Christmas was different this year. We were missing two people on Christmas Day... my Dad and Nana. We usually go around the circle opening presents but the circle was a little smaller this year although it was still full of love and laughter.
We didn't bring Dad down to Fallbrook for Christmas because we knew it would upset him to see his old home-town. I can just imagine him saying, "oh, this is where I live." He's made so much progress in Whittier that there is no reason to disturb his peaceful setting. Another reason we didn't bring him down is just because he is a lot to handle. It's full-time baby-sitting and it's just too much for us to do during the busy holidays. It sounds bad, but it's the truth and he was perfectly happy to stay where he was. It's not like he knew it was Christmas Day or anything.
We brought him his presents on the 23rd. These presents included underwear, pajamas, a photo book from the past year, and my Mom and Papa. Dad loves seeing me and Megan, but he most definitely loves to see other family members and began to cry when Megan told him who was coming to see him. We opened presents and then went out to lunch. We had a fabulous time.
I know I've mentioned how great Whittier Place is, but Papa reinforced that notion once he got the tour. He reads every blog I write, and was still so impressed when he saw Dad's home in person. The hallways are so wide and bright, the rooms are very spacious, the staff is so sweet and friendly, and the garden is gorgeous.
As I look back at this past year, I'm nostalgic and relieved. We miss Nana so much, but we are keeping her memory alive in every family event while creating new memories with Papa and the family that is still with us. I want to take a quick moment for those of you who don't know about Nana... she is my Mom's Mom. Nana and Papa are honestly just as much of a parent as my Dad is if not more. Since we really don't have close relatives on Dad's side, Nana and Papa were a focal point in our lives and my Dad's life. They treated him with love, care, and respect as they would any other family member. The day that Nana died (right before I started writing the blog... which she would have LOVED by the way since she read every word we ever wrote in school), all I wanted to do was get to Arizona to be with Papa, but we had to take Dad to get his the stitches taken out. Who wants to do that when your Nana has just passed away? He had run away a week before that and had acquired stitches from his adventure. With my sunglasses on, tissue in hand, it was all I could do to get Dad to the Doctors (luckily Blake drove me). Alzheimer's doesn't wait for anyone, doesn't care what your priorities are, and definitely doesn't consider what other life-changing events might be going on in your life at any given moment. It was so difficult to explain to Dad why I was upset... he just didn't get it.
As for Dad, I think we can all say we're relieved that he has finally settled in at Whittier Place. Honestly, I can't think too much more into the future as far as Dad's situation goes, because the disease is unpredictable. So, we're thankful that more than ever, he is at home and is very happy. When once he used to yell at the other residents or ignore them, he now greets them and chats with them. We would dread leaving through the locked gate because he would try to leave with us, but now he walks us to the door, says goodbye, and goes on his way. Relief. What a fabulous feeling. Dad was home for Christmas... Home at Whittier Place Senior Living.
On another note, we are still battling the hospital bills. The VA finally contacted to say that they will only pay $435.00 out of $8000.00 of Dad's hospital bills. Really? Wow, thanks so much, that helps immensely. :/ Now I will have to appeal AGAIN. I understand that the VA doesn't assist every veteran with their hospital bills, but Dad matched every criteria for this assistance, so there's no reason why they shouldn't pay a little more. Dad only has about $20,000 to his name and it's dwindling fast, so there's no way he is paying for this out of pocket. No Way.
If and when the New Year brings more challenges, I can say that Megan and I are as prepared as we'll ever be for them! Bring it on Alzheimer's. We survived last year, so give us your best shot!