It’s A Quiet Thing – Confessions Of A Rotten Little Bastard, Part 22

Mom’s journey with dementia, at least from the point of factual diagnosis and not just a suspicion on my part, has been ongoing for two years now. It was August of 2014 when I accompanied her to an appointment with her primary care physician, mentioned that she’d had a prior ‘cognitive’ exam and perhaps an updated one was a good idea as there were some ‘gaps’ cropping up. Two years since she was referred to the geriatric medicine center of Maine Medical Center and diagnosed with dementia. Two years since her life as she had known it for so many years began to unravel before her eyes.

Her carefully built wall of defenses was crumbling. The explanations and assurances she had given for so long for repetitious conversations and grasping for names and details more and more were no long holding up to mask what was really going on with her. Her memory was disappearing. Her ability to figure out a process or to pull a word from her 80+ years of building vocabulary were becoming more and more compromised.

I can’t pinpoint an actual date or month or even a seasons when this began. I can say it was within the past ten years….more than five, less than twelve, but there’s not one single occurrence or ‘slip’ or concern that arose and gave me pause and led me to think ‘maybe things aren’t quite 100% with her’ for the very first time. It was lots of little things that in and of themselves were able to be justified or overlooked without much distress and anxiety – but when strung together they became a procession of clues that Mom’s cognitive ability was on the decline. It came without fanfare, without signal, without omen or caveat, and without mercy – much like Christmas in Whoville, ‘it came without ribbons, it came without tags, it came without packages, boxes or bags.’ There was no overcast sky or bone-chilling wind; no cautionary background music or telling sound effect, no blaring horn or raid siren going off.

None of this preceded dementia.

It just ‘came’.

It’s a quiet thing.

Ever since Mom’s journey started, the decline has been, to me, relatively rapid. For several months she still maintained an apartment, yet all the while I was noticing greater chasms in the years and details she was losing. I noticed her growing more frail. I noticed her getting more and more anxious having new routines introduced into her life. New doctors, new medications, new diet, new home…..all these things, every one of them necessary to her overall well-being and safety, brought upon her like shouting back at the dementia raising my staff and shouting ‘GO BACK TO THE SHADOW – YOU SHALL NOT PASS!’ like the grey wizard Gandalf to the Balrog on the bridge of Khazad-dûm.

And yet over time she still lost names, and places, and dates, and other details – little by little, one by one. The names of her parents, the circumstances of their deaths – even the fact of their deaths as she asked me recently if she’d told me what her mother said to her on Mom’s 80th birthday. Mom’s mother passed away when Mom was in her early 30’s…a full 50 years ago now.

I’ve been doing all I can to ease her through this process. Acting as if all the repeated conversations are being heard for the first time – all the answers I give her for the repeated questions are being given for the first time. When she brings up the anxieties that seem to plague her either daily, weekly, or on a six week loop (lately that has grown for many things), we talk, calmly, and I do all that I can to explain things to her in a way that will mollify her.  In a way that will smooth the rough spots out and de-escalate her worries somewhat. It’s not any kind of special trickery or shrewdness. It’s a calm voice. A reassuring tone. Talking to her in a way that is respecting that she’s an adult, not a child; not telling her what to do, but rather rationalize with her what is in her best interests and what she knows she should do for herself.

In my mind, it’s also the decades of talking to her and listening to her about her thoughts, her family, her life, her fears and building a trust between us that I would take care of her no matter what. It’s the 47 years of her being my mother and my being her son that she is still able to process that if I tell her she’s safe – she accepts it. If I tell her that although she is remembering something differently than I am, what I am telling her is the truth. In my mind it’s been all a combination of these things.

In the past few weeks Mom has called me and left me a few messages in between our daily calls (she often forgets we’ve spoken already or that I’ve told her I’ll call in the evening the next day, which is fine, understandable) and on my voice mail she’s said hello and then said, “this is….” and then paused for a moment before she identified herself as ‘Aunt Carrie’, rather than as ‘Mom’. She leaves me a message, I call her back, I don’t correct her on the ‘Aunt’ thing. She’s talking to a machine, not me, she slips, it happens. She knows who I am when we actually speak, calls me by name, calls me honey when we’re talking, same as always. Sure, she doesn’t remember where I live or what my age is (it goes back and forth, some days she does, some days she doesn’t) but the basics are still there, I’ve told myself for weeks now.

