A difficult visit. I gave him his early Father's Day gifts - bare bones this year. Shirts, slippers, lounging pants big enough to accommodate the Depends. A small box of Godiva chocolates (he liked that). No books this time - the first time ever that I haven't given him books. Last year it was equivocal, but this year there was obviously no point - he can't cope with books, so why torture him? He was barely able to work with the cards. I had to buy very simple cards - one with a picture of Snoopy that was intended for a grandfather (very little text) and another with a picture of a cat. He recognized Snoopy, sort of, at least as a familiar object. He didn't really recognize the occasion. I'm not sure he thinks of himself as a father - as near as I can tell, I'm now a sort of brother that he adopted a long time ago, before the war. I'm also two separate people - the one who visits and the one who telephones - but that's a different story. And of course I go into and out of awareness. At one point this afternoon when I was out of his line of sight, he mentioned that Alan would be stopping by. Then he looked at me - "And there you are," he said. It's all situational. No problem - I don't really need an identity anymore, I just have to do what I have to do, like observing the holiday, for example.
As for the problems - first, E wasn't there. She had to resolve some issue with her union and had the day off. The covering attendant was one of the weekend staff - an elderly woman who's intensely religious and spends her days reading Bible tracts and watching Christian television instead of interacting with him, which is probably OK because the interactions aren't good - she can't cope with him at all. It's not exactly her fault - she's clearly way over her head. But around five she went in to change his diaper and we nearly had a fistfight on her hands. The only thing she knows how to do is force the issue - pull down his pants and such - and that gets him furious and you wind up with a string of cursing, "Leave me alone, goddammit!" and such. I'd heard a little of this on weekend phone calls and E had some more to say about it and she was right. I'll have to be in touch with M and request another change of staff...
Then there was the weather - downpours, which led him into a flat-out panic about my being outdoors. He usually wants me to stay over but this was fierce and he wouldn't let it go. I tried to explain to him that a) I was traveling by train, not driving and b) I have to be back in Washington for meetings (one of them is with a nursing home but I didn't mention that). Unfortunately, his short-term memory doesn't hold from one sentence to the next, so he was stricken several times over about what was going to happen to me in my car. And he's no longer able to understand words or concepts like "work" and "meeting," so those explanations didn't get very far. He insisted I stay. He insisted I call my/his mother to tell her I was staying. I finally just maneuvered myself to the door and said quickly that it had been great and I'd be back in a couple of days and left. I didn't say which days.
The real cause of all this - apart from the fact that he's alone and frightened and dependent - is that he didn't want to be alone with the covering attendant, and the confrontation he'd had with her destabilized him, so everything was worse. All of which persuaded me of two things - first, that I've got to get him into a nursing home fast, and second, that moving him into a nursing home is going to wreck him completely. As usual, no good choices.
There were complaints bleeding through the rest of the conversation - multiple references to "the women" and how they're lying around and not doing any work. This got mixed up as usual in the television stream-of-consciousness - another beer commercial came on during the Yankees rain delay and he pointed to the people in it and said "there they are" - meaning the attendants - "they're all just hanging around."
Get him to the nursing home, yes. It'll be bad but it'll be safer, and after the one big shock, maybe he'll settle into it.
Tomorrow morning the site visit to Nursing Home 1. Then in the afternoon more phone calls to set up more appointments. Now that I've got momentum, I'd better keep it.