Days 36 & 37: Family Support

October 8-9, 2002
Forest City
No Miles  No Map

While my parents were obviously glad to see me, there weren’t many questions about my five week journey. It was not something they could relate to. While I was on my ride, my mother’s main concern was having a rescue plan in place in the event something catastrophic happened to me. And though dad had been tracking my progress with notations on his Rand-McNally map, once I’d safely arrived his focus quickly turned to the Major Fall Project: raking and burning the millions of leaves soon to be falling from the mini forest in the front yard.

We did at least go out for a celebratory dinner once I’d unpacked the bike and got myself cleaned up, but since then it has been like all my other rather mundane visits of recent years. I have taken up my usual duties as chef and errand boy, spending one afternoon making a crockpot full of chili (something I’d been hankering for). I also did some of the driving when dad went to the V.A. Hospital down in Des Moines. Afterwards we made a stop at the world famous Prairie Meadows Racetrack to play the slot machines, a kind of family tradition whenever we are in the capital city. I had my usual miserable luck, but any lingering annoyance was soon erased by the warm glow of my completed bike adventure.

The reason for dad’s visit to the V.A. are the memory troubles that have become noticeable the past few years (both he and mom are in their early seventies). He often loses the thread of conversations and cannot recall recent events. The family is concerned this might signal the onset of Alzheimer’s, but there’s no way of testing for it outside of an autopsy. The V.A.’s initial prognosis, pending the blood work, is that there’s nothing wrong with him; he just needs to be eating more. Not sure how confident I am in that.

Our parents’ home care is a worry as well. About a decade ago, only a few months after dad’s early retirement, mom developed problems with the nerves in one of her feet (neuropathy) that forced her to start using a cain. Her mobility has continued to decline and it’s now a real effort just to get around the house. Any serious cooking is too much and with dad not knowing his way around the kitchen, they are eating a lot of less-than-healthy processed foods along with Meals On Wheels.

Obviously both of them are going to be needing more specialized help. It’s just a question of how soon.

    Today:     None — Two Rest Days 
    To Date:  1,748 Miles / 2,813 Kilometers

Special Note: In less than five years, both my parents would be dead. My mother from a heart attack and Type 2 Diabetes, and dad from dementia complications probably coupled with the grief over his wife’s passing. 

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