Amazing what we can convince ourselves of when we want to. Just over a year ago she told me she promised she’d never, ever forget who I was. I told her that even if I wasn’t in her head, I knew I’d always be in her heart, and let her off the hook from the promise immediately. I knew she couldn’t keep it – through no fault of her own. She knew it too, I know. I think she was trying to convince me more than herself at the time.

Four nights ago we were talking and she thanked me, again, for making the time to call her every day.  The conversation was a bit different than usual – just a slight modification in the way she carried herself on the call – something in her tone that was not the norm for her. Something less ‘familiar’ and a bit more ‘impersonal’ about how she spoke.

Something that, knowing her the way I do, as well as I do – I knew immediately what it was.

I replied, again, that calling her every day is my pleasure, that I enjoy talking with her and look forward to it each day.

“Yeah,’ she said, ‘but you do it every day – you call and talk to me and make me feel special every day…and who am I to deserve that? Who am I?”

“You tell me, who are you?” I asked.

“I’m Carrie.” She said.

“Right, but who are you to me?” I asked.

Perhaps she didn’t hear my voice crack slightly, but I noticed it, as I went toe to toe with my own denial ready to face the consequences, ‘ready’ being a relative term – full of caveats and cautions and forewarning.

“Well – we were neighbors for a long time, and we’ve always been good friends.” she replied.

Dementia creeps up on a person without  warning. It submits no proposal and awaits no committee approval. It arrives on our doorstep and invades our home without auspice or invitation. It just appears one day and stays there until it carries first the mind and then the body away.

It’s stealthy and voiceless; predatory and reticent. It skulks around for a while before it takes a person forcefully yet silently.

It’s like the tears that roll down your cheeks as you sit in a chair in a room in your house that you sit in every day while you talk to someone that you talk to every day. It’s those tears that you cry, without wailing and sobbing, just a stream of tears coming out of your eyes and you feel them there, making their way down your face wet and bothersome, while you sit in your chair stoically and compose yourself so that you don’t betray the anguish going on inside of you, anguish you convinced yourself you were prepared for just because you knew it was coming, and yet now you find yourself realizing how naive a thought that was, because right now, in this moment you have no idea how to process the realization that this woman who you speak with every day, who bore you and raised you and taught you many, many things and was a constant in your life for forty-seven years and yet suddenly you know, just by a slight variation in the timbre of her voice, no longer knows she’s your mother.

Dementia is like that as it pillages a life and a mind. It’s just like that – feline and bucolic just like those tears that you cry and keep yourself from sniffling or letting your voice break as you say goodnight and give the assurance that you’ll call again tomorrow, as usual. Just like the moments after you hang up and you realize that your life is forever altered now and there’s nothing at all you can do to change it so why scream and wail and carry on at all in the face of incapacitation? That’s what dementia is like when it trespasses into our lives and takes and takes and takes from us. It’s just like that.

It’s a quiet thing.






Unsolicited Advice – Confessions Of A Rotten Little Bastard, Part 11

My brother and I started noticing ‘changes’ in our mother several years ago. Back then they were more subtle…repeating parts of conversations, having to think about names of people she didn’t encounter regularly, and other small ‘gaps’ in her cognitive process.

Mom is a very stubborn person – or as she puts it ‘independent’. She speaks of this trait as something she has had to be over time, raising three children without much help….but we all have been adults now for a long, long time. It goes deeper than that with her, which is something I’ve come to understand to a greater degree the older I get and the better acquainted with myself I become.

In the past nine months I have had much more direct insight into and involvement with my mother’s care, as has my brother for the past few months while she’s been staying with him in Florida – a trip that was initially supposed to be one month but has been extended now to just under three and with no real ‘end date’ in sight.

During this time, as it’s become necessary to ‘take over’ many portions of mom’s day to day care I’ve learned a great deal. I hope that my own experiences, if I pass on some unsolicited advice, will assist others in their own similar efforts with aging parents, and perhaps give some aging parents a little insight as to what those who try to assist you will face.

So, for what it’s worth, here’s a few tips I’d like to pass along. I am certainly no expert on any of this, and in the past nine months have made several mis-steps along the way. But I hope my experience helps others.

