Misery Has Company

Part of our Florida trip was designed to include visits with my husband’s sister. Upbeat and funny, my sister-in-law (SIL) has always been one of my favorite people. Bob and I thought bringing Mom to her place on the west coast for a few days would be uplifting and a good time for everyone. We were assured we were all more than welcome.

Bob had driven down and stopped at his sister’s house first for a couple of days while I worked with Mom on her apartment across the state. He reported having a good time, but when he got to Mom’s place on the east coast that Wednesday afternoon, he indicated to me there was trouble in paradise. But he was certain that we’d all have a nice time at the lovely house on the water where my in-laws now resided. The weather forecast was terrific. They have a pontoon boat on the lake behind their house. I was looking forward to respite from the sad tasks at Mom’s co-op. We could all use it.

Bob, Mom and I drove west across Alligator Alley on Friday and were greeted warmly. My SIL had decorated the place and was proud to show it off. She gave her bedroom with the king-sized bed and lake view to Bob and me for the night. Mom was given her own room. We all went out on the boat (Bob, Mom, the in-laws, their two dogs and another visiting friend of theirs), returned to have a nice meal out on the lanai, told stories, traded some laughs and turned in for the night.

Saturday morning, Bob left for NJ so he could be back north in time to pick us up at Newark Liberty Airport Monday evening. We said our good-byes and off he went.

As the day progressed, it became painfully clear that my in-laws were in deep trouble. You could cut the tension with a knife. My brother-in-law (BIL) got wasted and my SIL retreated to her computer games. Mom and I were left to our own devices in an unfamiliar area with no one to talk to and nowhere to go. I wished Mom and I had just gotten in the car with Bob. But it was way too late. He was already in Georgia.

I checked the airline schedule to see if we could leave Sunday instead of Monday evening. Sure we could, but for a $500 penalty. I spoke to Bob when he got to his evening rest stop. He was mortified to hear what we were going through. He encouraged us to leave. I changed our flight to 4:25 Sunday. I even arranged for a cab to the airport. Escape was in sight.

Sunday morning, after a fitful, sleepless night, assuring Mom that she would be safe, I got up and made coffee and toast for us. My SIL finally looked up from her computer to say “Good morning” and I told her we were leaving. My BIL, who was sleeping on the couch, heard me and asked why we were leaving so soon.

I blurted out that we were extremely uncomfortable and felt very unwelcome. We needed to leave as soon as possible.

My SIL offered to take us to the airport and I accepted. My BIL got dressed and said he was going to work and wished us a good trip home.

We got to the airport right around noon, checked in, got Mom a wheelchair and had a nice meal close to our departure gate. With hours to kill, I apologized to Mom for all the aggravation and for having to sit around for so long. It was certainly more comfortable at the airport than it was back at the house of pain.

To make things extra fun, our flight was significantly delayed. We didn’t take off until 7 pm. The airline provided meal vouchers, warning us to stay close to the gate, so we had another nice meal at the same restaurant.

Bob was way too tired following his marathon drive to meet us at the airport, so I arranged for a limo to pick us up and take us back to Ringwood. Another $100 gone.

We landed around 9:40. A wheelchair was waiting for Mom and a limo was waiting for us outside. The driver was very kind, the ride home was uneventful and Bob was there to meet us.

Life just never turns out the way you think it will. I’m thankful there are people you can hire to make up for those who let you down, and for having the resources to take advantage of those services. Our goal of giving Mom some happy memories was not achieved, but considering everything else we accomplished, the trip was mostly a success. And we were all especially grateful to be back at our beautiful home in the woods.


About traceysl

Digital Artist, creative technologist, problem-solving lover of life. Having cared for my mother, who died on April 14, 2015 after a long fight with dementia, I have refocused professionally to helping others through my experience. I have started a company called Grand Family Planning to provide unique Family Support Services. In this way, I share my knowledge and give meaning to the tragic turn of my parents' journey through the misery of dementia.
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