March 2014 –
Tuesdays with Terry really began in October of 2009. The previous spring my wife and I traveled to Florida to bring her parents back to their home in Michigan for the last time after 25 years of “snowbirding” to their condo on the Gulf Coast. Mom was getting concerned about Dad’s driving, and by routing them via plane to South Carolina they could visit their granddaughter’s home once before we picked them up there for the rest of the return trip.
Dad muddled through driving during the summer, but doctors determined in October that he should not be behind the wheel anymore. However, they still needed to run errands on Saturday, get to church on Sunday, and visit their friends at the mall – at least once a week. Dad still tried to walk at least two miles a day at the mall or in his neighborhood, and “the group” at the mall included some golfing buddies of his – he tried to golf at least once a week and at 85 he could still “shoot his age” or better. Hence my new assignment: chauffeur.
Since I was working from home it seemed best if I gave up Tuesday mornings to spend time with Mom and Dad including breakfast at McDonalds, meeting the group and walking at the mall, and an occasional lunch at Taco Bell or Arby’s. Our Tuesdays became a time of telling family stories, following the “best friends” approach to dementia care, regular walking for me, and trying to figure out how to eat healthy at fast food places. It also was a time for covert monitoring of Mom and Dad’s health.
Information gleaned from Tuesdays with Terry provided clues my wife and I needed to assess the necessity to manage her parents’ affairs and step in when the time was right. Family time on Saturdays and Sundays further filled our need to monitor and support Mom and Dad. The addition of Thursday night family dinners out with Mom and Dad, and our son and his wife, ensured there was no long gap during the week when a family member was not in touch with them.
And so began Tuesdays with Terry, so aptly named by Mom, and completion of “the sandwich”. My wife and I became official members of the sandwich generation, supporting her parents and our son and his wife as they began their careers.
Tuesdays with Terry got a little smaller when Dad passed away in April of 2012; it was just Mom and me. During this first year without Dad I watched her become more frail and felt her hang on my arm a little more each week. After a beautiful Christmas morning together came the medical emergency that would change her life, leaving her with needs my wife and I could no longer fill. After putting off the decision to move to an independent living center for several months, that choice was removed from the list of options, and assisted living was the only affordable game in town. In January 2013 she moved to a place about a mile from our house. Then our daughter and grandchildren came to visit during the course of their move to the west coast. That visit is done, and I face Tuesdays alone with my computer.
And so Tuesdays with Terry, the blog, begins… Pops