One Year Ago Today

One year ago today I took my ex-husband out of a skilled nursing facility and back to his house. I’d spent the the previous week scouring the kitchen and bathrooms, sweeping floors, vacuuming rugs and trying my damndest to make the place habitable. I bought an adjustable bed for downstairs and had his TV set up so he could watch it from the bed. I never was able to eradicate the dog odor, but you got used to it after a while. I’d also hired a woman off Craig’s List as a live-in caregiver. [Never hire anyone off Craig’s List. It may be great for prostitution but definitely not caregiving.]

I had brought over some clothes and toiletries for myself. I’d be moving back into the house I’d left to him six years earlier. I’d bought a couple of cheap but comfortable beds for upstairs, one for me and one for the “caregiver” who lasted all of four weeks before (Thank God!) she left, taking my new frying pan with her. I had thought I was only staying for three months — the amount of time I’d taken off from work. Those three months turned into eight of the most grueling and saddest months of my life.

Watching my ex-husband — and my friend — dwindle away pound by pound, skill by skill, memory by memory was excruciating. So often it seemed like he wasn’t trying to get better, and yet he wasn’t giving up either. We’d bring in physical therapists and he’d be so proud when they managed to get him to stand for two or three minutes. But the stroke had wreaked havoc in his brain and he simply wouldn’t do the exercises unless they were there to help him.

The biggest problem was his fluctuating blood pressure. When it got too low, which would be considered normal for anyone else, his eyes would roll back in his head and he’d pass out and vomit. This is no way to live, I thought and sometimes even said aloud. But his spirit wasn’t ready to go. Not till the very end, till those last few days in the hospital, when he agreed to take the morphine and slip out of our grasp.

Today I took his dog to the vet for his rabies shot. I explained that Grendal was my dog now, and no they wouldn’t be getting permission for the transfer from his previous owner. It was a done deal.

I didn’t want two dogs. I didn’t want an 85-pound black lab who sheds profusely in addition to my oh-so-perfect little dog. But I have him now. And I’m okay with it.

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