1. Power Of Attorney – this is a very, very valuable thing to have for those trying to assist aging parents. But don’t assume it’s the end all and be all of necessary documentation in and of itself. Even if you have power of attorney, have it notarized. Some transactions, irrespective of the P.O.A. are not completely ‘valid’ unless notarized. I recently sold my mother’s house in Maine, and found that even with power of attorney, because it was not notarized, the deed had to be signed and witnessed and notarized by my mother for my P.O.A. to be valid to sign the rest of the documents for the sale.

2. Medical Proxy – Again, a very useful document. However, should you reach a stage where your parent/loved one cannot make sound medical decisions for themselves, or should you need to have access to a full medical history to properly care for them and understand the foundation of certain challenges they may face, the medical proxy does not guarantee you will have it. Have your loved one sign a medical release with their primary care physician. This is not something you can retroactively have them sign if you have reached a stage where they cannot make sound decisions for themselves any longer whereas it could be challenged that they did not make a sound decision in signing it. As the world becomes more and more litigious in nature, and malpractice suits are filed at the drop of a hat, doctors are, understandably, exercising more and more caution in their efforts.

3. Utilities, insurance policies, and other accounts – It seems one of the easiest decisions to make to say to an aging parent or loved one ‘Let me take that over and handle it’ when you see your loved one, more and more, struggling to make sense of insurance coverages, utility bills, and the like. Don’t assume your power of attorney will grant you access to all the closed doors placed in front of you. Make a list of all the coverages your parent/loved one has, as well as all the utilities they have, and contact each and every one of them and have your parent/loved one authorize you to speak/act on their behalf. You will save yourself a lot of time and frustration this way instead of hearing repeatedly that they cannot assist you whereas you are not an authorized party on the account, and your power of attorney does not grant you this access.

4. Guardianship – One of the toughest decisions for a person to make is to appoint someone to act in their best interests if they are unable to do so themselves. It involves a level of trust with and knowledge of someone that can take a very long time to build. If you, like my mother, reach a stage/condition in life where you do not recognize the progression of dementia, alzheimer disease, or similar debilitating conditions and diseases, you also likely will not recognize the need for someone to step in on your behalf and provide for your well-being and your safety if you are not 100% able to do so for yourself. This can either be a relatively ‘routine’ process, or it can be a very long, difficult road to travel. My brother had guardianship of our father. He/we had to go to court to obtain it following Dad’s stroke and, in essence, prove him unable to care for himself any longer. We both knew it was necessary – Dad did not feel the same. Independence is one of the final remaining things that aging parents feel they still have when they find more and more being taken away from them and they will hold on to it as tightly as they can for as long as they can. Certain wording in a medical proxy or advanced healthcare directive can eliminate the need for a court hearing to determine fitness (unless a parent/loved one challenges it strongly enough), whereas a person’s primary care physician can make the determination that a person is unable to care for themselves and make sound decisions and a guardianship can be enacted upon that determination. It’s not a simple ‘sign and done’ deal, because a physician, if they have any integrity, will cautiously approach this decision with an informed view of a person’s overall condition – but in comparison with the idea of taking your parent to court and what that can feel like or what conflicts can arise from it – it’s the lesser of two evils. Certainly a guardianship can be challenged even if granted this way, but it also can take the ‘personalization’ out of it between a caregiver/loved one if it’s a doctor’s determination that it is necessary.

5. Support – I cannot express how valuable certain friends have become to me in the past several months. They are there with advice, understanding, compassion, or just ears to bend when I’ve needed them to be. I am beyond grateful to have this support in my life. I am not a person to reach out for help easily – I take on a lot, and then try to handle the ramifications of it all myself as well. BIG mistake….at least for me. While the day to day challenges of trying to assist an aging parent/loved one can be daunting enough, at any level of caregiving from occasional help to full-on 24 hour care, don’t forget that this is also your parent (in many cases) and thoughts and feelings and ‘old wounds’ can open up at any moment and come crashing in on you. Set your resources up before you need them. Make it so you don’t have to think about who to call and where to go for support. And to go a step further – if you know someone helping an aging parent/loved one – and they are anything like me (introvert, guarded, doesn’t reach out easily) – rather than ask them if they are okay and accept the answer of ‘yes I’m fine’…..or ask them ‘is there anything I can do’ and accept the answer of ‘nope, nothing I can think of’ – listen to what they are telling you are the biggest challenges they are facing with the caregiving, and suggest taking something off their plate now and again if you are able. Ask them more direct questions than ‘how are you’ – they might open up a bit more when prompted. I am a firm believer in taking responsibility for yourself and speaking your needs, but when it feels like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, even the most ‘responsible’ people can forget how to for a while.

