My Dad often speaks about how his retirement isn’t going as he “envisioned.” While I’m not certain exactly what he thought his retirement years would entail—probably chock full of golf and travels and dining at restaurants—I do know that he never factored my mom into that vision. He never bothered to think about where she’d be while he golfed, and he probably thought that when he said, “Let’s travel!” she’d just hop on board (pun intended).
But then, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and life radically changed. While it’s only been a little over two years since that diagnosis, her decline has come more swiftly than we first anticipated. In the summer of 2015, she was still driving, albeit badly, and could speak relatively well. Laundry, cleaning, and cooking were still tasks that she could manage. Fast forward to today, and she cannot hold a conversation, read, or remember to take her pills, nor can she be relied upon to bath herself properly.
I’m not exactly sure what’s coming down the pike for her. I mean—I know how Alzheimer’s will manifest and I know she’s progressing through the stages at a pretty good clip, but how quickly will all of this really take? I’m not certain and of course, no one can tell us.
What I do know is that my mom didn’t envision retirement life like this, either. If she had her way, Dad would be out enjoying his freedom while she spent some time at home, alone. She wouldn’t be dependent on anyone for anything, and she’d still be toddling around the garden out back and perusing the books she often keeps in her purse. She’d remember her grandchildren’s names and faces. She’d remember who she is and was.
I’m thinking that it’s time for Dad to envision something a little different. Time to look at what is best for Mom—and that means getting her the professional care she needs—and quit lamenting about how life hasn’t turned out exactly like he expected it to. No one knows what life is going to bring, and complaining about it never did any good. Which means I might as well envision something different too, and try to quit hoping that my parents will behave in the way that I would like them to.