After Richard's stroke in September 2011 (in fact it was three years ago today) I can remember feeling like I had lost my husband. I felt he had left me alone with three kids. Two were the grand-kids and the third was the one he had become. And, since I had to quit my job to take care of him, I also felt like I had lost half the income. Well, in fact I did lose half the income. I became the caretaker of the family. The caretaker of the home. The caretaker of the finances. The caretaker of everything.
I have worked with older adults for many years. I have seen how childlike they become. But when it was my own husband acting like that....it gave me pause. He had to have his way. And we let him. He was in charge of the TV remote and if someone would say something he would have a tantrum. It got to where he messed the TV up every time he had the remote so I managed the TV for him. It was funny at times. And at times, not so much. He totally became one of the kids. He would argue with them. Spar with them for my attention. Be upset and whiny when he didn't get what he thought he should have. Most of the time I could laugh about it. The kids accepted that part of him much better than I did.
One day, I had gone to the grocery store. I took Darian and left Harley home with Papa. That is usually how it worked. One would go with me and one would stay with him. This particular day I had finished my shopping and was in the check-out line when I received a call from Harley.
Harley: Grandma, Papa won't let go of my ponytail.
Grandma: What? Why?
Harley: I wouldn't give him the TV remote. Just like you told me. He started talking to me really low and I couldn't hear him so I leaned forward towards him and he grabbed my ponytail and won't let go.
Grandma: Oh for God's sake. I can't even go to the store. I'll be home soon. Give him the remote. (and I hung up on her)
In about 15 minutes I walked into the house and looked into the living room. And there was Harley, head in Papa's lap, and his fingers were firmly entwined in her ponytail. And he wasn't going to let go. I had to pry those fingers loose. And he was mad. And it wasn't his fault. He didn't do anything wrong. It was all her fault. See what I mean?