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We’ve gone south for the winter!

I’m pretty sure this makes us snowbirds.

Unfortunately we didn’t quite go far enough south and it is COLD. Especially in the little house we rented with zero insulation and a heater/air conditioner window unit. The unit blows out cold air only. In order to warm up the house we have to turn on the range (electric), crack the door open, and turn on a burner or two. Then the heater/air conditioner thingy blows the hot air from the oven around a little bit. We usually end up with a toasty warm kitchen, a warmish living room, a not very warm bedroom and a quite chilly bathroom. We also have a small room off the bedroom that we use as a closet (it’s supposed to be a bedroom but is super small) that you could hang meat in. It is that cold. We keep that door shut and only go in there when fully clothed with a coat on.

We came down here in October to help out my parents. My dad’s had health issues for the past several years. 2015 was quite rough for him. We were down here for three weeks in March to help after he fell. My mom has been my dad’s caregiver and they were doing okay. Until my mom got an infection in her leg, a very bad one that almost ended up with needing to remove her leg. She was in the hospital/rehab for a month. When she was discharged she could barely care for herself and couldn’t care for my dad also.

We were very happy we could come down to help out. Since I work from home my job is portable. Joe had retired from his job over the summer and was working on our cabin (it’s still not done). The older girls are all adults and we homeschool our little guy. There wasn’t any reason we couldn’t leave Wyoming for a bit to come down here.

My dad’s health has rapidly declined and he is now to the point of needing 24 hour care. Shortly after Christmas we found out he also has dementia that is likely Alzheimer’s. My mom’s leg has healed but we found out her lungs are compromised (she has smoker’s lungs and has never smoked a cigarette) and a few other issues.

A few weeks ago dad’s physician recommended an assisted living center. Since my parents wish to stay together they both moved into a very nice place. They have a small studio apartment, all of their meals, someone monitors their meds, helps my dad shower and provides the care he needs. There is a doctor that comes in every week. I’m so please that we were able to find such a beautiful and safe place for them.

Our little guy was so excited the first time he went to visit grandma and grandpa in their new home. He ran in and said “You live in a hotel! With a restaurant! I want to live here with you.”

Quite honestly, my mom isn’t as excited about it as her grandson is. 😉 She is doing her best to make the best of it but does grieve losing her independence.

My two sister’s and brother all live down here and will be available to visit and help my parents as needed. We toyed with moving them up to Wyoming with us but with three children here it made more sense to keep them near the bulk of the family.

During the last few months I’ve learned a lot about myself while caring for my parents. At times, it’s been a challenge. For a couple of weeks my parents had some intense counseling and, peripherally, so did I (and my siblings). The counselor suggested that I should read a book on codependency, Codependent No More. I have to say, it’s been hard reading! I hate to admit seeing myself in the writing. I suspect I have a long journey ahead. Another book that is on my reading list is A Bittersweet Season: Caring for Our Aging Parents–and Ourselves. Taking care of ourselves is hard to remember!  I may write more about both of these things in the future.

We’ll be here for about two more weeks while we finish getting things organized. We rented a storage unit for the bulk of their things. We’ll be back in the spring to empty the storage unit out. We figure by then my parents will know better what all they want in their apartment. They have been married almost 47 years and have lots of memorabilia. Many of these items are heirlooms that we will need to divide up among children and grandchildren.

When we leave here we will be going down to Texas to visit friends, from there we’ll head to California to see family then up to Oregon. I need to work in Oregon the last week of February. We decided taking a nice, slow trip to Oregon is just what we need. The last several months have been rather stressful and we need a little recuperation time. Plus we figure there is no reason to hurry back to Wyoming in the dead of winter to a cabin that doesn’t yet have the heat installed. Brrrrrr. That would make this little rental house seem like a sauna.


Snowbird photo courtesy of Photographer Rawich

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