6. Be Kind To Yourself – Remind yourself you are doing the best you can. Remind yourself of this often. Every day.  And try to remember that you are not a machine, and sometimes, no matter how good your intentions are, you are going to make choices you will later wish you’d made differently. It happens…to everyone.


Drowning – Confessions Of A Rotten Little Bastard, Part 6

For anyone that mistakenly believes I have my shit together even part of the time lately, just because I can sit and reflect upon events and write about them in a calm and orderly fashion – I apologize if I have misled you. Calm and orderly is not a reflection of my life presently.

The truth is, lately I have felt like I’m drowning. I’m behind on laundry – so much so that I’m throwing in loads at 5:15 in the morning on a Saturday just so the kids have something clean to wear. I have taken care of some of the Christmas decorations which came down on New Year’s Day. The cellar looks like a hurricane swept through due to my frantic, time-constrained search for what was put up for decorations this year, and boxes and totes lay all akimbo down there, mocking me and my Virgo nature that practically cries out for order and organization.

I haven’t yet succumbed to making boxed mac and cheese every night for the kids for dinner. I’ve fallen in love all over again with my crock pot, as I can take five minutes and throw in the makings of a dinner before leaving for Mom’s place, turn the thing on, and forget about it until it’s time to eat. I’ve become accustomed to three minute showers and gulping down one cup of coffee to at least keep from committing homicide in the morning and find myself wishing the dog peed faster so I could finish up that task and get on to the next one. Taking care of a house, two kids, and most recently my Mom has gotten to be three full-time jobs now….let alone taking care of myself.

I have, from the beginning of her living here, been trying to get her to socialize a bit more, to meet new friends, to find distractions and activities. She has made one friend who chats with her at least four of seven days of the week, and has been to visit at Mom’s apartment a couple of times. Other than that…I’m her entertainment, her housekeeper, her personal shopper, her medical appointment transport, frequent lunch companion, sounding board, etc., etc., etc. – Mom all but refuses to do anything unless I’m doing it with her.

I suppose I should insert a disclaimer here – I’m not saying I don’t wish to spend time with her. I’m saying that while I’m devoting time to that, everything else in my life is pretty much going to hell. My house is a mess (which causes me anxiety – I’m not spotless, but chaos is difficult for me), my laundry is piling up day in and day out – one of the boys is upset with their grandmother because I’m with her so much (taking me away from him) – and a whole host of other things that are falling down around my ears because I’m doing so much with/for Mom right now. I don’t resent it, I wanted her here. It would be worse if she were still two hours away with her two recent trips to the hospital. But I also don’t want to let everything else slide in the process, least of all my duties as a parent to be there with and for the boys.

So what do you do when your 83 year old mother who, less than sixty days ago, moved out of the house she was in for 48 years, all but refuses to socialize on her own no matter what you try to do to help her along, and at the same time you see your child hurting for and wanting your attention and know that while they ‘understand’ that you are with Grammy because she needs you…they need you too….and you aren’t there….that’s pretty much all that remains with them.

You get up at 5 in the morning to do laundry. You tell Mom you have to take a day off for some one on one time with your child. You leave the events of that day up to them, and go with the flow, and let them be your guide. You see the look of fear and disappointment in your mother’s eyes that you are telling her she won’t be going out the next day or have a visitor (unless she does something about it herself), and know that unless you follow this course, no matter how you hate to see that look in her eyes, she’ll never, ever do anything different unless confronted with a stark dose of reality hitting her right between the eyes. You see the sparkle in your child’s eyes when you set up your ‘one on one’ date with them and know that that one day, since you didn’t put it off and will honor even if you are bleeding out your eyeballs the whole time, will make a huge, huge difference in the child’s feelings about all the time you have to devote to his grandmother. You spend time with Mom the day before and consult with her visiting nurse so that you are up to date on what is going on medically, and have to send regrets to your cousin who put you on a very short guest list to her post-elopement reception even though you were likely going to get to see family that lives thousands of miles away and were so looking forward to attending. You have lunch with your other child as well, one on one, so that he doesn’t feel left out, even if you took him to his first Bruins game just a couple of weeks ago and had an incredible one on one night that hopefully he (and definitely you) will never forget.

