarn, and new crochet hooks. Last night I spent an hour picking out a couple of things for a friend who is also having a rough time right now, and a couple of small craft projects to work on for others, and I found some awesome Rooster placemats for a dollar a piece. So you see, the money I spend is NOT the object, acquiring more "things" is NOT the object. (My goal for this year is actually to rid my house and myself of too many "things" that we currently have; live more simply, you know?) Wandering about a place with lots of things to look at, with time to think about other people in my life, time to think about craft projects which I thoroughly enjoy, is a good way to NOT think about my dad's circumstances any longer, since dwelling on them, on him, occupies enough of my time. It is time I take, I MAKE, for my sanity.
I had some great things selected. I paid for them, finally, after about an hour's time, only to find my credit card was denied. I was FURIOUS and frustrated. It was payday and for that ONE DAY, my bank account was full. Yeah, most of the time I run on empty in it. I have often even gone over. But on payday, before I pay any bills, I KNOW there is money there. To have my credit card (debit card = directly out of my checking account) denied was embarrassing, and there was no reason for it. Thankfully, I did have my checkbook with me, and I wrote a check. I REALLY wanted my rooster placemats bargain, by that point!! (Hmmm, I DID just say it wasn't about acquiring stuff, didn't ? But I DO love a bargain...)
So after writing the check, I go back to the truck. I call my daughter, whose debit card account is linked to mine, and had her check my balance. All was well. No reason for it to be denied. Grrr. Then, while I'm sitting there with the truck running, I give more thought to the red light that is on. I call my husband to ask about it, thinking that perhaps I've forgotten a step in getting it to go off. Nope. "Check the book" he says. HE is on his way home from three days in NYC. I check the book, and basically it said, "If the light is on, and your pedal goes all the way to the floor, DON"T DRIVE IT. There's a problem! A significant and serious one."
OK, so... it's been a cold and snowy and crappy day. And I am now "stranded" in a parking lot an hour and a half from home, with no way to get there. So, I did what any reasonable person would do, after an accumulation of stress - I cried. No, I bawled. I sobbed. I called my sister, I called my husband, my brother called me after my sister called him, my son called me back after my husband called him - the motorhead in our family - to ask him about the light/brakes. All of them said STOP CRYING! CALM DOWN! I guess it WAS a bit of an overreaction. My sister said she would come get me. My husband was just at a point where he could go another 30 miles home, or turn North and go 45 miles and come pick me up. My brother offered to call his friend who has a tow truck. And my 17 year old son begged me to stop crying and think about how much he loved me. And all I could do was feel bad, SO bad, that I was inconveniencing my sister, who interrupted HER decompression drinking a glass or two of wine, drove back to sit with me for ten minutes til my husband got there, and feel so frustrated that instead of just taking charge, and figuring out what to do, I cried. I hate feeling like a helpless female. Sometimes cars and their problems make me feel that way, and I HATE that feeling. I am NOT a helpless female. I am NOT prone to crying, at all, ever, and certainly not over small potatoes like those. But, I wasn't crying for that, and I am smart enough to know that all of the sobbing in that snowy, cold parking lot was really for a lot more than that. It's for all that my dad has lost. It's for all that has changed so suddenly in the past few weeks, it's for all the worry and love and fear and frustrations I have for my dad. But, sometimes it takes something stupid to be the straw that breaks the camel's back, and I guess yesterday, that was it.
I bet some days are like that, "even in Australia."