Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Laugh Out Loud

After initially suggesting to my dad that he should stay at home last weekend while we journeyed to our mountain home, we gave in to his disappointment and invited him to come along.  It was actually a rather enjoyable weekend that culminated in the three of us going to see the new movie, "The Help."  My father, aged 95, cane and all, walked into the movie theater for the first time "in a long while," he recalled.  We all enjoyed the movie.  I made way too many dinners but hey, it's better than eating out all the time.

Upon returning to our in-town home, we visited Mom.  She was sort of happy to see us, but more concerned about getting her nails done and going for a walk with her unit.  I said to Dad, "I guess we're not that important."  He laughed for the first time in a long time.  We're going to have to deal with his moroseness, i.e. depression.  But at least Mom seems to be adjusting.

My dad accompanied me downstairs to the lobby and seated in the front was a charming, well-dressed, familiar looking lady.  "I put a copy of the Jewish News" in your dad's mailbox, the flaming red-haired centenarian said. "When I moved here, I didn't know anything about the Jewish Community and the paper talks about news on all levels, local, regional and national."  We chat about my father's ties to the midwest as well as hers, bridge, and many other subjects.  I'm hoping she'll inspire my dad and get him out of his funk.  I don't think it's quite that easy.  The physical therapist suggested asking the doctor for some anti-depressants.  We'll see.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


I've returned from a lovely (and much needed time out) weekend in LA where we visited our son and daughter-in-law.  Only once did I get a phone call from our Denver son that Mom had fallen again (it's always on the weekend) and that she was OK.  He and our older grandson had biked over to visit Mom and Dad.  Very nice of them.

Arriving home on Monday, I went over to visit in the afternoon where I met Dad in Mom's unit and we did the afternoon exercise class.  There was Dad sitting next to Mom, me in the back, and the residents  moving our arms to Theresa Brewer's song, "Put another nickel in, in the nickelodean.  All I want is loving you and music, music, music."  One of the residents asked if the lady in the black sweater (moi) was going to stay or leave.  I wasn't sure whether she liked the idea of me staying or she didn't.  Resolution to myself:  I plan to be less visible in the future.  The residents need calm, not a person who loves Theresa Brewer's music so much that she has to sing it out loud.

I visit marketing after I remember I have to let them know whether I want Mom to move.  They have already moved on and the only decision left I express the next day when I ask them if the next time around, we can move Mom into the less expensive space.  Oh, the guilt about spending too much money.

Dad needs milk so I make a quick run to the grocery store with him before dropping him back home and waiting for my California cousin to arrive for an overnight stay.

My cousin, who at one time lived with Mom and Dad, has come for a visit.  Their reunion in Mom's unit brings tears to my eyes.  She is so gentle and loving with them both, helping Mom go to the restroom and pouring over old picture albums with Dad in his apartment.

We drop my cousin off at another cousin's home.  My dad and she have not seen each other in nine years and it is a charming reunion between two aging people who, though they may not have seen each other for many years, have much in common these days.

I vow to spend a minimum amount of time visiting this week.  Everyone's been talking to me about how I need to make them less reliant on me.  We'll see.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Should She Move Again?

Mom's residence has changed four times in the past two years and yet another opportunity has come about once more.  She has a chance to move into a shared unit down the hall from her current private room and we can save more than $1500 a month.  No brainer?  Well, here's the deal.  The unit itself is doable, not as sunny or attractive as her current residence, but not too bad.  It's roomy, less sunny.  She would share a bathroom where they have removed the door because her possible roommate is in a wheelchair and the access is easier.  The program director at the unit where she lives said she and I should just take her to the room, explain the circumstances and then let her decide.  She's doing fairly well since she moved here and I'm just concerned that another move will disorient her.  I have to decide today.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Tuesday, August 15th

I am recovering from a rather intense week of caring and tending to grandchildren and parents almost everyday, this after my husband and I returned from a long weekend in the mountains where we readied our retreat for house guests.  The week was a juggle between taking children and father out to meals and appointments and nestled in between visiting my mother almost daily.  The weekend was no better, full of obligations.  The children were off on vacation and we only had the dog to care for.  Visits on both Saturday and Sunday just dragged me down some more.  My mother expressed a desire to "go home" (presumably to Chicago, away from Denver.)  That did it for me.  Monday I took care of financial stuff and bookkeeping but did yoga, ran, read and enjoyed my day away from them both.  I love them dearly, but you know, sometimes you need a little distance.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Good Day

Wednesday, August 10, 2100 

A Good Day

On Wednesday, I went to see my mom in the dementia unit where she lives and she was not there. She had gone on a picnic. “Wow,” I thought. “She actually went.” “Oh yes,” said one of the nurse assistants. “She wanted to go.”

That moment made me want to look back over the last three months since she had arrived in Denver from Chicago and think about the progress she has made despite her circumstances. In the unit where she resides (the second since she moved here), she has found comfort in those who surround her---the other residents whose maladies run the dimentia gamut, the cheerful nurse assistants who dress them, bathe, them, feed them and usher them to their various activities, and the marvelous activity director whose gentleness and interest makes them all feel needed and loved.

Though it’s not easy at the age of 90 to be uprooted from family and friends from a city where one has resided for seventy years and to face a sea of strange surroundings and new people, I think, though she cannot talk, that she is making the best of it and for that I am not only proud but grateful.

I am struck by moments of visiting Mom and actually having a good time. We’ve sung karaoke together and played the piano together, attempted word puzzles together and visited with some of the other residents together.

Of course, there have been some not so wonderful things as well, i.e. a trip to the emergency room at 4:30 in the morning after she fell and gashed her head, the countless times I’ve come to visit and wound up taking her to the bathroom, the call I got during the first few weeks and another report of some aggression toward others.

My philosophy is to try to take one day at a time and be happy when there's a good one.  That was today.