My last post spoke jauntily of the “good move” we’d made by moving Mom closer to the dining and living rooms at Bickford so she didn’t have to walk so far. On Friday, my sister even called to say that I had been right in acting on the move–I felt like a true sage. Saturday morning I watched some more DOWNTON ABBEY, a PBS period piece that I couldn’t stop watching, especially because I could stream it from Netflix through my Apple TV gizmo, which I HIGHLY recommend to movie junkies like me. Anyway, I’d started some laundry in anticipation of our 35th anniversary trip of about 2 1/2 weeks, which we were to start Sunday, late afternoon. Then, since it was a lovely day, I decided to take a walk rather than ride my bike in the basement. My husband was gone to teach in Detroit for the day, and he had taken my computer–I don’t exer-bike unless I have it to watch a movie or TV show. I was literally about to go out the door when the phone rang.
It was my sister, sounding upset. “The reaction to the move was only delayed. When I came in, Mom was in her chair, no Depends on, had wet herself, no shoes, and then Mom asked me, ‘Where’s my daddy?’ and sounded upset. I thought she meant HER daddy, our grandpa, so I told her he was dead. Then she really got upset, and I found out she meant OUR dad, Bill, and so told her he was OK.” Oh no. Oh no no no. I felt sick; the reaction had set in, Mom was afraid and confused and I was leaving? I couldn’t leave her when she’s afraid–that’s the one thing I am most protective about with her–and I didn’t want my sister to have to deal with it alone. I headed out the door in my walking clothes, hair finger-combed, no makeup, and drove to Bickford with dread about Mom’s condition thudding in my heart. What would I find? I would cancel the whole trip and stay with her, full-time if necessary to prevent loneliness and fear from wrapping their coldness around her. And what if I did go, and when I got back she didn’t know who I was? I began to weep. Why oh WHY had we moved her? She might never feel OK again! I parked the car, and looked at myself in the mirror. I looked like a fresh corpse–time for some lipstick so I didn’t frighten anyone inside. I applied some, looked again, and now I looked like a fresh corpse with lipstick. I rubbed a little lipstick on my cheeks, and, wisely, didn’t look again. I rushed inside, and found Mom. When she saw me, she said, “Is my daddy dead?” No, no, I told her, he’s sitting in the living room. Want to see him? She did, and we found Dad dozing in a chair, and so we sat near him. Mom seemed relieved. It was time for lunch, so I sat with her and Dad–I suggested he eat with us since Mom had wanted to know where he was.
We sat with B., a new resident, who repeated a number of times how much I looked like my parents. Maybe so, especially now that I am nearly 60! We had a pleasant lunch, and I stayed at Bickford until about 3:00, finally satisfied that Mom was OK. In the meantime, I arranged for my sister and me to meet with a representative of Compassionate Care to set up all-day care for Mom while I am gone. Michelle came to my house, and we set up 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. care for Mom, including bathing, bathrooming, dressing, light housekeeping, and accompanying her throughout the day. We worried a little how (or if) Mom would accept this stranger hanging around the room, and suggested that if Mom made the aide get out that she simply leave and return after a short time. Please, oh please, Lord, let it go well!
Sunday after church my dear friend, T. and I went to Bickford so T. could trim Mom’s hair. I finalized instructions about the new companion for Mom, and then I told Mom goodbye, my heart wrenched at the thought of leaving without knowing FOR SURE that Mom would be OK. She didn’t want me to leave, but as always when I say I have to go, she understands, hugs and kisses me, and we exchange assurances that we love each other. Sweet Mom.
Home to a flurry of Getting Ready that I always hate, but always finish and finally we pulled away, headed to Philadelphia to see my son, his wife, and our 2 1/2 year old granddaughter. Speaking of torn between desires and duties! But we drove on to a motel around Cleveland, and Monday morning headed for Philly, arriving shortly after 5:00. What a delight to see our family, and we enjoyed a dinner made by The Kitchen, where meatloaf, chicken pot pie, and spaghetti are on the menu, as well as other sorts of comfort food. This morning, Tuesday, as I played dolls with my granddaughter (I have not forgotten how!), the phone rang, and it was my sister to say that the aide we’d hired was great, that Mom was clean, the room tidy, there were no bad smells, and that the aide and Mom had been walking the halls a bit. Mom was happy! All is well! Maybe this is what Mom needs to feel safe, less lonely, and know what she’s supposed to be doing. Oh hallelujah amen! A huge load has lifted from my shoulders, and I settled back into doll-playing, sand-art, and Frisbee. I’m happier and more relaxed than I have been since Mom moved into Bickford.