What else do you do? You pick up things as you go along and don’t try to do it all. You decide, as much as it pains your Virgo nature, that some things really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things, like the unfolded blanket hanging off the couch that one of the boys left; or the plastic tote of Christmas decorations in the guest room that will likely sit there another week until you hoist them up and take them to the basement. You completely ignore the basement and decide that if anyone asks, a hurricane DID come through, and fortunately the upper levels of the house were ‘mostly’ spared, and you’re waiting on the insurance adjuster to come assess the damage before you try to clean up.

You decide what tv shows you REALLY can’t live without, and cut back to three hours a week of programming at the maximum. You read because it helps you escape the reality of every day life at least for a little while. You blog, because writing is almost as important to your soul as reading is to your mind and sleep is to your body, and you know that to nourish all three: Mind, body, and soul, is vital to your well being. You recall the words of a wise person that if you don’t take care of yourself you can’t take care of anyone else, and you jump back into the water day in and day out and take a few mouthfuls as you go down and rise again. You accept that you can’t do it all – and you’re only setting yourself up for defeat if you try.

You learn to tread water…and realize that you have the power to keep yourself from drowning if you just admit you are  not able to do everything….and you continue to tread water until you catch the wave that will bring you to the shore where you can take a deep breath and heave a sigh of relief.

Most importantly, you admit you’re human…not SUPERhuman…..and accept your limitations and reset your priorities accordingly…and you realize that in being able to take this step – to recognize that you are not letting anyone down, you are actually doing them all a favor by taking better care of yourself – because you’ll be better at taking care of them.

And what’s more…you’ve saved yourself from drowning already.


The ‘D’ Word – Confessions Of A Rotten Little Bastard

For some time it has been becoming more and more obvious that my mother’s mind was not quite as sharp as it has been most of her life. She is 83 years of age.

A few months back I had cause to ask for a dementia evaluation, which her doctor was happy to administer.  Mom scored ‘okay’ on it, but the score prompted concerns enough to request a full geriatric evaluation. I accompanied her to the evaluation, spoke with the doctor and the social worker assigned to the case as well, and Mom underwent the testing. The results, while not at all a surprise to me, showed that Mom has dementia. Mom immediately (and to this day still has) denied that this was the result. She adamantly refuses to accept or acknowledge the diagnosis. This has made the follow up conversations, and the arrangements that have begun for the next chapter of her life, very challenging to say the least. She is moving two hours away from the home she has occupied for 48 years. She faces a geriatric driving exam which even she lacks confidence that she will pass, and therefore faces the loss of her ability to drive. She has reached a stage where life has, seemingly, more to take away than it has left to offer her.

Reaching this stage scares her. When we discussed her living arrangements last week, and the need to change them, she accused me of ‘coercing’ the results of her testing…she threatened to revoke the power of attorney/medical p.o.a. she granted me several years ago for just such an occasion – to care for her in her own incapacity to care for herself. My dad lashed out at my brother in this way – and at the time I told him to remember that it’s not about him, it’s about the dementia. I ate those words and choked on them last week, because to be accused of the things my mother accused me of hurt, initially…and it took me a bit of time to remember that she’s just as frightened of what’s happening to her as I am determined to assist it.

I have many friends struggling through this with their own parents. My father was diagnosed with dementia in 2006, in conjuncture with a mild stroke. My grandmother declined to the point of not recognizing me up until her death in 2013.  It is a slow, sad, agonizing process for all involved. My father has not yet forgotten me, but may at some point. For now his long-term memory is still amazingly good, and I revel in the stories he shares, as in both our younger days my father and I were not the best at communicating with one another. Now, I learn things I might never have known, and value the opportunity to do so.

On my last visit with my grandmother, prior to her ‘giving up’ and deciding to exit quietly from life without eating or drinking, I called her ‘Gram’, as I always did, and she did not question how we knew one another. We passed a few hours chatting like new friends who just had a remarkable ease with one another. At the end of the conversation she said, ‘I wish I knew who you are, because you seem awfully nice.’ It was a bittersweet moment for me…in the realization that she did not know me, yet liked me anyway, irrespective of our familial affiliation.

