Nine months ago I left my job to be a full time caregiver for my hubby and his father. Hubby has Muscular Dystrophy and his father is 90. Most days I juggle the two of them fairly well.
Today, the father realized his eyeglasses need adjusting. So the three of us planned an adventure. We made the decision to venture out to a new universe. We packed up the handicap conversion van with my elderly father-in-law and his “walking stick”, my hubby in his power wheelchair, and me feeling anxious, just ever so slightly. And off we went to the Walmart for the first time as a trio.
We circled the parking lot a few times searching for the appropriate van accessible space like a cargo plane circling the airport. There was a verbal rejoicing when we saw the best space near the front door become available. If you’ve ever prayed while searching for a van accessible space at the Walmart, you can appreciate the good karma in this.
I got out first and captured a buggy for the father to lean on for balance and stability. Helped him down the van’s ramp and led him to the buggy. Pushed the button to release the hubby’s powerchair from it’s latch inside the van and waited for his chair to come down the ramp.I stepped out into the traffic flow in front of the store like a school crossing guard. All I lacked was the neon yellow safety vest. I was prepared to put my body between the crazy Walmart drivers and my boys. Exercise caution and slow down. There’s an elderly man and a guy in a powerchair approaching the front door.
The vision center is close to the entrance and we were able to get his eyeglasses fixed quickly. One task done, two to go. Next stop was the drug aisle to stock up on the necessities of elder living such as laxatives, stool softeners, and male incontinence supplies. Doesn’t every woman wish to know about the needed bathroom supplies for her older father-in-law? Right.
Moving on to the third and final task in Men’s Clothing. It’s hard enough to take your husband shopping for clothes. Now add an elderly man looking for a specific unknown shirt type that’s not a cheap dress shirt and definitely not an ugly colored flannel shirt. To his credit, he knows exactly what he’s looking for, even if I have no clue what he’s talking about. I’m helping him search and watching him walk to make sure he’s stable. Out of the corner of my eye, I’m also tracking my hubby’s powerchair to make sure I know where he is. Neither one has a phone or a GPS – I can’t loose sight of either of them inside the vast Walmart.
The hubby motions to the pajama department to go scouting for the pajama pants he loves to wear all day. Off he goes and I’m left searching for that mysterious shirt for the father. We might as well be searching for Bigfoot. I hear Dad call my name and turn around to find him gazing at a rack of shirts as if he has found the Holy Grail. Seeing the joy on his face, I knew all we had to do was find the right size and we did. We had found Bigfoot in Men’s Clothing. Hallelujah. We picked out two shirts and started looking for the hubby and his pajama pants. Miracle of miracles, we found the right pajama pant size and color to make him happy as well. It was becoming a very happy day.
We made our way back to the front of the store and to the registers. We were delighted to find an open lane with the cashier waiting for us. She was very patient and sweet to us as I helped Dad use his credit card. Out of the store we went with our newly purchased clothes, a pair of repaired eyeglasses, and a couple bags of assorted personal care pharmaceuticals for an older gentleman. I was amazed and proud. With no trouble or pain, we had gotten everything needed at the Walmart.
The store buggy was returned to the corral and we piled back in the van to return home. It was a successful and non-eventful afternoon outing. As a caregiver, you relish the non-events that are boring because that means everyone gets back home safe and sound. We are tour directors, drivers, assistants, and fashion consultants. We are exceptional caregivers. We are also exceptional people doing exceptional things for the people we love.