Sunday, 16 January 2022

The Unexpected Sleepover(s)

Remember how I mentioned in my last post that there was another snowstorm coming that night?

When I went to deliver my mother's pills, on impulse I asked if she wanted to spend the night at my house in case the power went off. She said yes.


I didn't actually think she would leave her home, because she's always been very independent and determined to stay alone. I'm not sure it's always been the best decision, especially since her thinking and logic has deteriorated, but it's always been the choice she has made, and I can't force her to leave her house.

But this time I think she must have been a little bit worried herself. 

So we threw some clothes and things in a bag and prepared for a one-night sleepover.

By the next evening, there was another 5 cm of snow in the forecast, it was still windy, we had already lost power once, and so we agreed she should stay another night, as the following day (today) was predicted to be cold but sunny and calm without further snowfall.

Now, my house has stairs to the basement and stairs to the upstairs bedrooms, but there is no handrail at all on one set of stairs and only a partial handrail on the other. This is something I plan on changing at some point but it wasn't going to be soon enough for this visit.

Because of the handrail situation, I thought it would be safest to keep Mom on the main floor in case she lost her bearings in the middle of the night while looking for the bathroom. She was quite happy to bunk on the couch, as she often sleeps on her own couch during the daytime when she naps.

However, I wanted to be close by, especially as I realized when she got here that she was very disoriented and couldn't find her way around the main floor at all. So I alternated between trying to get comfortable on the love seat in the living room with a fifteen pound cat lying on me, and sleeping on the floor, which was not that bad once I realized I needed three foam pads, not one, to lie on. (Side note: the cat had zero interest in being anywhere near me when I was sleeping on the floor with plenty of room for her beside me.)

I didn't get much sleep the first night because I kept listening for my mom to wake up. 

By the second night I was so tired I slept better but was still awake a couple of times to help her navigate the route to the bathroom.

This morning she was getting impatient to be home. Although my wonderful neighbour had cleared most of my lane with his snowblower, I still had to finish digging out my vehicle, shovel out the end of the lane where the snowplow had pushed snow and ice into it, clean the snow off my vehicle, get it warmed up (and one lock thawed out), and hope like anything that my tires weren't frozen in place, because it sure looked like they were. It was -19C, by the way.

When I went out to shovel, Mom was busy finding her jacket and hat and so on. I told her it would take me a while and not to get her outerwear on until I came back inside and told her it was time. She put it all on anyway and sat fully dressed in winter clothing for two hours even when I came inside to rest and told her it was still not time to leave. 

When we got to her house ... eventually ... her wonderful neighbour had cleared her lane but the end was snowed in by the snowplow, so her other wonderful neighbour and I shovelled that out too. 

And when I got home I shovelled the spot where my vehicle had been because the snow had drifted underneath it.

May I just say how completely tired I am of snow, and winter, and living alone, and living with my mother, and how eternally grateful I am for my neighbours, her neighbours, and the fact that there is no significant snow in the immediate forecast. It is, however, supposed to rain.

It's going to take me all week to recover. Not to mention finding my skates so I can navigate the mess that 40 cm of snow followed by rain is going to make. (For those who may not have had this unique experience, rain on snow makes ICE.)

Shall we pass some time with snow funnies? 

We shall.



Regular cat tracks on right; fat cat track on left





Mike said...

From my Saturday jokes...
In Canada, friends with benefits means a neighbor with a snowblower.

dinthebeast said...

When we moved into Beth's house in Rohnert Park, there wasn't a handrail on one side of the stairs, which for me was the descending side. I just sort of leaned on the wall going downstairs for a couple of weeks, until one day I fell when I was halfway down them. Beth put up a handrail the next day.
Zsuzs has put handrails on the fence going up the side of the house so I can go around back to get into the upstairs part of the house, but I still have to go down the outside, metal, spiral staircase to get down, so I don't go up there very much. She also put one on some metal fenceposts at the top of the trail that leads to our door that make navigating it much easier for me, especially in the snow.
Ah, the snow. I'm a from-the-coast kinda guy, and haven't had much snow to deal with in my life until now. Zsuzs knows all about it, and dug the Subaru out before the snow turned to ice, so we have access to the stores and such down in Oakhurst. Our car is still underneath about four feet of it, although Briana has dug down to the back of it to retrieve some things from the trunk. It isn't going anywhere any time soon.
Well, all in all it sounds like your mom did OK on her overnight adventure. Are you able to get back and forth to her house to give her her medicine? I get spooked driving on the ice, and I was a truck driver for fifteen years.
Our cat is appalled that not only is there snow and ice all over the place outside, but we simply refuse to do anything about it for him...

