Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A time for updates

First I have to apologize in advance (mostly to myself) for what may be some infrequent posting in the next month, since as is often the case with us, several time-consuming events are converging: (a) the school year ending for two kids, meaning tons of family-teacher picnics and concerts and whatnot; (b) enrolling both kids in a new school; (c) packing up a house we've lived in for two years; and (d) moving into a swell new house on -- yes, it's official -- June 19, 2007. Plus coping with Ben's mother, although this has actually gotten a lot less time-consuming since moved into assisted living. We spend more time visiting her than when she lived in New Jersey, but less time worrying about her and (in Ben's case) spending hours on the phone with caregivers.

On that front, everything is going quite well. Everyone who has called or visited G. has commented on how much happier and engaged she seems than when she was home alone. They have lots of activities and her being a very social person, is blooming. Plus she met a MA-yun. Though I think he may be gay, but who cares. On the day we dropped her off, the staff introduced her to a couple of other residents. One woman, a retired professor, answered questions sensibly but wasn't exactly chatty or outgoing, and further down the table another woman was doing that slack-jawed-old-person-napping-in-place thing, which is always depressing to see, if you ask me, even though there have been many, many meetings where I had to fight a powerful urge to assume that attitude. It was after this little encounter that G. basically said she was not staying, and I really couldn't blame her. I didn't know how the hell we were going to extricate ourselves until the director brought in another resident for her to meet. Much to my relief, this guy B. was on top of his game -- witty, charming and seemingly unimpaired. She was immediately drawn into conversation after the director explained that B. was a devotee of Chekhov. Leaning forward toward G. at the table, he said with mock gravitas, "Yes, and once you read Chekhov, you never recover." They're quite inseparable. Now she just needs to realize that this is where she lives now. Her concept of time is shot, but she certainly remembers her home and keeps saying she has to get back there, since she still believes this is a temporary visit. Although for the first week or so, she thought she was at an academic conference she's attended every spring for the last 20 years and has known B. half her life. On the other hand, she hasn't freaked out about the details of this lengthy sojourn like someone with their full faculties would -- for example, what's happening to my bills and other mail, when exactly am I leaving, where is the neurologist to whom I can prove I don't have Alzheimer's, etc. So at some level perhaps she understands, though it will become clearer to her soon when we get more of her stuff sent to her. She packed for only a week or so, and the staff has asked us to get her more clothes as well as toiletries.

On the house front, it's finally seeming real now that we've hired a mover and set a date -- sort of like a wedding, I guess. I'm actually looking forward to throwing out a lot of crap that's accumulated, though not to the packing and unpacking, but that's a finite thing. The house itself looks awesome -- most of the flooring is in, the faucets are installed, the lights work... all that's needed inside is carpeting for the bedrooms, kitchen appliances, slate for the front hall and a bit of carpentry around the stair landing. It's weird; I'm excited but only superficially, if that makes any sense. I'm excited about the idea of the house, but I don't feel that tangible excitement or perhaps contentment of actually living in it -- making meals, watching TV, yelling at the kids, going to sleep in our bedroom... Right now, even though we designed it and I've been there dozens of times, it still feels like someone else's house. I need to see our pictures on the walls and the kids' crap scattered all over the place.

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