Location: Oregon, United States

Friday, June 18, 2010

Staycation/Being with the Entire Family

We just finished about a week of Staycation with my entire family in town. This is not a large group of people, but sometimes formidable nonetheless. Honestly, I wasn't sure how it would go. William graduated on Saturday, which is a really big deal not because he struggled academically (which he didn't) but because he struggled, period. Life with Asperger's is not easy to navigate, and as life gets more complex with time, it becomes even more difficult to find one's way through each day. When he was first accurately diagnosed in 5th grade, we had our doubts about whether or not we would make it through middle school - not joking. It was HORRIBLE. But William is figuring it out and at the same time managing to get decent grades and graduate. How cool! So my family decided to come out and honor the achievement with their presence, which is also very cool.

My folks generally stay in a hotel when they come to town. This is what we do. We honor one another's private space and time and we go home when we need a break. This works fairly well, except that they usually leave just when I am finally able to sit down for a minute and relax, so there is no opportunity to really talk. Sometimes I wonder if this is the whole point. We have some serious things to talk about - like what do we do with Mom now that she's started wandering? Dad wants her to keep living at their place - is this safe? What are our options? These conversations didn't happen. We were too busy. I won't see them again until December at the earliest - then what conversations will we need to be having?

My sister, her husband and child decided NOT to stay at the hotel, saying they wanted to camp in our back yard. It has been raining all winter, with a particularly amazing rainfall a few days before they arrived that flooded the area where we would normally place a tent. It has also been unseasonably cold, with record low-highs on Tuesday and Wednesday. Primo camping weather. Instead, we blew up the air mattress and stuck it in the family room. This was the wild card factor, and it had the potential for disaster or greatness depending on everyone's mood. We got greatness - hanging out after the day was done, playing board games, and talking about things that needed to be said. My nephew hardly spoke to his parents the entire time he was here, listening to William talk about Pokemon like a disciple at his master's feet, playing with the dog, and running around with Stephen. We thoroughly enjoyed all of them.

On Wednesday, previously noted as a record cold day for June, which also included a steady rain all morning, a bunch of us went fishing. I am choosing to assume the surfer's mentality for this event - "No bad days". We got up at 5 a.m. to arrive at the dock by 6:30. It was crappy weather, I had to pee for the first four hours even though I had clearly emptied my bladder prior to getting on the boat, I was freezing, and we didn't have a nibble. But we were on the water, which is better than any other day at home or the office. After a brief bathroom break and a change of rigs, we went out again and fished for sturgeon between a shipyard that smelled of slime and welding and a paper plant that was spewing steam and god-only-knows what else into the air and water. Mmmm. Kinda glad none of them were keepers. But the rain had quit and I was warm. Still better than home or office.

Mom is slowly losing her mind to Alzheimer's. She knows all of us, but cannot keep track of what we are doing at any given point in time. Her face is fixed in a constant expression of concentration as she tries to make sense of everything going on around her. She woke up each morning at the hotel not knowing where she was. She is in the constant motion phase already. My sister tries to make her stop - a futile endeavor. I try to channel her energies - yes, you can dry the dishes even though I normally air dry them. Then I will put away everything so the job is "done" even though I'd rather be playing or talking or spending time with everyone. It is like redirecting a river - you cannot stop it from flowing, but maybe you can gently guide it. Or maybe it's more like being on the river in a kayak, looking out for rocks , whirlpools and waterfalls and guiding the kayak safely through or around them - not always successfully. Saying goodbye to her frankly sucked. They were all packed up and we had time to eat at my favorite local restaurant. After the meal, we stood on the sidewalk and I said, "Okay, this is it! I love you! Bye!" And she had forgotten. She looked at me like I had slapped her and said, "What?!! What do you mean?" And I had to explain it to her. How awful. I get weepy with goodbyes anyway - everyone that knows me knows this - but this? Ugh. Not cool.

They've been gone for less than 24 hours and I'm frankly bored. Three whole days before I go back to work. The problem with a staycation is that work is physically right around the corner, which makes it more difficult to psychologically unplug from it. Just before I left, one fellow was quite ill and suicidal - this is something I've gotten used to before leaving on vacation, just par for the course - but still hard to just walk away from it. I've been checking my email periodically and skimming the ones that seem important. There are way too many to process in a timely manner when I get back and it's so tempting to dive right back in. I have things to do here, like cleaning up and putting away all the things that got taken out. Woo. Thrill me. It is times like this that I am thankful for my job - it is fun, meaningful, and always interesting. I am also thankful for the time with my family, which was nearly perfect. I am working on being grateful for the next three days even if I am bored stiff. Hopefully, the boredom will give way to enlightenment as I process things that normally don't make it to the front burner of my brain.


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