-Doug in Sugar Pine

Andrew said...

You seem to be receiving so much snow but little is falling in the centre of your country. Poor Bert. How humiliating.

I thought your mother story may have ended in a nightmare by her saying, I quite like living here with you. I might just stay a week...or two.

Elephant's Child said...

Oh dear friend. You must be exhausted. And shattered. I am so grateful that you had at least some help.
And thank you (so much) for the funnies which made my grumpy self smile broadly.

jenny_o said...

Mike: Indeed, I did benefit :)

Doug: Poor kitty; I don't understand your lack of action either :D It sounds like you're well and truly snowed in, until, I'm guessing maybe May? I'm so glad you have people around you who help you be the most mobile you can be. And yes, I can get back and forth to my mom's in most winter weather. I am using my husband's all-wheel drive. The only issue is my street, which is actually a court which has is only used by the houses on it, so it's not a priority for snow clearing. Oh, and my lane, which I'm attempting to hire someone to clear for me but haven't yet succeeded. I don't like driving on ice either, although I have done it. Black ice is just as bad as ice and it's the thing I most fear because it looks like wet pavement until you hit it and then it's too late. Snow doesn't bother me after fifty years of driving in it, some of it so bad I wanted to kiss the ground when I got home safely.

Andrew: The reason we get so much snow is because most storms come up the eastern seaboard of the US, picking up moisture from the Atlantic Ocean all along the way; Nova Scotia is the first bit of major land they reach. Sometimes we get storms coming from mid-Canada but they aren't as bad. And your comment about Mom was very close to what happened; she wouldn't live here yet, although I suspect it's only a matter of time before that happens, especially if the alternative is a nursing home, but she said several times that I should just move in with her. Ha ha. I'm not really laughing, except in that desperate, shaky, horrified way that I'm sure you are familiar with from having a similar mother.

EC: I'm pretty tired, but as you said, thank goodness for kind neighbours to help me. I am in the process of finding someone to hire to do the snow removal but haven't heard from the person who was going to give me a number to call, and having been sick I hadn't felt much like calling them to get it. I'll have to get right on that this week. I'm glad to have given you a smile and hope whatever is making you feel bad goes straight to heck, pronto.

Joanne Noragon said...

I had no handrail on the upstairs side. Mom pushed my dad up and held his held down. I had to put one up to sell the house.

jenny_o said...

Joanne: I hadn't thought of the resale repercussions. Another good reason to put a handrail up. Your mom sounds like she was a dedicated partner to your dad.

messymimi said...

The worst time of a child's life has to be when the parent's mind is going and the parent doesn't admit it and you can't get a court to give you authority to take care of them.

You are both in my thoughts and prayers.

Thanks for the funnies, and i do hope you have no more major snows to get you stuck.

kylie said...

I know I couldn't shovel snow, I can barely balance to just walk so I maybe have to stop whining about Sydney's heat!!

I'm so glad your Mom decided to stay, it was hard work but more tangible than the worry about how she might be getting on in a storm.

That dog with the oven mitt!!

Red said...

You took on a huge challenge and succeeded. We can do more than we think sometimes.

River said...

I don't understand WHY stairs are built without hand rails. That's a huge risk hazard and should be illegal. I don't know anyone here who has stairs and no railing.
I am surprised that your Mum agreed to come home with you, and glad she did, also glad she went home again. Two days is about all I could take with my mum too, although we lived in different states and her visits were always a week long.
Interesting about the cat not wanting to sleep on the floor with you. Perhaps you could make the floor your permanent bed?

Charlotte (MotherOwl) said...

You're a hero! I have not much to say but Wow. I hope your mother will learn to accept outside help.

gz said...

You did well, although that was a lot of work!
Thanks be for caring neighbours too

Marie Smith said...

I can understand your lack of sleep that first night, listening for your mother. It must have been an exhausting few days! Have a good rest! No snow in the forecast will be helpful!

Steve Reed said...

You deserve kudos for both your generosity with your mother and your patience with the snow! I have never lived in a climate that cold and snowy (not with a car, anyway) and I can't imagine how challenging it must be. Winter will not last forever!

Susan Kane said...

Suddenly, snow that is funny! Grew up in snow, left snow. I so agree that snowflakes can gang up on you.

Joan (Devon) said...

Snow is nice for a change of scene, but after two or three days it is also nice to see it go. We haven't had any snow yet this winter and I hope I haven't spoken too soon. Fingers crossed.

At least for two days your mind was at rest regarding your mother, knowing she was safe and comfortable and I expect she loved the company.

