Parental Journal 64 from Planet Elderly – Packing for the Next Trip: Dad’s 94th Birthday

Saturday, June 25, 2016  evening

Tomorrow I head back up to Grayslake to spend some time with Mom and visit Dad.  This is expected to be a short visit.  Dad turns 94 July 1, so we’ll celebrate a bit with him and other “Sunshine Wing” residents.  Last year we ordered a cake and brought it after lunch so as not to ruin anyone’s lunch.

Ninety-four.  I tear up thinking about it.  Each time I visit him now I get a bit emotional.

Victor Anthony Leogrande became my stepdad when I was 7.  Thanks to him, my life turned out much better than it would have.  Thanks to him, I was able to go to college.  Plus I adored his parents and have wonderful memories of summers in Syracuse, weekends at the lake house by Oneida Lake, and tons of homemade Italian food.

So when I see Dad now, I am flooded with wonderful memories and a great deal of sadness to see his life as he lives it now.  I feel sad.  When I ask him how he feels, he often says, “Great!”  or  “Just fine!”   Must be nice to continually live in the moment.

Dad Jan 25 2016

Mom called this afternoon wondering if I was arriving today.  “I’m coming tomorrow, Mom.”  Then she sort of giggled…said she wasn’t sure if she saw Dad today, but if not, she was too tired to go visit him now.

She talked about not having any money and that she hadn’t been to the grocery store.  I told her not to worry; I was bringing some stuff and maybe we could go out for Chinese.  I also reminded her of the money situation she keeps forgetting.  Not much response.  She seems stuck in her younger years when she had so little.  She needs constant coaching to realize she has funds to buy what she needs.

Another complaint she had was getting “all this mail asking for money.”  She reads every piece of mail and often spends extra time on the ones appealing for money to help children.  “I just can’t afford to give to all of them.  Once in a while I do because I feel sorry for them.  But you know what?  Nobody helped me when I needed help and I didn’t have enough food for us.”

It’s a monologue I hear frequently.  I just listen.  It’s what’s on her mind, and once she winds down, I assure her that we all get that kind of mail.  There are lots of people and organizations in need.  She can donate or she can pitch it.  Most of the time she says, “I’ll shred it.  It has my address on it.”   She likes to shred.

Rain is expected tomorrow, so I’ll just take my time as usual and listen to some favorite CDs and NPR when I can pick it up.  Years ago I’d have to drive through deserts of country music and southern preachers, but nowadays, NPR is fairly easy to pick up most of the way.  Praise Jesus!

I’m just about all packed.  Will take the printer again.  Cantaloupes, a watermelon, green onions and celery that I don’t want to go bad in the fridge…some apples, creamer for my coffee…cheddar cheese and some crackers…cashews for on the road…wine for whenever.  Need to pick up some yogurt and hummus.

As we ended our phone call today, Mom kept saying, “Something doesn’t feel right.  I’m just so tired.  I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

I don’t know what’s going to happen either…except that we’ll hold tight to each fairly normal minute we have together…because the future, well, it’s going to get pretty darn messy.

Broken hearts make big messes.



About jjmummert

Just another voice in the wilderness from someone who's lived on this planet for over 70 years and faces permanent residency on Planet Elderly. Update: As of March 2, 2017, I turned 70. I'm now an official resident of Planet Elderly. Dad passed away September 22, 2016. In late March 2017 I was able to move Mom closer to me where she resided at a memory care assisted living community until being downsized to a skilled nursing senior community in October 2018 in Columbia, Missouri. I view the Parental Journal entries as part therapy, part family history, sort of a case study of our family's journey with dementia. It's quite an adventure. Recommended readings for others who have loved ones who live with some form of dementia: The 36-Hour Day; the website: ;
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