Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Letting Go ....
Over 35 years ago when I was a much younger hairdresser I acquired a wonderful patron. Through the years she has witnessed the birth of my two children as well as the death of my parents. She and her husband Pat nursed me through a painful divorce and when my children's own father didn't take the time to teach them to fish Pat took the time while we vacationed on Catalina Island to show them the thrill of fishing off the pier. In turn I have attended family gatherings at their house warmings, attended their 65 wedding anniversary, weddings, christenings etc.
About 6 months ago Dee asked if I would be able to come over twice a week to help them in their home with various tasks. I was happy to ... but it's been a bitter sweet experience. I have watched first hand as their 90 plus year old bodies have declined with age. In April their children made the painful decision to move them into an assisted living facility. I had made the move as well. I visit every month to color, cut and style Dee's hair as well as cut Pat's. I have noticed that with each visit they are a little more altered. Pat is blind and deaf, Dee is demented, deaf and angry. Angry at the fact she can't do what she once was able to acomplish. They were always extremely active playing tennis and golf and traveled the world extensively. Now they sit, listen to books on tape, eat small meals and nap their days away.
When I arrived this morning I was stunned. I entered their apartment to find Dee sitting in the living room half naked. She was attempting to get herself into the shower before I arrived. Both of her legs are wrapped in bandages to stop the oozing of fluids from her legs. She's feeble, can't walk and has trouble comprehending who I am. She has fallen twice and bumps and scars litter her forehead. I smile bravely and step in to make sense of what is going on.
Over the next few hours I manage to get her hair colored, cut and styled. We visit and she begins to remember who I am. My husband Joe has made the trip with me and senses my pain.
On the drive home I sat quiet and stared out the window. Remembering the "Kidd's" (Pat and Dee) when they were much younger and traveled, and chatted endlessly, asking about my children and family. Over the past 35 years these two wonderful people have become a part of my family. Another set of parents and grandparents. And now I have to face the reality that it's time for me to prepare to let them go. I imagine Dee will pass first as she continues to decline at a rapid pace. Her love and life companion Pat will be lost without her and I imagine he will be close behind. I write this with such a heavy heart just knowing I have witnessed the beginning of their end .....