Last April, for Spring Break, we came to visit my mother-in-law and father-in-law. In fact, that’s where I found myself yesterday morning, in Ohio. We arrived Saturday night in time to watch the Reds score five runs in the fifth inning with my mother-in-law, then watch the Pirates tie it in the ninth, and win it in the eleventh inning with home runs by the same batter. The reds lost, but, I digress. I usually do, apologies.
It was an odd spring break, while most of our contemporaries were enjoying time away with their kids, B and I were dealing with end of life issues with her older sister and her father, my father-in-law. We still are. B’s sister passed away in April, and her dad passed away in June. We are reeling. While B has been driving back and forth to Ohio, I’ve had the kids. It’s easier for us because of our flexibility during the summer. I am relatively free.
I couldn’t have been more fortunate to have found the family I did – my in-laws are like second parents, like friends. Several years ago, I began joking with my mother-in-law that she was my favorite mother-in-law and she retorted that I was her favorite son-in-law. Every now and then I’ll start a conversation with, “you know, you are my favorite mother-in-law….” And she will respond in kind. We’ll howl and sip our coffee and talk about the day or what is happening, or just talk baseball. She’s a big Reds fan and part of the reason I pull for the Reds. As for the ‘favorite’ business – it is a no contest, as she and I are the only ones of each kind. I suppose it would be a tight contest if my brother-in-laws were still around. I lost one to divorce in ‘92 and I lost another when he passed away unexpectedly in ‘03 at the age of 52. Both were great men and treated me like a younger brother. I certainly could’ve used their support this spring and summer.
For Spring Break, we divided and conquered – B went to Ohio and I went to Michigan with the kids and the dog. We, the kids and I, went to Michigan to ski and relax while she went home to her parents to help her sister and her dad, as well as her mom. It’s a complicated story.
Regardless, her mom is still in her home and doing well. Her dad was dealing with dementia and steady decline in his physical capacities – he’d lost a lot of weight and was struggling to walk and get around, as well as dealing with balance issues. His decline began a few years ago in 2011 or 2012 and he began requiring daily assisted living care in the summer of 2012. It was difficult for all of us because until then, he’d lived a fairly vigorous life – gardening, working, playing, fishing, and just plain, living. My kids have many wonderful memories of grandpa up at the cottage or at Christmases or other visits.
Nevertheless, the kids and I arrived late Wednesday and it rained most of Thursday. We visited with grandma and we decided we needed to visit Grandpa. He was an hour away at Reid Hospital in Richmond, Indiana for a geriatric observation before placement to a permanent care facility. I used my phone to get directions and we set out. I just dialed in Reid Hospital.
Evening was setting in and it was a damp grey cool early spring day. We drove along narrow country roads to get there, my phone would give instructions – ‘turn left,’ ‘turn right,’ and finally, ‘in a quarter mile your destination is on your right.’ The hospital was shrouded in trees as we came around the backside, away from the main entrance. From the back, it looked like a hospital. We drove around the front and I stopped the car. It was a hospital or it had been a hospital, but, it certainly wasn’t a working hospital. It hadn’t hospital for a while. The front entrance was barricaded, but you could get around it. Chain link fences surrounded the property, but that hadn’t stopped people from getting inside. The buildings were still standing, but a few windows were broken, vegetation was overgrown, and the parking lot was filled with tall weeds. It looked like a scene from a movie set of what Earth might look like after humans have disappeared, or a picture from an abandoned town like Chernobyl. Whatever it was I knew grandpa wasn’t there. I rechecked my phone for directions and discovered there was another Reid Hospital up the road.
Once we there, we went in, signed and visited with grandpa. We had a nice visit with grandpa. He remembered us – you could see it in his eyes – but he didn’t greet us by name. We gave him the oatmeal cookies we brought for him and he hid them away in his chair so he could eat them later when he wanted. We talked, told him what we’d been up to, told him we loved him, but it was a short visit. He couldn’t handle much. I am glad we went. The kids and I would see him once more before he passed away.
Grandpa, like that first Reid Hospital I came across, had seen better days. I’ll remember him for his vigor, not his last years. The Reid Hospital we discovered had closed in 2008, when the new hospital opened. The old hospital was sold to a developer, but hard times hit. The old hospital has been left to nature and wandering gangs, and what you see in 2014, is what you get. It’s sad. I found a newspaper article about the old hospital – you can read more if you want. WTHR tour reveals former Richmond hospital in ruins
We all decline, we’ve all seen better days. But, I choose to look at life from a different perspective – my best days are yet to come. Today is going to be a great day, I know it and I can feel it. I am off to Beauty and Charm school, yes really. But, I digress, I usually do, apologies. Making the days Count, one day at a time, one relic, one new experience at a time.
What relic have you came across recently?
Today’s post is in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge – prompt – at Word Press. This week’s prompt is “Relic.” What images does “relic” conjure for you? A well-worn piece of blue beach glass, the faded pencil markings from a high-school journal, or the curmudgeonly character from the CBC television series, The Beachcombers? Share a photo of what “relic” means to you — it could be your still-running 1979 Honda Accord Hatchback, an historic building in your town, or an old, rusted farm implement poking up through the long grass in a field.
4 thoughts on “Weekly Photo Challenge – Relic”
It seems to be the worst of times: watching a once vigorous relative decline. I’m not sure whether the greater pain lies in one’s feelings for them, or fears for one’s own future. You’re right to focus on the future.
All the same… relic? That’s me! Too much gardening…..
It’s what he would want to do – yesterday was my mother-in-law’s birthday – I called her to wish her a happy birthday. It was early evening and when she picked up the phone she chuckled adn replied”I was afraid you weren’t going to call.” I replied, “How could I forget my favorite mother-in-law?” We laughed, she’s 87. She’s still sharp and with it, though she doesn’t get raound like she used to, but who does? We’ll be spending some time with her at the lake soon – I am looking forward to it. We’ll have a good time. Thanks – enjoy your gardening!
Oh man, I feel for you Clay. It is so hard to watch elderly family aging. Hang in there and remember your own words of advice – make every day count.
w/a Jansen Schmidt
thank you – it’s been the credo that has gotten me through all of this..as for the rest of the day, Beauty and Charm went well.. more later.