Sometimes in life, a sudden situation, a moment in time, alters your whole life, forever changes the road ahead.
— Ahmad Ardalan
It’s that time again, where I reflect on the past year and ponder a new one.
For 2022, I had these specific goals in mind:
- Visit two more states with the family (visited one, but the year isn’t over yet)
- Partially finish our basement (not done)
- Re-stain our deck (not done)
- Write and self-publish a book (not done)
- Read 10 books (not done)
- Go to three concerts (completed)
Normally, I might beat myself up over not getting most of my list done. I’m giving myself a pass this year, and the following outlines why I think that’s quite OK.
In short, it was a very hard year. Because of this, I’m going to split this into two parts.
The Long Goodbye
My dad has Alzheimer’s Disease. He was diagnosed in 2021, and the family worked through his gradual decline that year. Last December, we went to his house — the house I grew up in — to spend Christmas with him. He was living on his own but had assistance time to time from my sister (who lives close to him), and the holiday visit went pretty well.
Within a month, everything changed.
Dad caught covid in late January, which we later learned can exacerbate conditions for dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease patients. He quickly went downhill after that. His mental decline was such that he couldn’t live alone anymore, so he stayed with my sister and her family for a couple of months until we could figure out next steps.
I was making trips just about every weekend to help give my sister a break from taking care of him. At three hours each way, those were some long weekends. It was heartbreaking, in addition to being mentally and physically exhausting.
In March, we moved him to assisted living. He made it three months until he needed to be moved again to memory care. His mental state degraded so fast his doctor said, “I’ve never seen anything like this before.”
Memory care is pretty much the last stop, unless he ends up going to a nursing home (which is certainly still a possibility).
We sold the remaining 99 percent of his possessions, and then sold his home in June to help pay for his care. Pardon me for being selfish, but a lot was taken away within six months. My dad is so different now that it feels like he’s no longer here. The childhood home where I lived from birth until 20 years old, in addition to the place my children knew as “grandma and grandpa’s house” was in the hands of new owners. My connection to southeast Kansas, once another part of my existence, became deeply severed.
It’s funny that as I write this, I realize I haven’t really processed some of the events of this year. The first six months of the year was such a whirlwind, it really was a lot to deal with.
There was always a warmth I had “going home,” and after mom died in 2018, visiting dad at the house offered a little bit of a connection to her life. It wasn’t the same, of course, but being in that house would bring back wonderful memories. It was certainly tough to remove dad from the home and put him in assisted living. But it was equally rough to say goodbye to a life and history that had been part of my life for so long.
And as a cherry on top, my last remaining grandmother Opal, died on Oct 4, 2022. She was dad’s mom, and because of his condition, he couldn’t attend her funeral (and barely understood that she had passed).
So yeah, kind of a few bummers here and there. Sounds like 2022 really sucked, huh?
Well … not exactly.
In Part Two, I’ll talk about how the bad of this year led to some interesting opportunities.