Monday, November 11, 2013

Searching for a new "Normal"

It’s been a little over a month since Mom passed away, and I find myself floundering in my search for a new normal.  Her passing has left a large hole in my life and routines.  Someone asked me what I was doing before, and I had to think back a very long way to even begin to figure that out.  I suppose this is something akin to empty nest syndrome.  Chris had moved out, but Meredith was still living with us on and off when Mom first came to stay.  She lived with us for almost 7 years of the 10 years before she went to assisted living.  Even after the move to assisted living, my life was still mom-centric. 

From the beginning, I tried to make Mom an integral part of my smaller family unit.  I wanted her to feel that this was her home as much as ours, and made sure she was included in all the functions we hosted or attended.  Everything I did, barring attending a few sci-fi conventions, was done with an eye to Mom and making sure she was included.  We went to lunch on Saturdays and we shopped.  When Forest and I were still performing as Sabbatical, Mom came with me to the performances.  When we weren’t performing, she came with me to wineries to listen to others.  Sometimes we’d stop at Your Vine or Mine for a Panini and a glass of wine.  A picture of the two of us graces the photo collage in The Vine’s foyer.  We went to Captains’ games, both as family outings and as part of work events where bringing family was encouraged.  One of my fondest memories is taking Mom to the Vatican exhibit at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

As time passed, she started to decline those opportunities, and I started to decline those invitations so that she wasn’t sitting at home alone feeling left out.  When Mom moved to assisted living, I visited a couple times a week and we continued our Saturday lunch outings.  Then her health took a turn for the worse, and her condition made it difficult for me to take her out and about.  She needed more supervision than the regular-level assisted living provided, and her dementia was progressing, so they moved her into the memory unit.  I knew she felt trapped there, so I increased my visits to as many times a week as I could, stopping after work most days and for a couple hours on weekend days. 

I'm now heading home after work, but three times this month I have found myself halfway to Emeritus before realizing that I was driving there by rote.  Then again, when I have to shop, I find myself avoiding Sam’s Club because it makes me sad when I have to drive by Emeritus to get there.

I am making a spreadsheet of what I want and need to do with my life and my time going forward.  There is no going back.  I need to create a new normal, even if I tend to be far from normal by most people’s standards.  Though, with the holidays coming at me like a speeding freight train, even my best intentions might be derailed.  We will see.  The calendar is filling up with a lot of events and obligations that in no way resemble the creation of a new normal.
  • Sunday afternoons are filled with Messiah rehearsals until the December 8th concert. 
  • Meredith needs help selling jewelry on Saturdays between now and Christmas.
  • I am slated to make stuffing for 80-100 people for the annual Boy Scout Turkey dinner, coming up this weekend.
  • Meredith, Gary and the kids are coming for Thanksgiving dinner
  • We’re hosting 25-28 (Jim’s side) the day after Thanksgiving for a huge pot luck. 
  • And then, Christmas will be upon us and I’ve done zero gift shopping. 
My only accomplishment to date was making the Christmas wine early in September and getting it bottled up in mid-October.

I guess I’ll keep working on that spreadsheet and plan on not implementing any changes to the status quo before January 1, 2014!