• The Circle of Life.

 The cast:

  • Me, of course, and Richard and Malaika
  • Richard’s parents Matt and Shirley
  • Richard’s brother Robert and his wife Bonnie
  • Robert and Bonnie’s daughter Bobette and her husband Mike

I had planned on a quiet Christmas at home. Things were crazy and I was behind in all preparations. After Messiah weekend, I was going to relax. Then after Christmas I was looking forward to attending a couple of parties. That abruptly changed about 10 days before Christmas

Richard wanted to go see his parents, which was okay. I just didn’t want to go at Christmas; I wanted to go after. But Richard wouldn’t budge, unusual behavior for him. Shirley has had demintia for the last seven years and Matt is her caregiver. Bonnie was glad we were going out and asked me to do an assessment. She had heard some things from Mike that worried her. Since I had clients we decided to leave Christmas Eve day.

We were on the road by 7 am and the driving was good until we got west of the Eisenhower tunnel, but we made good time and got to Utah, just south of Provo, by about 4:30 pm and settled in.

After a little down time we went to Bobette’s for Christmas Eve. When we got back, everybody hurried into the warm house. I held the door for Matt, who was at the bottom of the steps (about 5). He told me to go ahead. At the time I didn’t think anything of it. I knew he was slowing down and I thought he didn’t want me to let the cold air in the house.

Christmas morning, Matt and Shirley slept in and we went to Bobette’s for Christmas morning festivities and breakfast. When things quited down, we talked with Mike and Bobette about how Matt and Shirley were doing. The information relayed to us was alarming. When we got back to Matt and Shirley’s, close to 1 pm, they had just gotten up. A few hours later we went back to Bobette’s for Christmas dinner. When Matt was handed this presents, he insisted they had been with everyone in the morning, and he didn’t remember I had told him that great- granddaughter Elissa had managed to get to Portland. Both Richard and I were astonished.

After a great evening we all went home. My internal alarms went off when Matt had to hold on to the kitchen counters and catch his breath after climbing those 5 steps up to the house. This was real trouble. Richard and I had a long talk about the situation with his parents and agreed we need to talk with Matt in the morning.

Being a worry-wart sometimes I can’t sleep. Thankfully there are such things a brand new portable DVD players to keep me entertained for a few hours until it’s light. So what does a girl do when it’s light and she’s tired of watching movies on the DVD player? She shovels the 10 inches of snow that fell overnight, of course. Richard joined me after about an hour and after two hours my hands and feet were cold so I went in the house for some tea. And Matt was already up and sitting at the table. What a perfect opportunity to talk. So, being the Evil Daughter-in-law I brought up everything from how capable Shirley was taking care of herself, our concerns about Matt’s health, to their financial situation. This girl was not going to leave any stone unturned! Richard and I even pushed him to make a doctor’s appointment. And it was a good thing too!

We headed home on Saturday, reassured that Matt’s doctors appointment was Monday and that Bobette would go with him. At about 6:30 pm on Monday we got a worried call from Bobette telling us Matt had to go to the hospital immediately for a blood transfusion. His red blood cell count was 0.5. So Richard turned right back around and headed to Utah with Robert.

So what is the moral of the story? Now the children are the parents. It’s a circle of life thing. Our parents raise us, care for us, drop everything for us when needed. And now we are doing the same. The doctors don’t know what’s wrong and are doing more tests as I’m typing this. And Richard and Robert are there, as they should be. I am so glad and relieved that Richard followed his instincts and stood his ground about going out over Christmas. I am so glad we had the talk with Bobette and Mike, getting more information. And I’m glad that Matt feels comfortable enough with his Evil Daughter- in-law to talk and tell the truth. So have those difficult conversations with your parents; find out about finances, about wills, about power of attorney. It’s okay and your parents will appreciate it. I don’t know what is going to happen, but I do know that life has come full circle and the child has become the parent.

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