Take care Jenny, don't take risks in the snow.

John M said...

You're right, an added benefit of Winter: no mosquitoes.

37paddington said...

You are a good daughter. Oh my, minus 19 degrees. Brrr.

Martha said...

I'm glad you were both okay! Spring won't come soon enough for me. Tired of winter and snow and the cold!

Mary said...

You're a good woman, Jenny_o! But I feel for you. Exhaustion is not fun when so many other things need to be tackled. Looking at more snow here this week (ugh--and I don't have a difficult mom to worry about). Had 38cm and 26 hour power outage last week; then the snow/rain/high winds/thunderstorm this weekend from the storm that dumped on you (I'm down by the Chesapeake Bay). Let's hope neither of us get more from this upcoming track. Take care and stay safe. xo

jenny_o said...

Mimi: Thank you. I keep thinking you must have had a similar experience because you keep nailing the exact thing that's the problem here. I feel both morally and legally responsible for taking care of my mother but the system is set up to require such a high bar for proof of her incompetence and without a family doctor we can't easily access help even if she meets that bar. In fairness, I feel she is at a stage where she is still okay in some ways but not in others, so I don't even know where the line should be drawn. I think I am getting the message from the geriatric doctor that her safety is the biggest issue, but even there, I can see little safety issues and big safety issues. And I fear that the big safety issues will not be clear until something has actually happened to her. Up to that point I don't know if it's morally right to take away her independence; after that point it may be like shutting the barn door after the horse has escaped. A very hard decision to make, even if we had access to a family doctor to help us make it.

kylie: I love that photo too :) As for snow versus heat, trust me, I cope with the cold and snow better than with the heat. I don't know how you manage in a region that's so much hotter than ours. And you're right about Mom. As hard as it was at times to have her here, at least I knew she was safe. I don't know how long I could keep up the constant vigilance, though.

Red: I can get through a lot if I know it's not going to last too long. I don't know if I could manage Mom"s care on a longer-term basis, and it worries me that it may come to that, given the lack of nursing home care here.

River: Our house was built 34 years ago so maybe handrail requirements are different now for new builds. Hopefully I'll be able to get a carpenter soon to do that here. It's always a comfort to hear I'm not the only one with difficulty getting along with my mother :)

Charlotte: I don't think she will so I'm not expecting her to! Maybe she will surprise me :)

gz: Without good neighbours I could not have managed over the last year and my mother could not have managed over the last five years. I'm trying to find ways to give back and I think I have the answer. Maybe for a future post!

Marie: I'm all rested up now, despite more hiccoughs in the weather and Mom's behavior! Posts to follow :)

Steve: Yep. Winter will go away and then I'll complain about the heat and humidity. lol

Susan: It's easier to laugh AFTER the snow shovelling is done (for the moment) :D

Joan: I think you're right, my mother enjoyed the change of scenery. Unfortunately, she forgets so quickly that I don't think it helped her feelings of isolation very much. But I do see her every evening, and that is the best I can do.

John: Yes! Mosquitoes are a nuisance in their own way!

37p: As long as you're dressed for the weather, it's okay :)

Martha: You and me both :D

Mary: Oh my - it sounds much worse where you are! Those long power outages are not just inconvenient but dangerous. You stay safe too.

Mr. Shife said...

Thank the fat bassets for wonderful neighbors. I am glad they were able to help you out, jenny-o. Our snow was finally starting to melt when Mother Nature decided we needed a quick blizzard to remind us that it is still winter. Hope you get a break from the snow and ice. Take care and stay safe.

jenny_o said...

Mr. Shife: I love your reference to bassets every single time you use it! lol Your weather sounds like ours. You take care too.

DB Stewart said...

What @Mike said, lol.

Hang in there. And the neighbours obviously want to help, so seek them out.

baili said...

this story seemed to have two villains one your mother and second snow dear Jenny sorry for calling your dear mom villain ,it was my silly attempt to make my sentence sound funny :)

but still there were two heroes one you and other your neighbors :)

i bet i will not have to shovel next morning after such intense snowfall because i certainly will already be dead because of cold minus 19 is not for me i am very mush sure about it :)

tiredness works like sleeping pill sometime i agree .
hugs and blessings!

jenny_o said...

DB: I don't want to take advantage of the neighbours. This is the second winter I've needed help and I really should have some other arrangements made by now, but I just haven't found anyone yet to do it. Still working on it!

baili: Your comment made me smile! I'm sure you'd adapt to our weather because the secret is just to dress properly! If I didn't have warm clothes, boots, hat, scarf, etc. I'd freeze too :) Hugs, my friend.