This picture of my friend Ellen and me has nothing to do with the post. It was taken today on the Billy Goat Trail in Great Falls, and I post it here to prove that I am getting out and doing things and not wallowing in self-pity. Also, it gives me the opportunity to publicly declare my love for Ellen.
Josh and I have been living with my 91 year old father-in-law, Aaron, for 4 months now.
Because my mother-in-law died, and we thought we could help fill the void or at least make sure that he's eating real food.
Aaron thinks we are living with him to save money. That was basically the only way we could convince him to let us move in.
When people ask how it's going, or say, "Wow, that must be really hard," we always say, "Nah, it's not that hard. We like it. Blah blah blah Positive Sunshine-y Phrases."
Because we don't want to be all, "Yeah, it was really hard to pack up our entire life and put it in storage and move in to someone else's house, which has hideous window treatments and furniture that makes me shudder, yeah it kind of sucks sometimes and we really really really miss our old life. But we're so selfless and wonderful we did it anyway. Commence with the praise."
We don't want to be Negative Nellies. Plus, it was our choice.
But just between you and me?
It's not exactly a piece of cake.
It's harder for Josh than for me, I think, maybe because Aaron feels free to be cranky with Josh but will maintain a certain level of decorum with me.
I don't know how to explain the difficult parts of living with a grieving 91-year-old man. I suppose you can figure it out. He's lonely, even when we're here. And he's set in his ways and can't figure out why, for example, we would have the audacity to leave our mail on the desk in the living room for 2 days at a time. ("That mail could be important! You need to read it to see what it's about! Take it upstairs and do something with it!" Subtext = What the hell is wrong with you people??)
He is fond of saying to us, "I don't understand how you people operate!" This is usually uttered after he asks Josh what we are having for dinner that night and Josh says, "I don't know. I guess one of us will pick up stuff for a stirfry on the way home." Which was how we always did things before. Casually. We have learned that we need to post a menu for the week ahead to avoid the "I don't understand how you people operate."
He doesn't have a social life because his friends are all dead.
His world revolved around 1 person, and we are a poor substitute for her.
Josh has to cope with his dad by himself a lot, without my comforting presence, because I am over at my own parents' house checking in on them.
We retreat upstairs at night to watch TV in our own room, partly because we can't stand to watch the news for 2 hours straight (which is what Aaron does), and partly because we need to cocoon together a little bit and try to hold on to the way things were.
We're not sorry that we moved in. It was the right thing to do. And Aaron is sweet most of the time. I love him.
But it's not a piece of a cake. In case anyone thought it was.