As much as I dreaded the long drive back to Colorado, I knew I had to take Gary after his sisters planned a family reunion for the day after the 2 yr. anniversary since our son's death. We also had not been back to Colorado since his memorial service so had not seen (in person) the headstone on his final resting place. Carmen, Gary's current caregiver, went on the trip with us as I can no longer travel any distance by plane or car without help. Gary has gotten more stubborn about doing his share to help with transfers or cooperating in any way when traveling. The whole trip, he absolutely refused to sleep in the car while Carmen and I did the driving. As a result, each time we had to get him out of the car, it was more difficult and more strain on us without his help. We made a lot of stops, leaving him in the car while we took turns making our pit stop or grabbing food on the go, and used a plastic cup for him to pee in and dumped it when one of us went to the bathroom. It was a real pain having to put the visor over windshield to block out any video monitoring equipment at gas stations or parking lots, so we wouldn't get arrested for exposing him as we tried discreetly to hold the cup for him to go.
We spent the first night in Santa Fe, NM at a Comfort Suites with less than adequate handicap bathroom...bathtub instead of roll-in shower and of course the grab bars and pull down bench were on the wrong side for him to be able to hold on with his left hand, so he got a wash up next morning instead of a shower. If it were just the right side paralysis that he had to deal with, it would not have been a problem, but the lack of trunk control as well as double vision, makes it impossible. We had five nights in Colorado at a Comfort Suites with the same problem, except they did give us a shower bench to put on opposite end of tub so he could hold on to left side grab bars. We still struggled to get his legs over the edge of tub and getting him out was equally as difficult - thank God there were two of us doing the work.
We went to visit Dan's final resting site on the 22nd - the 2 yr. anniversary of his death. We also stopped to visit Gary's parents grave sites and cleaned up the headstones and placed flowers on both sites. It was chilly and windy out so I did not get Gary out of the vehicle - he could watch Carmen and I from nearby in the warm car. We met up with friends afterward for lunch at the local Perkins and did some catching up with them. Our granddaughter came by the hotel later in the afternoon and I was able to give her some jewelry items I had been hanging on to for her and her brother, and we had a nice visit.
The 23rd was the family reunion picnic, and also Gary's oldest brother and his wife's 56th anniversary. This is the brother who was diagnosed a year ago with mesothelioma, and the first time we had seen him since he has been through several rounds of chemo. He is doing as well as can be expected with the type of cancer he has, and doesn't look like someone who has cancer. All three brothers and their wives attended as well as all three sisters and two of their spouses. The oldest sister was there, but her husband no longer likes to travel so did not attend. Many nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews were also there. Our oldest son showed up with a wonderful pork tenderloin that he had smoked on his grill, so we had to try some of it. Overall, I believe there were 75 in attendance - an amazing turnout for such short-term notice. A few hours into the picnic and Gary was already showing signs of exhaustion, so we lasted until about 4 p.m. - that was a good day for him since he had been up since 9 a.m.
On Sunday we went up to the casino with our son - it was the casino where our youngest had worked for over 9 years, but I didn't recognize any of the employees and we had not been there in over six years, so things had changed somewhat. The only thing not changed was the machines being as tight as ever. lol We also had a chance while in Colorado to visit with our oldest grandson and his girlfriend and a couple cousins, one who has pancreatic cancer is going through a rough time right now and hopefully will start chemo soon. We headed back home on Monday morning around 7 a.m. and bypassed Denver using E-470 - almost 9-10 miles out of our way but avoided the rush hour bumper to bumper, stop and go through I-25 to get to the south end of Denver. We made great time to the border of Colorado/New Mexico and stopped only once for gas and another for a quick picture for Carmen at the border, and she drove the majority of the day until we finally stopped in Payson, AZ that night around 8...long day for all of us and Gary was totally exhausted. We stayed at a Quality Inn and headed out early the next morning to Scottsdale to check on our mobile home that is listed for sale, and then back home to Coolidge, AZ. Misha was more than excited to see us home again - and his dog sitter was anxious to get her money and get out. lol