When my dad's health declined, he could no longer take care of himself or help with my mother. My niece, Billie, and her husband, Glen, opened their home to my parents, providing them a safe and loving place to live. In the doing, Billie became Super Girl to my Wonder Woman and together we are able to care for my parents as a family.
I’m so blessed to have a caregiver warrior, who not only provides a home to my parents, but who loves them unconditionally and is proactive in their care.
As I know this is so often not the case, I wanted to take the time to thank her for being the main-caregiver in such a gracious, loving, and healthy way. Billie and Glen had to rearrange both their home and their work schedules to accommodate my parents, as well as their daily-life schedule. Billie and Glen are also parents to a very active little boy, adding additional time and activity challenges to their routine.
Together, they are an amazing palliative-care team!
One of the secrets to our success, other than Billie and her family’s devotion to my parents, is our constant communication. We discuss everything. We laugh together or over the phone, cry together and share everything.
Our text and voice conversations would make for a funny, intense, sitcom. We even laugh and cry over the things my parents say.
Not long ago, my dad stopped eating. We had no idea why. He’s never been a big man, so physically, this was alarming. He went from 150 pounds to 112 pounds within a few weeks, just as the COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders started. At that time, we had both him and my mother to provide care for. Mommy was in the beginning stages of dementia, and also had some physical deficits, after suffering a few strokes.
And then the day came when I got a phone call from Billie.
“Denise there is something really bad wrong with mamaw”. Mommy had suffered another major stroke, and had to be careflighted from home to The University of Kentucky Hospital, where she was admitted into the ICU.
Due to COVID-19, I was the only one allowed to stay with her.
When Billie called I’d jumped into my Jeep and headed to the hospital. I didn’t take time to pack an overnight bag, I just left and headed for the hospital as fast as I could.
The outlook was grim and we didn’t know if my mom would live through it.
Billie and Glen sat in 90℉ weather, in a hospital parking garage, along with my dad, their two-year-old son and my two brothers. They waited there until they moved Mommy from the emergency area to the Intensive Care Unit.
The next day, Billie checked on me, asking how we were doing. I told her I was walking to the hospital gift shop to buy a clean tee-shirt.
She immediately came to my rescue by heading to Walmart and shopping for toiletries, clothes and snacks for me. Then, she drove an hour, with a two-year-old and my dad, to bring them to me at the hospital.
I was stuck in lockdown, at the hospital, for two weeks. During that time, Billie frequently showed up to pass food and snacks to me, via the hospital staff, ensuring I had food I liked.
Mommy was later transferred to a rehab facility. She was there for another two-weeks. Billie helped me get everything put together that mom needed. At that point, we realized that Mommy needed more care than we were capable of providing at home.
Since then, Daddy continues to live with Billie and her family. I visit most weekends. When I’m not there, Billie takes my dad to the care facility where Mommy lives. For many months, we could only visit her via standing near her window and talk via telephone, or visit her with video-chat from her tablet.
Now, we can sit outside with her for visits as long as we maintain social distancing, per Kentucky governor’s orders.
Without Billie’s help I would be overwhelmed in trying to provide the care my parents need. She has not only helped with hands-on care, but also with compiling essential documents that assure my parents are receiving the medical care they need and the financial help they receive to cover medical expenses.
Your Auntie D