I cleaned up the blood this morning, using Tilex and paper towels. Other evidence of the encounter I had already removed in the dead of night. Blood stains on the wall still remain, but I’ll attack them with some cleaning chemicals shortly. I’m sure I can get rid of the spots or at least disguise them.
I had to serve an eviction notice of a sort over the past few days. Last night, around 2 a. m., the notice was served in a sudden, mechanical format that left the evictee in a somewhat damaged condition. Draining essential fluids, the little beasty ran around the kitchen and the pantry which he had called home for several days, until I caught up with him. Using a dust pan and a rolled up newspaper (an imported newspaper, one from a little town in Wyoming where my family owns property) I coaxed the unwanted tenant into place and showed him the door. Knowing the resiliency of a rat is phenomenal at times, and having had past experience with the little monsters crawling under the house before expiring from their wounds, I pitched the soon-to-be corpse into the bushes next to the canal. I’m sure he made a tasty post-midnight snack for one of the many wild creatures that call this property home.
My 90+ y.o. father was blissfully unaware of the encounter. He didn’t notice the blood on the floor or the wall (I should have cleaned it up last night, but I was afraid the noise I would make might wake him up). If he had noticed I doubt he would have cared.
The creatures are getting into the house through a cat-flap in his room. While he has assured me that no animal can get in, since he blocked it with a card board box, I know differently. This is the second rat we caught this season. Two rats, however, are much better than the rat kingdom that I discovered when I made the monumental decision to move in with my aging father.
Many tasks around the house are now beyond his measure of a man. His physical state does not stop him from trying to do them anyway. Tasks I now prevent him from attempting include removing concrete from a section of the yard that is slowly tipping into the canal, moving bags of concrete and mixing them to cover the concrete and level it off, and crawling onto the roof to remove branches. All of these tasks and more I have easily assumed.
But it is tasks that he still can do, imperfectly, that give me the most grief. Cleaning anything is one task I can’t trust him with anymore. Dishes are routinely covered with a grey slime that dries like glue on china, silverware and glass. Sponges I purchase for use in the kitchen I routinely find in the bathroom, or discover him using to scrub the toilet by hand (he does not use toilet chemicals for the job). And there is more, of course, like the chemical warfare he will wage on any insect he finds in the house. Ants result in piles of powdered ant poison on counter tops, dinging room tables, carpet and kitchen sink area.
His penchant for chemical poisons almost killed him three years ago. This was before I moved into the home to act as caregiver. A friend of his called me up and said he discovered my incoherent father babbling in his chair in the living room, sweat streaming from his face, and called the ambulance. The hospital discovered his liver had developed “an abscess” that resulted in a week in a bed with another older fellow that called me names and told me to clean up his basement whenever I was there (he confused me with a son or nephew, I think).
When I visited the home during his stay in the hospital I discovered the sad fact that I had been paying more attention to my own life than I could afford. I lost my mother 5 years ago, and I suspected there would be issues, but there was no way I could push any kind of caregiver idea or even occasional visits from healthcare workers to make sure he was ok. No, he said, he was fine. But the truth is different.
I cleaned the house from top to bottom while he was in the hospital, but I did not move in or assume a role as his family caregiver. Other incidents had to happen before he could be talked into my presence, again, in his home, for a protracted period of time. What were the incidents? That’s for another post. This one is long enough.
If you’re a caregiver to an elderly family member, how do you cope? What is your survival strategy when they don’t want your there and are not bashful about letting you know? What are YOUR horror stories?