I was conspicuously absent from the blog last week because we were in Kansas. Obviously this antique postcard of Main Street was taken about 1960 but really, the view isn't that different today. The cars are newer, some of the business names have changed and the theater has closed even though the sign is still there. Sometimes when we drive the streets of this town where both Wayne and I grew up, I think time has stood still.
But, of course, it hasn't. It's a fact that is painfully obvious when in the presence of my father-in-law.
Wayne's dad is just a few months younger than my dad, and he'll celebrate his 90th birthday this fall. An interesting bit of trivia is that my mom and dad and Wayne's mom and dad were all in the same high school graduating class. Both of our mothers are gone now (mine in 1993, Wayne's in 2010) but we're blessed to still have our fathers.
April has not been kind to my father-in-law who does not enjoy the same state of good health my dad does. At the beginning of the month he was comfortable ensconced in his little senior apartment, and while he had chronic health issues, he was living semi-independently. His "girl Friday" (as he called her) came to do light housekeeping, shop for groceries and help with some meal preparation but he was getting by on his own.
In the span of just over a week, the bottom fell out. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He developed a particularly nasty case of the shingles covering a substantial part of his right side. And then he fell, breaking a vertebra in his back. It's a slippery slope those health issues in the elderly. One minute they're navigating the road just fine; the next they're in the ditch.
He's in a nursing home now on a 60-day rehab status. And he's very angry. Angry that the medical authorities wouldn't let him go home. Angry that his body is failing him. And angry that he's lost control over so many of the decisions affecting his daily life. He's pretty much a loner so the idea that he has to live his days among strangers is particularly reprehensible.
Along with Wayne's younger brother and sister-in-law, we spent our days in El Dorado shuffling between medical tests, doctor appointments and time at the nursing home. His other health problems severely limit what treatment options he has so the goal now is the relieve the pain and make him as comfortable as possible.
Leaving to return to Florida was hard. If you've had a parent in a similar situation, you know what a difficult journey this is. And if you haven't, I can tell you that you just do the best you can. Can my father-in-law turn this around and make enough progress in rehab to return home? It seems impossible but he's a stubborn man. I wouldn't count him out just yet.
Our suitcases are in the closet for now but we know they won't stay there for long. This journey still has a long way to go.