PHOTO: Pete Barringer In New Orleans, second from right
If you’ve been reading for the past few months then you know that I had to beg a few weeks off from Design Crush in late December and early January. To explain why I have to go back to before I was born.
I grew up living at one end of a row house, at the other end lived a lovely older couple named Pete and Betty Barringer. They quickly took our young family under their wing, Pete teaching me to hit a whiffle ball and Betty letting me play school with her. And soon enough enough they were just like an extra set of grandparents. In fact one year I made them come to my biological grandparents’ house with us for Thanksgiving! Then when I was 15 my parents’ marriage ended and my mom got engaged to their son, Bill. He was recently divorced as well and everything just clicked. So now my “extra” grandparents were becoming my step-grandparents. Not too bad of a deal.
This past December an existing health condition of Betty’s worsened drastically and very suddenly, she passed away January 1, 2012. But that’s only the half of it, because Pete has Alzheimer’s. After the funeral he had to move back to Oklahoma City with my mom and stepdad for the obvious reasons, and my days are now spent watching over him for the time being. He’s not so far a long as to be in a home, but he’s not able to remember enough to care for himself or be left alone either. We’re sort of in the in between right now, and it’s hard knowing it’s only going to get worse.
I won’t lie, some days are really tough. Especially the ones where he talks about going home and you have to explain that this is home now. But other than that there are some great times, too. I get to hear about his time spent as a soldier in World War II and so many other stories I never would have had the opportunity to know. We all really try to laugh, otherwise everyone might breakdown and cry. I know if the tables were turned he’d do the exact same thing for me in a heartbeat.
Have you ever had to take care of a relative when their health failed him? I’d love to hear any words of wisdom or advice you might have.