Having spent the entire 2000 and 2016 summers in the Chicago area, we just got back from a three week “revisit “. Although Chicago offers visitors endless tourist opportunities, it seems like we’ve done it all: Wrigleyville, the lake, Broadway shows, the architectural tour, Chicago hot dogs, etc. A trip into town wasn’t necessary. Not this time. We just couldn’t get away from Catherine’s.
But that’s okay, Catherine needed us with her. What we came back for was to help Catherine with her neighbor, friend, and tenant, Maribel. Help like painting, replacing light fixtures, a bit of plumbing, and a season of landscaping. That was my job. Hali was busy helping Catherine with doctor appointments, legal calls, diplomacy, visits to long-term memory centers.
You see, Maribel is 53 years-old and was diagnosed a year ago with early onset Alzheimer’s. No cure, yet, just steady decline. In the short year that we last saw Maribel, we’ve also noticed the decline. Family members have yet to step up so in the meantime Catherine has become her advocate.
On top of all this, Maribel’s husband had filed for divorce shortly after her diagnosis. This has been in deadlock as attorney fees continue to rise for a year and a half now. So Catherine is stuck in a tough spot.
Maribel still has the capacity to make her own decisions, still drives, and works a couple days a week at Home Depot as a greeter. For the most part, Maribel is quite functional and can live independently. For now. But, as Maribel’s advocate, Catherine is weighing in on the big picture. Where will Maribel be in six months, a year, five years, twenty years? Catherine is 80 years-old. Where will she be along this timeline?
Every evening Maribel was over for dinner. She is quite delightful and we like her company. She needs the personal interaction. She also needs to eat.
After visiting at dinnertime, when Maribel would walk home, just three doors down, Hali and I would pow-wow with Catherine as to establishing the best strategy to take in order to make Maribel’s current situation possible and comfortable. Right now, it’s a day-to-day game plan.
As long as she can make her own decisions and as long as her family is essentially absent, Maribel is dealing with this the best she can. AND as the compassionate landlady she is, Catherine will continue to advocate for Maribel. For now.