Moving Mom, Part 1

The past week or so has been a tad surreal what with choosing a place for Mom to live, moving her furniture and meager belongings, and setting up her space.  I’d post pictures here, but I want her to be the first to see it before anyone, you know?  If she okays some pictures, I’ll take them after she’s settled and let you see what’s what.  Tomorrow’s the big day.

It was somewhat emotionally unsettling to take this step.  (Yeah, I realize I sound a bit like Mr. Spock, but it’s a way to deal, you know?)  During the move (two trips with a neighbor’s loaned pickup truck — Thank you, Liam! — and one with my car packed to the gills) I kept my head down, eyes focused a few inches in front of my feet.  The mantra of the day was “Get through it, get through it,” but as her rooms began to come together, I felt the band across my chest loosen, allowing me to draw a deep breath.

Price-tag aside (and it’s a hefty one, believe me; this is, after all, Connecticut), it’s a nice place.  Lovely building, friendly staff and residents.  Because there are no openings (yet) in the Memory Care Unit, Mom will reside in an assisted living apartment that has a full bath, nice sized bedroom and living area, and a tiny kitchenette with a small refrigerator, a microwave, and an electric kettle (with an auto off switch) so she can make tea whenever she wants it.  She’ll spend her days in the Memory Care Unit, becoming familiar with the layout and participating in their events.  By night, she’ll have an aide from 7 pm to 7 am to make sure she doesn’t wake confused or take it into her head to wander.

I’m convinced now that this is the right road to take (on a journey where, frankly, no road feels entirely correct), but it’s hard to let go.  She’s been with us for nearly two years.  Although I’ll continue to take her to doctor appointments and the hair dresser, her day-to-day activities will fall under someone else’s control.  It feels good, feels right…

And feels scary.  I want her safe.  I know she will be, and yet…  You know what I mean, I think; that doubtful little voice.  Doesn’t help that we toured an Alzheimer’s unit recently.  What an immeasurably sad (and somewhat horrifying) experience to see all these people who were once active and vibrant reduced to shells of their former selves, belted into wheelchairs, staring into the void, drugged for all I know to keep them complacent (some places do such things, let’s not be naive).  Horrifying.  It’s not the life I want for my mom, not the end I would choose for her.  I hope the Universe is listening, whether it be a God or Goddess or pantheon of powerful entities.  Don’t let that be her end.  Don’t.


About Melissa Crandall

Longer ago than I care to admit--although I will--I cut my writing teeth on fanzines and media tie-in novels. Since then, I've moved on to narrative nonfiction, speculative fiction, and essays. I write to explore and understand the world around me, the things I see and experience nearby or from a distance. If I shake myself up, cool. If I shake you up, even better. Not gratuitously--what's the point in that?--but to set what I know, or think I know, on end and realize, "Well, doesn't it look different from this side!" My work is neither sexually explicit nor graphically violent. Let's face it - your imaginations will come up with things far worse than anything I could write, no matter how descriptive. Besides, it's just not my thing. I live in Connecticut with my supportive husband Ed, a cat named Ruby who might just think she's a dog, and an epileptic Australian shepherd named Holly who isn't quite certain anymore who she is, except she knows she loves her mommy.
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6 Responses to Moving Mom, Part 1

  1. dementedgirl says:

    I think you are very brave to have made this hard step. We visited (and I hasten to say a very bad, very advanced) dementia care home recently, and it was truly frightening. I too hope for a different end for MIL…

    DG x

    • You said it! (And your poem is spot on!) There are good places and bad. Mom was in a not-great place a couple years back (a situation that prompted our having her move in with us). We’re fortunate that Dad saved his pennies so we can have her in a nice place…for now. But if she lives long enough, the money will undoubtedly run out. At that point, Medicaid will (I hope) kick in, but she’ll have to be moved because the place she’s in, like so many others, doesn’t accept Medicaid patients. And, oh, aren’t dementia units the worst? If the patients aren’t wandering around like something out of Bedlam, they’re strapped into wheelchairs, often sedated into immobility. It’s awful, ghastly, and I pray for Mom’s release before we reach that point. I, too, hope your MIL is allowed a different end.

  2. I know it must be heart-wrenching for you to make this move but the place that your Mom is going to sounds nice and I’m sure she’ll receive the best of care there. Hopefully this will give you a bit more breathing space and a chance to come to terms with what is happening. Best wishes, as always, to you and your Mom.

  3. Barbara Davis-Dickman says:

    I haven’t seen you in years Melissa, but somehow can sense the tears that were everywhere as you wrote this. I know there is nothing I can say to make them go away but I also know that you have done more than most people would-or could-do for your mom (Sadly,I include myself in that group of those who didn’t do as much as they should have because it was so overwhelming). Please be easy on yourself-your mom wouldn’t want you to be ripped apart by this-and trust that she will do well with both you and the staff at this facility looking out for her. Keep in mind, too, that despite those days of staring into space, Alzheimer’s patients have many moments where things are very clear and they are very happy (it may not sound like “happy” but my mom and her sister were bickering like…well…sisters….as mom lay on her deathbed. My sister said it was like old times!). You have given your mom your home, your family, horseback riding lessons, conversation, and yourself and she really does appreciate it more than you will ever hear from her. That upsetting scene you saw will not be your mother’s end. You have seen to that and I hope you can take comfort in that. Love you!

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