At the end of March, Margo's father, Merlin had a stroke. It was on his left side and interfered with his talking, left hand, walking and eyesight, and slowed him down a little in everything.
This month he turns 89 years old. Until the stroke he had been very active and vigorous, and although he had other health problems, they were under control with meds, stents and so on.
Last fall, he got married to Kathy. Both had spouses that had passed away, and both needed someone to do things with. Kathy is a younger woman, only 87. They both grew up near Newburg, WI a few miles east of West Bend, --north of Milwaukee.
Merlin was a soldier in World War II. Until the stroke, he had been spending 2 or 3 days a week with other veterans providing the honor guard at funerals for other local veterans. He was still almost the same size as he was in the military--a slim and vigorous looking and acting man.
Margo went each day to the nursing home where he was in an intensive rehab program, learning to walk with a walker, use his left hand, regain clear speech and try to again become independent.
One of the problems, loss of vision on the left side. His eyes worked, but his brain does not see things on the left half of the usual view. He can compensate by turning his head, but it has been difficult as, for him, anything on the left side did not really exist. So walking down the hall in the rehab center, he bumped into things on the left.
Merlin is not recovered enough to drive his car. Although his left hand and arm are improving and his left leg allows him to walk for nearly 1/2 hour at a time, the vision limitation would make it extremely dangerous to drive. He has accepted that and that he may not be able to do many things that he was able to do until the stroke.
His memory seems to be fine. He knows the day-to-day things that are planned or have happened. His health otherwise seems to be good. He has a new wife, Kathy, who will help out a great deal too, although she is not able to help him physically, so being able to use the bathroom, tub/shower, getting in and out of a car, and moving around the house and in the condo are something he has been working on extensively. Mostly they are coming along OK.
The rehab specialists said that he should continue to gain over the next year, and if there are no more strokes or other problems, probably get to be quite independent again. They think he should have 24-hour support for now. That is where Margo comes in.
The stroke was not without warning. Merlin had a much milder stroke that he seemed to fully recover from about a month before the big one. He was taking blood thinners, but either not enough or something else happened to cause the blood clot that closed off blood flow to the right side of his brain (which causes the left side of one's body to be affected).
Margo tells me the grass was mowed yesterday at the large retirement condo, the apple trees are soon to bloom and everything down there in zone 5 growing season is ahead of up here. They have had lots of rain this spring.
Margo's father has his own condo and his wife a separate one down the hall. They got married last fall, and were thinking about combining the two living quarters to one--maybe in a new place.
Right now, that works out OK, as Margo is staying in Merlin's place and her brother, Larry, has added grab bars and tub seat and other things to make it easier for Merlin. He can spend the day with Kathy and, at least for now, use his own condo for bathroom, tub, and Margo's help in some care that Kathy is not strong enough to help with.
Margo has a few cancer followup checkups at Mayo early June and is coming back for a week or two for that. She is doing fine, and gradually getting back to normal strength. During the time she is back here, her father is going to try 2 weeks at a local assisted care facility -- meals and someone to help as much as needed. It keeps Margo from having to worry and her dad says he can see what it is like too--as a possible future place to live someday.
So, here on the farm, I am not alone this summer. Scott, our adult son, has decided he too wants to live in Wisconsin--on the lake rather than down by Rochester, and has moved into the cabin for the summer. He works winters at a ski hill, and generally takes the summers off. He is helping clean out 70 years of accumulations on the farm making room for 30 years of accumulations down in SE MN. Along the way we are being brutal with tossing things we don't need.
Only keeping one computer from the 1970s, one from the 1980s, etc. Only keeping the best of the old radio collection (maybe a few of the less-than best). The clothes that I would have to lose 40 lbs to fit into are going; all of my neckties except one (I had to dress formally at work), and for sure the leaded glass stained-glass-window stuff, the ronco pop-bottle-to-drinking cup glass cutter is out, and maybe even the salad shooter.
Kathy and Merlin last fall at their wedding.