March 25, 2017 – evening
I arrived two weeks ago with hope and dread in my heart. I was hoping Mom would not go ballistic when I approached the subject of her relocating to Missouri. The dread was, of course, how I/we would cope in the event that she did go ballistic.
I could tell that in the time she’s been home alone living independently as a widow with neighbor Kevin checking in and assisting, she has mellowed out a bit. In recent weeks there were fewer tearful calls about not having any money or being bored/restless. We spoke almost daily, and often she was fairly cheerful although confused at times.
My plan was to bring up the it’s-time-to-relocate talk after I’d been there several days. Much to my surprise…okay, shock…she brought it up. Here’s how I shared it via an email to some pals:
Mom and I had time to kill today between dental diagnosis visit and referral to oral surgeon for a tooth extraction…so I went searching for documents we’d need for filing her taxes. Dad’s Soc. Sec. statement was missing and she claimed it never came. I found it in a drawer…and some other documents. Kevin had tried to take/save other documents…and gave me a stack when I arrived yesterday.
So I came downstairs and Mom was sitting in Dad’s old chair. “Do you think it would be better if I moved down by you? It’s a lot to be coming up here all the time.”
Huh????? I’d spent the morning dreading how I would approach the subject a few days from now and wishing I could just get it over with. Bingo. She brought it up.
I sat down and shared my thoughts…that it was time, we are both getting older…and regardless of who dies first, I don’t want us to be 400 miles apart.
I’ve been planting seeds for over a year…and she hasn’t been happy living alone these past six months since Dad died. She’ll have second thoughts from time to time…but she is really enjoying having me here…so now I don’t think I’m going to meet huge resistance. I assured her that it would not be a burden to have her in Columbia…that it’s much more difficult going back and forth.
Expected to get 5-10 inches of snow overnight. Tomorrow we plan to go through things here and there…to decide what to pitch…first stages of purging. We’ll start with Dad’s old shaving brushes…30 year old bottle of Old Spice…etc.
Since that day, it’s been a bit of a roller coaster, but in general Mom is reluctantly willing to go along with the plan to relocate. She keeps reminding me that she’d rather “stay here. I don’t mind being by myself. Just forget about me.”
When she raises objections, I listen. I don’t engage her in reasoning because it doesn’t do much good and it sometimes makes her feel defensive. I just let her talk and occasionally tell her, “I understand. It’s very difficult to leave the home you’ve loved for so long.”
Sometimes we cry together when sharing memories. Just this morning, we sat in the living room after breakfast and she broke down a bit. I remained silent, grateful she could share so openly about her feelings. On one hand she understands our situation; on the other, she is bewildered. It was a dark, cold, rainy morning…a wonderful time to be still together. At one point I remember saying, “Well, every year thousands of families like us go through this same thing and it’s never easy for the elderly parents to leave their home.” After that, we decided it was dark enough for a morning nap, so we went upstairs and sacked out for a couple hours.
Today we’ve been packing for the visit to Missouri. Mom’s been cheerful and freely says how much she will miss this place.
Overall, my newly adopted older dog, Cinnamon, has been a great ambassador in winning Mom’s heart. Mom thinks it’s cute when he begs for food at the table and she sometimes sneaks him a few treats when I’m not looking. She loves to see him play with his ball and it’s great to hear her laugh at his antics.
We’ve accomplished a lot during this visit:
Surviving a tooth extraction for Mom
Getting over a head cold for me
Purged: the main medicine cabinet, the cabinet under the kitchen sink, and the front coat closet
Took five bags of clothes, belts and ties to Good Will
Purged three boxes of stuff Dad saved: maps/travel information from the trips they took, recipes, weight loss information, diabetes information, managing a condo information, gardening tips, articles about investing, and tips on gambling
Made a list of the furniture Mom wants to move to Missouri
Got taxes prepared and filed with the help of the AARP volunteer who has assisted my folks for years….THANK YOU, Phil!
Enjoyed several episodes of “Shark Tank” and “Antique Roadshow”
Mom naps more readily, although she doesn’t really believe she’s a napper. It’s been nice to just go upstairs and shut down together…the three of us – Mom, me and Cinnamon.
She fried me an egg this morning and made toast…but she is no longer making oatmeal much or cooking in general. She eats a hell of a lot of toast. When she does make oatmeal, I’ve seen her add teaspoons of oatmeal to the boiling water rather than measuring it out per instructions.
She still has a great appetite!! Loves having donuts and coffee cake around. We went to the dollar store the other day so I could get some bubble gum. She bought some Snickers bites. She loves Snickers and I made a mental note: keep Mom supplied with Snickers bites.
She tires easily and is far less feisty than she was a year ago. A lot less anger, too…at least for now.
Her sense of balance is more impaired. There’s quite a bit of difference over the past three months. Her walk is often hesitant and halting…sometimes shuffling.
She doesn’t remember visiting me and meeting my pals last September. I offered some reminders and she perked up when I mentioned how she kept sweeping acorns off the back deck.
Sometimes she has issues dressing herself…putting pants or tops on backwards…or wearing a different shoe on each foot…maybe not buttoning a blouse or jacket properly.
Thank goodness she still has her sense of humor and enjoys socializing. We’ve had several great laughs this visit. We also enjoyed a fabulous reunion with some friends we made at The Village of Victory Lakes when Dad was in skilled nursing there. We joined friends Dorothy and Betty who are residents in the independent living area…plus Judy and her aunt, Sister Margo. Not only did we have a great time gabbing and enjoying delicious food in a lovely dining room, we got to see Dorothy’s and Betty’s one bedroom apartments. It was a preview of the communities we’ll visit next week in Columbia.
Plans for Visit to Columbia
The main purpose of this visit is to have Mom look at one bedroom apartments at assisted living communities. I hope to also schedule an appointment with a lawyer recommended by a friend. The lawyer is active in eldercare matters. We’ll need advice on several matters.
We’ll also have time with family and some of my friends. Mom met some friends last September, and it will be like meeting them for the first time again.
Mom’s awareness of what is planned ebbs and flows. At dinner this evening she talked about how happy she is in her house. It’s just the right size…comfortable…and she feels safe here. An hour earlier we were visiting with neighbor Kevin chatting about relocation plans to a one bedroom apartment in Columbia and some of the furniture she plans to take.
Oh well…at least part one of the relocation saga is complete. Part two starts tomorrow with the road trip to Columbia.