Thursday, May 10, 2012
Anniversary of Sorts
One year and four days ago, I moved my parents from Chicago to Denver. Mom didn't even make it a year out here, and Dad isn't going to be around much longer. Was it the right thing to do? It's difficult and not a good idea to go backward, but as Dad is losing more weight everyday and less and less able to move (it now takes two people to help him), I can't help but think about the choice. On the one hand, it was a good move. Until January of this year, both functioned in their new home. Dad, though not socially oriented, did like his walks with the caregivers and enjoyed eating in the dining room with Keith and me. And Mom, who was very social, enjoyed her little dementia unit community. We all did. We enjoyed visiting her and the caregivers and other residents' children. They also had the advantage of seeing their great-grandchildren, something that would not have been possible in Chicago. The other reason to be positive about the move is that I was able to be here for both of them when they needed more. If they had remained in Chicago, I would have either had to supervise by long distance or travel there for each crisis or hire a geriatric care manager in addition to their caregiver. If you consider the cost of the move to Denver versus the less expensive charges incurred once they arrived, the expense was about the same and maybe, if they both had remained alive, quite a bit less costly. I guess the only downside was more my brother's than mine. He became the one that had to travel here amidst selling his house and getting ready to retire and move to Albuquerque. I myself have had no regrets about the extra amount of time I've had to put in to care for them personally as well the task of paying attention to their clothes, their finances, their friends and their other emotional needs. It has been my honor. There are many happy memories from these last days of my parents' 90 plus lives: a great holiday-birthday brunch at our house, traveling the grocery aisles with my dad as he maneuvered his electric cart, going to Fathers' Day brunch and watching the dads and the great-grandfather and grandfather adorn their Mad Men hats, attending Mother's Christmas bell concert when they took away her bell. I've had a chance to see how resilient they both were until the end began, and I've had a chance to be reminded of how rich their lives were, filled with myriads of friends, marvelous cultural and travel experiences, art, music and family. As I say to people when they extend their condolences, "It's been a good run."