All Orange on the Western Front
Updated: Sep 16
For the love of gawd can we close this show now?
As if dementia life weren't entertaining enough, in the last week we decided to add a fresh COVID scare and encroaching wildfires to our repertoire making us the "Must-See!" dementia disaster of the summer.
It started when The Other Girl, while here for her Mom-shift, got a call that one of her employees had tested positive for COVID. This news immediately sparked a revival of our pandemic roles from earlier this spring.
Masks were donned, the Dance of the Disinfectants leapt to life, and Mom-coverage options shuffled from understudy to understudy.
MotherMinder was called off for the week to avoid the virus risk while The Other Girl went back to the coast to quarantine leaving me and Mom to futz around on an empty stage for the Labor Day weekend.
It wasn't too long of a stretch of Mom to myself though, The Other Girl tested negative for the virus a day later which allowed MotherMinder to return to her regularly scheduled performances after enjoying a rarity - a holiday weekend off.
Her return was short lived though as the east wind event that began Labor Day afternoon, drove the already burning Beachie Fire towards MotherMinder's home south of us. When her neighborhood went Level 2 - BE SET, she headed back down I-5 to pack valuables and evacuate.
Meanwhile, the Riverside Fire, with the east wind again in a supporting role, began furiously tap dancing its fiery feet in our direction. It started approximately 88 miles away from us, it is currently 11 miles to the east.
By Wednesday we were looking like this...
On Thursday we graduated to all the orange...
Every time I went outside I'd catch myself rubbing my eyes to see the colors of the world correctly. Then I'd remember it wasn't my eyesight that was the problem.
MotherMinder had already returned to us by the time our town hit Level 2 - BE SET. It's a good thing too.
Mom, already not thrilled by being shut up in the house for a third day in a row, would have been even less impressed being stuck between two warring factions, each panicking in their own way.
The Boyfriend in the Basement's instinct was to somehow fit the entire house into two vehicles and leave immediately, while I took this moment ripe for a decisive call-to-action to hem and haw and come to no conclusion whatsoever as to what to do and when to do it. MotherMinder thankfully kept Mom out of the fray.
TBitB was a frenzied force of a Greek chorus gone mad. I on the other hand was struck dumb with stage fright, coherent enough to pack a bag of essentials for Mom before wandering out to the front yard in a stupor of disbelief, missing the remainder of my cues for the day.
Out in the street it was like a snow day! Neighbors both known and rarely seen were greeting each other, chatting about the turn of events, discussing options, working through their own shock. It was rather festive - like a block party for impending doom sans potato salad.
I could tell most of us were experiencing varying degrees of paralysis. Listening and talking through it with the denizens of our street helped me process the overwhelming fear of the losses we may be facing. So much so that I was able to wake up the next morning and execute an evacuation strategy.
First I procured lodging by phoning a relative up in Washington with a good size, single level home. Not only were their skies smoke-free (at the time), there were no fire-induced road closures to impede our escape.
Plus, Mom could meander at will in and out of the home without being too much of an irritation to anyone not super savvy with that swinging dementia lifestyle.
Then I got busy packing clothes, medications, important papers, photo albums, etc. We choose daily essentials and those possessions that would break our hearts if we no longer had them and went from there. By end of day we had our getaway cars ready for Level 3 - GO NOW if/when the alert came.
None of us got much sleep that night except Mom, even though we skipped her sleeping pill to ensure we could get her up if need be.
But the Level 3 - GO NOW alert did not blare its fearful cacophony through the tinny speakers of our cell phones. Now the temperatures have dropped. The gusty winds have tamed down to cool breezes. Yesterday morning there was moisture in the air, the same today. The evacuation borders and the fire lines have not receded, but they also have not inched forward. There is rain in the forecast next week.
I am hopeful that we will be able to close the run of this show in the smoky comfort of our own home.
This morning Mom glared thunder clouds at me. I believe she was counting on an encroaching deadly fire to get her out of her Saturday morning shower.
Too bad for her - after spending this week inflamed with fear I remained undaunted by dementia and gave her a show-stopper of a shower.
Whether we like it or not, we are all quiet, clean, and orange on the western front.
P.S. I woke up this morning to the news that our neighborhood has been bucked back down to Level 1 - BE READY - PHEW! We've spent the day unpacking our get-away cars (marveling a bit at some odd choices of items we deemed unable to live without while in a panic), and have put the house back in order. We are so grateful that it looks like we're in the clear, and preparing to help our fellow Oregonians who have lost so much.