Now, sadly, it is my mother’s turn to battle with the encroaching twilight in her mind. She finds an invisible veil being pulled over the names, dates, locations, and conversations of recent history that she so easily recounted before.  Events from decades ago seem brand new to her, and old hurts and regrets are revisiting her as if the cuts are fresh, and very deep. She still rises each day, still dresses, still can put together a plate of food; but during conversations with her she asks the same questions multiple times, and the repetitive answers seem like new information to her.

I have realized, early on in this process, that I have much growing to do as a person if I am to help her navigate all the changes and all the loss. I don’t fear my mother’s death, I fear the way she’s going to live between now and then. I fear her sorrow, her despair, her frustration and terror when her life, her surroundings, her very existence becomes more and more of a mystery to her. Presently she isn’t a danger to herself, really, but there’s enough memory concerns that I need to have her closer, to pay more attention to her, to pick up on the nuances of the progression of the dementia, and hopefully provide her with greater safety and comfort in the process.

For anyone who might read this post, and is facing these challenges with their own parent/loved one, I applaud you. It’s not easy to take over as ‘parent’ to your own parent. It’s not easy to see your earliest example of safety and strength become frail and vulnerable. it’s not easy to nudge them toward this reality, when more and more of their reality becomes muddled by their condition. I have had to eliminate the word ‘dementia’ from my conversations with my mother, whereas it’s just a trigger for her anxiety and fear. I am reminded of hearing, a few years back, that you never want to tell someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia that someone they love has died. You are simply making them relive that death again and again and again the more often you present it to them. Deceased loved ones must become ‘busy’ or ‘out of town’ or some other polite excuse given to explain their absence. It’s not a malicious act…it’s the most kind thing you can do for them.

I’d like to offer some ‘pointers’ in approaching this condition with a loved one, both in terms of ensuring their safety, and in the day to day dealings with them, in the hopes that someone else might benefit from my experience, and from both my successes and ‘non-successes’ in approaching this with my mother. I am a complete novice, I just believe that by sharing, we all can grow.

1. As your parent ages, check things that are safety issues regularly – their smoke detectors, the lint filter in their dryer (which, when overloaded, can lead to a fire), their last chimney inspection, batteries in their alert devices – all of it. Check it regularly. They may not remember to.

2. Questions that begin with ‘Do you remember’ should be shortened by those three words. Most times the answer is no, they do not remember, and it will simply point out their memory issues to them once again. Just ask the question.

3. Dementia is not something people notice happening to them necessarily. Most times they don’t notice it at all, or may attribute it to just getting older. If they repeat, often, or don’t retain conversations from day to day, suggest accompanying them to the doctor to ‘meet them’ if you never have, and suggest perhaps a memory test just to see where things are at.

4. Take care of yourself when trying to care for someone else – it’s the golden rule of being a caretaker. You can’t help someone else if you are helpless. Get plenty of rest. Read, read, read about the challenge you and your loved one is facing. Find respite from the caregiving, even if it’s just a few hours a week to pamper you while someone attends to your loved one. Join a support group for caregivers, if for nothing else than to have a safe place to bitch about how hard it is. Never feel guilty if you get frustrated, angry, irritable, or annoyed – you’re only human, and by putting yourself in the position to be annoyed by it, you’re showing how much you love them. There’s no guilt in that.

5. Despite them being more like the child than the parent – they are still adults. They are still people. They deserve respect and dignity, even as old age ravages their bodies and minds. I especially have to remember this one, not because I have no respect for her, but because I approach things from a place of logic, not a place of fear and frustration, and I find myself lacking in patience when fear and frustration guide actions and words, rather than doing ‘what needs to be done.’ This is an area I really need to grow in. I am only human.

Last week my mother said something to me, called me something, that I’d never heard from her before. She, when we were near the height of our argument over living arrangements, called me a ‘rotten little bastard.’ I doubt she remembers it, but I do. It stung. However, should this happen again – should her fear and frustration take over again, I plan to refer to this blog post, where I will remind myself that I’m the bastard who loved her enough to take care of her despite the challenges. I’m the bastard who didn’t give up and walk away, no matter how difficult it got. In the end, as long as she is safe and cared for, being that kind of bastard is something I can live with.