Monday, July 16, 2012

Grandma Update and a New Job for Papa Rooster

Between swimming lessons, appointments, friends visiting, summer projects and I don't know what all--where do the days go?--I haven't been to visit Grandma in a couple of weeks. Papa Rooster tells me that she's slowing down, sleeping more and talking so softly that she's hard to hear. She's still able to eat a few ounces of food every day and not losing much weight, but she's completely bedridden now.

In my last update, I said that my father-in-law would be interviewing live-in caregivers in hopes of bringing her home, with hospice. However, his options are narrowing as his bank account empties, and weighing all possibilities, it seems clear to us all that the best thing for them to do is to move in with us at the end of this month. Now that she's no longer needing to be transferred in and out of bed, the caregiver isn't neccessary, as long as there is someone around to help him turn her on her side so that he can change her a couple times a day. He can attend to all her personal care with this minimal amount of help, and we have multiple people here who are strong enough for that task.

We'll probably put her hospital bed in our "schoolroom," which was intended to be a formal dining room by the builder of our house, but which we have filled with bookshelves, a computer desk, a regular desk and a small table (these last two pieces can easily be moved out for now). We'll hang drapes in the doorways to this room for privacy when she needs it. No one thinks she'll mind the noise and activity of our family--she'll probably sleep through it regularly.  She also may wake up more often, with her grandchildren around!  We are hopeful that this arrangement will give my father-in-law some much-needed rest as well. It will also be easier on my brother-in-law's family, since they already drive up here from Chicago most Sundays for church, and it will save him another 3 hours of driving each week.

At the same time, we will have another big change in our family--Papa Rooster starts a new job on August 1. His new employer will be a former colleague who started his own company a couple years ago. It's been very successful, and Papa R will be his new sales department. It's basically the same type of sales and consulting that he's been doing, related to employee benefits and coverage, government rebates, pricing, Medicaid and other variables in data related to the health care industry.  It's so complicated and different for each sale that there is no simple way to explain it.  An acquaintance asked me recently what my husband does; he said he'd asked B13 but he wasn't very clear. After I did my best, the friend said, "Okay, no wonder your son couldn't explain!"

Anyway, we are excited about the new job because it will be less travel, and his office will be at home. He's excited about the environment of a small company too, with an involved owner--rather than an investment group that just wants to see profits every month without knowing or caring about the challenges and opportunities of the current economic climate.

It's also worked out that between phasing out of his old job and stacking all his vacation and personal days at the end, he's basically getting the month of July off. So we've been spending more time together than we have in months, and that has been great. Not only have we been catching up on long-delayed projects and discussions, but we've also been very intentionally rebuilding and re-establishing our connection to each other, which has been badly disrupted with him traveling 3-4 days every week and both of us functioning more and more independently over the past several years. It's been really good, and we are looking forward to a little overnight trip together next week!

And how do I feel about my in-laws moving in? It feels right to me. It's so hard to drive for nearly 3 hours round trip to visit them, but we want to be with them often, and they need us. I'm sure there will be challenges, but the ones I can anticipate seem like trivial details in the life-and-death scheme of things. It will be an experience for our children to have their grandmother die here in our home, and I worry a little about how that will affect them.  But it seems like a good and natural thing. Death has been part of the human experience for centuries, but we have become removed from it by extended life spans and the separation of extended family. I think previous generations must have valued life more highly because they had more experience with death. Papa R and I are noticing how the imminent loss of someone you love makes you more grateful for the time you have remaining with them--and with all your other loved ones--and this seems to me not a bad lesson for my children to experience firsthand. I am confident God will work it all together for good.

We are so thankful to everyone from our former church who has visited, brought them communion, prayed with them, sent cards, advised my father-in-law on decisions he's had to make, and prayed for them all these months. Some folks have been with them at that nursing home multiple times a week!  We are so grateful for your companionship and love for them, especially when we can not be there as often as we would like; it has been such a blessing to know that they are not lonely and alone when we're not there. You have truly been the hands and feet of Christ, and in a way, an extension of our love for them.  We can not adequately express our thanks.

And thank you to all who pray for us! We are feeling those prayers. God is doing lots of good work in our lives through all of this!

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