Hello, I’m Betty, Ertha and Henry’s daughter in law. Their son Anthony was my husband. He was killed overseas 10 years ago in the service and I‘ve been a single mother raising our son Ty ever since. Ty was only two years old when his dad passed away.
Early on, Ertha and Henry were able to help with him even though we don’t live near each other. But since their health issues, things have been an uphill battle. Currently Ertha is here with me in St. Louis because Henry has been in the hospital with his COPD getting worse. I’ve had to take time off work to take care of her because she can’t be left alone very long. She gets really confused and it’s just not safe for her to be alone sometimes. She keeps asking for Anthony too. Sometimes she calls Ty by Anthony’s name, which is touching and distressing at the same time. You can see the confusion in her eyes when it happens. Hard to watch anyone struggle like that. Easy to see she misses Anthony and heartwarming she sees him in Ty. I feel bad for both of them. Of course the surroundings here at my house are unfamiliar to Ertha, she is more comfortable in her own house. Guess you never really understand what “being at home” means until you see someone who is sick to a point where they lose some of their individual independence.
I’m finding that just taking Ty to school has become a chore, and I’ve had to cancel a few of his afterschool activities to, as much as I can, make sure Ertha is safe and okay. The only other time that I have to myself is at night so I haven’t been getting much sleep because when everyone else is at rest, that time is used for trying catching up on things. Never fully caught on anything but definitely get much more done when everyone’s in bed.
Ertha is also becoming very hard to deal with concerning her personal hygiene. It’s a constant battle to get her to take a shower or even brush her teeth. Her memory isn’t good when it comes to those things and she feels like I’m asking her to do the same things over and over. Sometimes it even causes us to bicker. I know I shouldn’t and it’s not right because it’s not her fault. Guess I’m human. Hard not to get frustrated…for both of us. I don’t attend church but I know Ertha misses it and Henry has been expressing his desire to go too. So hard to make things happen in both places. Ertha is missing her church groups and friends, a lot. I’m feeling terrible because my hands are so full.
I really miss my regular routine of working at the hospital and gardening. Also feeling sorry for Ty because we’ve spent so little time together. Hard to take him to the activities he enjoys and for a 12 year old, that is not easy. He should be socializing and hanging out with friends more often. Looking to the future is also frustrating and not easy to do. In an emotional sense, I know Ertha and Henry would be better to stay in Poplar Bluff to attend their church and be closer to each other and those kinds of things. But Poplar Bluff is somewhat limited when it comes to assisted living and care homes specific to their issues. It would not be good for either if they were separated, it would break their hearts. They still have a right to be together if it’s possible. Of course, St. Louis is also an option and I would be able to stay touch with them and keep our family together as much as possible. But again, provided they can be together and get the care they need, I think it would be better for them to be in their own environment. Wow, it seems every decision is almost a mountain with so few positives. Exhausted, frustrated and don’t always know the right things to do. I said that church is not on my radar but, good Lord, I wish there were some instructions or a manual for doing this. I know support groups are out there, but when am I supposed to fit them in? Not kidding.