Vitauts: March 13, 2017

Wintery March and the Caddy

Monday the 13th has been a strange day.

It was the first work day after the Spring Forward of Daylight Savings Time. It is the day after my birthday. There was snow on the ground when I left for work, and people were driving slowly. And, apparently, it’s a full moon.

I knew it was going to be just a little off.

This morning, I left Vitauts a note, like I usually do, telling him what day it is, giving him some affirmations, and explaining that I would take him to the store after work to get some food and whatever. I saw him at lunch time and reminded him that we would go to the store together. However, when I came home, I realized that my right hearing aid was missing, and this preoccupied my time. I was busy searching everywhere with a flashlight thinking that the pesky cat had gotten it… again. I don’t think I reminded dad about the store again before I went back to school.

When I came home from work at an unusually early 4:00 p.m., I noticed that the Cadillac was not where I had left it this morning. Vitauts had not been driving, and had not driven since he had come home from the hospital. This was worrisome. I texted my brother Al, and he said that I should go looking for papa. I told him that I’d wait. He sometimes took awhile in the supermarket, and where would I even begin looking?

After anxiously waiting and doing some more searching for the missing hearing aid, my phone rang. It was my sister, Andra. She told me that dad called her because he was lost and out of gas. She reported his location as “Fort Calhoun Road.” I did a quick search, and found that this was indeed a road in Fort Calhoun. How did he get to Fort Calhoun? Neither of us had a clue, but we decided to go ahead and start driving. I got my shoes on and started to leave when the phone rang again. This time it was dad.

I was worried about calling him because he never hears the phone ringing, and he acts confused when he picks up, if he picks up. But he was calling me. I answered, and he explained that he was lost and out of gas. I asked him where he was, but he didn’t know. So I asked him to hand the phone to somebody nearby. He found a kind man who said he couldn’t help him, but he gave me the exact address. He was in Bellevue on Fort Crook Road, and not Fort Calhoun.

Luckily, Al was planning on coming over, and he lives in Papillion which is much closer to Bellevue than I am. He agreed to swing by and help dad out. He dreaded the drive home imagining dad trying to follow him, but they made it back together in one piece.

Vitauts Home Again

Dad walked in with a bag from CVS pharmacy which is about two blocks up the street from our house. The bag contained only a container of milk and some instant coffee. He used to walk to the CVS when he felt better. So somehow, he drove from the CVS on 90th and Blondo, all the way to Bellevue, and he would have just kept driving if the car hadn’t run out of gas. I would estimate that he drove over 100 miles. Who knows when he left the house? I’m just thankful that he finally ran out of gas, and that nothing too tragic happened. He did tell Alan that, “I have never been in so much trouble.” Al and I agreed that he had probably had more miserable times in his life, but to him, right now, this was the worst.

After settling in and making sure Vitauts was okay, Al and I sat down to do some work on our Fantasy Brackets game, and I told him about my hearing aid. He said that he had noticed dad messing with it when it was on the coffee table in the living room the day before. That was where I had last left it, and I just assumed that the cat had dragged it somewhere or I had misplaced it. But this was strange. “Yeah, he didn’t know what it was, and he kind of picked it up and looked at it. I told him it was your hearing aid, and he put it back down saying, ‘So that’s what this is.'”

I was immediately suspicious. I went to the kitchen and started digging through the trash. Nothing at the top, but I had a feeling. I took the plastic newspaper bag, and sifted through the coffee grounds and other nasty sediments at the bottom of the can.

This is a good time to explain that dad doesn’t understand the concept of trashcan liner bags. He walks around the house every day like a janitor and reaches into each trashcan in every room, manually pulling out each piece of trash and putting it into a new bag. He then puts all of this debris in the larger kitchen trashcan. And if the kitchen bag gets full, rather than take out the bag, he will reach into the disgusting, smelly kitchen trash and manually move piece of trash from the larger bag to a new empty bag. He has never emptied a trashcan in the “normal” fashion in his life. He says he never learned and he doesn’t know how. I had to write him a note not to touch the kitchen trash because after awhile, it reeks. It’s also really gross to think about this poor, old Latvian immigrant who has worked so hard his whole life digging into the trash with his bare hands.

My Found Hearing Aid

So, as I dug, I found it. It was buried in the bottom, covered in coffee. My $2500 hearing aid was in the trashcan for no other reason than I had set it on the table where dad could see it. Last year, when I lost my other hearing aid, I blamed the cat, and I blamed myself. I had to pay for a replacement. Now, I’m pretty sure it was dad all along. Why would he choose that one item out of all the other trashy looking items that he leaves alone or purposefully saves? You tell me. Was it an accident?

I asked him about it and he said he didn’t do it. He said that there was no way he could have done it. “There must have been some mistake.”

Yes, I suppose there was.

So the full moon. The 13th day. Monday. It’s all over now, and everything is much better. I am just hoping for a less eventful Tuesday and rest of the week!


Vitauts Update: March 1, 2017

Dad a the Doctor

I took dad to the good Doctor S. again yesterday. All the way there he gave me the same lecture about how he had driven these roads many times and how he used to know how to drive there. When we got to the office, he asked the name of the doctor, so I pointed to the door. “Ah, yes, I see,” he said, repeating the name. Then, once we were inside, he asked at least ten more times, “What is her name again?”

The nurse told us that she was running late because she had been making a hospital visit, so she took dad back to take his vitals and to draw some blood. Then we sat and waited.

As we sat there, he remembered how he had been “coming here for years”, and how he used to “come with Liesma.” This isn’t true, of course. He has now started this new habit of referring to Liesma as “mom” or “mother.” It took me a minute to figure out who he was talking about. And now, when he talks about my siblings, he refers to them as “our children,” as if I am one of the familial patriarchs. Everything feels a bit upside down.

When Dr. S finally got to the examination room, she hadn’t really read his chart nor gotten the updates from the hospital. When she finally looked and realized how serious it was, her mood got so dark so quickly. She was apologetic and asked if there was anything she could do. We were talking about dad’s heart and how well he was doing for how weak it was, and dad was kind of listening. At one point he said, “I know you are talking about me, but I do not know what you are saying.” He kept asking about his medicines and he wanted to know which ones he was on. He didn’t seem concerned about his health at all.

The most powerful part of the whole experience was the helplessness on Dr. S’s face when she asked, “Is there anything I can do for you, Jeff?” I was just sitting there, looking at my phone, trying not to get choked up thinking about it all.

Trader Joes

Then we drove to Trader Joes, and dad bought some cheese and meat for sandwiches. I swear, he has more cheese and meet for sandwiches than anyone could ever want. He got a little lost looking for a bottle of wine, and decided not to buy anything.

When we got home, he helped me learn some Latvian and we talked about the future. I have been trying to interview him each day with a different topic, jogging his memory. Last night, he was playing solitaire, like he does, and I asked him how he learned how to play and to share some memories about playing cards. He talked about one “old guy” who used to play with them that they called “The Cheater.” I don’t recall anyone by that nickname, so I’m wondering if it’s a real memory?


The Good Old Days

Liesma and Vitauts
Vitauts Kicking