Argh. Groan. Ulhhhh. That’s how I feel when I look back to my ten day holiday travel extravaganza.
You know how sometimes when you worry about something only to have it be just as difficult as you imagined? Yea. That.
(I’m gonna ATTEMPT to make this trip recap as interesting and comical as possible but you know, some stuff is serious.)
First off the travel, oh my gosh, the traveling. 5 days of being in the car for 8 hours is no joke. In fact, it’s quite miserable. Your butt gets sore, your husband won’t stop coughing, you feel so bad for your dog you want to cry, and thought of McDonald’s makes you sick (a tragedy in itself). I sure as hell didn’t see that coming! False. I did, I just thought I’d handle it better.
The transitioning of Grandpa F to an Alzheimer’s nursing home was indeed the most painful part of our normally happy holiday season. Since he’d only been there a week, it was pretty fresh and unfamiliar for everyone, including Grandma J. It was also weird navigating how much time he could last with us outside the home versus how much time we were going to spend celebrating there with him.
We ended up visiting his nursing home multiple times and it all hit us pretty hard initially. It’s one thing to know something’s happening in the back of your mind, it’s another to see your strong role model grandfather walking around disoriented in an adult playroom next to other people who have no clue what’s going on at any moment. We all were in tears or uncomfortable with our emotions at some point over the trip.
Grandma J was mostly non-functional and her three children really stepped up to the plate, cooking, cleaning, organizing, running errands, and managing Christmas. The Mother was AMAZING, she went a week early and was a total rock for her mother. I felt like since my mom was being so strong for her mom, I should do the same but I doubt I was as good at it as her. Everyone was a little bit on edge and Grandma J was grieving a different loss than what she grieved when the disease first took him. This time it was losing her physical partner and coming to terms with what it means to really live alone. She was also battling the guilt of, “Did I do the right thing?” Yes, yes she did. Being a care-taker is an exhausting task mentally and physically, and she did it for almost four years.
Since The Sister and a couple of my cousins were missing on Christmas eve, it just felt like an “off-year” in general. Auntie B and I kept things light by shouting, “Balk Tradition,” and “It’s a year of change!” Because everything did feel different and new. This is hard for a family that’s done the same thing for over 30 years. But Christmas won’t always be in Bismarck and not everyone will make it home every year and people will get older and traditions will change.
Additionally, everyone, and I mean EVERYONE was sick, and I was constantly playing a game of dodging coughs and sneezes and hugs and handshakes when I could. (shudder)
On our drive back to Kansas I called my Grandma to ask how she’s doing and she sounded great! She was going to my Aunt’s house for a NYE party and had plans to visit Grandpa at the home that afternoon. Then she proceeded to tell me she thinks that when he says he wants to go home it’s because he wants to go to heaven. He’s done with this earthly life. Cue me crying again. Isn’t that the sweetest/saddest thing you’ve ever heard!?!
Our night back in MN was spent in urgent care getting The Scottish meds for his epic cough, turns out he has bronchitis. FUN. Then it was off to Chicago, exhausted but pumped. The first day and a half were grand and it as so good to hold my nanny kiddos and spend some time with my former bosses, as well as visit our good friends whom we miss terribly.
But then I got sick. Like food poisoning or stomach flu sick. Up all night to the toilet, BOTH ENDS sick. The next day I literally laid in bed with nausea and the chills, unable to sit up straight let alone do anything with anyone. We had to cancel a small pizza party we had planned with friends and poor Littlest C and Big C were so sweet to check on me a lot. They played with McKenna and The Scottish spent time with the family but I felt so damn robbed. I only get a few days with them every four or five months, why did one of them have to be spent miserable in bed?
By the time we left on Monday December 30th, I was so ready for my own bed. Definitely a trip for the record books in that it was pretty UN jolly and super NOT festive. The Scottish even made me count all the GOOD things that happened and all the people I got to see, but I was too busy whining to get really into it.
That said, if I saw you at all over my break, family or friend, it was a highlight for me. Thank you.
And don’t ever expect us to plan another trip like this AGAIN.
How was your holiday season? Anyone else battling the plague or new family dynamics?
I leave you with Littlest C in McKenna’s crate. Adorbs.