I have put off writing something in response to my visit to Houston, Tx. Partially due to laziness, and perhaps partially to allow more time for settling of experience… mostly laziness, I suspect.
I was there from May 10th – 17th, 2006.
About half of the reason I went was simply to have a vacation. It was a chaotic time at work for the prior 2 months and after working many 70 hour weeks in a row… it was time to do something else. On the vacation front, I was able to stay at my mom’s house and spend time on her huge deck. The deck is mostly ringed in by her pond. The pond is encircled by the shop (with a ping-pong porch), the barn, and a bricked patio where the potter’s wheel lives. I had a great time throwing several pots (and variations on pots), we were able to fire them, and then we made glazes and glazed (most of) them. During this time I had lots of great food (always important) and was able to spend some time with the tios locos and my grandfather… which segways us into the second half of the reason I went…
My grandmother has had Alzheimer’s for over ten years… for the last 5 or 6 of them she has been bed ridden. Wonderfully, she’s being taken care of by a family of care-givers who do a fantastic job, keeping her clean and eating and treating her like a person. Despite such wonderful care, the disease progresses. The final stages of Alzheimer’s often end when someone can no longer swallow and they starve. At some point in April she had two or three problems (including a possible stroke) which prompted a trip to the hospital. The trauma of going to (and being in) the hospital was hard on her and she stopped eating. My grandfather grabbed the helm and chose not to allow a feeding tube to be implanted (which I think we were all happy with, but must have been a hard call to make). Once she was back at the Padilla’s (the care-givers) she started eating again, but was still in significantly worse shape. Looking like the downhill slope had increased it’s grade, I wanted to be part of the family again. Something I feel like I don’t get to do much, being a 1200 miles away. I was able to see her a few times, and she varied from doing just as well as she was at Christmas, to having a hard time opening her eyes.
Basically, every time I have left her in the past 5 years or more, I’ve said goodbye. I feel like I’ve mourned her every time. The strangest part is that I get to see her again… usually, while visiting, something will light up in her eye or she will smile and I believe I’m seeing some of the person again, peeking through the disease. Those are the moments that keep her family coming back and what makes it so hard to say goodbye…. the belief that there is some of her left, somewhere in her head. It’s heart wrenching in every aspect.
And so, it was good (important) to see her again. It was good to say goodbye, again. It remains important to be part of the family, for the rest of the family, when she can finally rest… and so, I expect to travel back to Houston sometime, perhaps soon.