December 12: Padre’s Point of View

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Well, the day has finally come.

I knew it would eventually, but I hoped it would be easier.

I’m glad Meredith is here with me… she will hopefully keep Mom occupied and help keep me from breaking down.

We just got to Mom’s house. She says that she’s ready to go. I help her out the door, down the stairs, and hold her hand as we walk up the driveway. Mom is so frail and tiny. She has shrunken in her old age. Turned 79 this year.

I’m going to try to make more of an adventure of today: we’re going to drive by the house on Fellowship Drive where we used to live. I wasn’t there much due to college, working, and the Army.

This is the road I used to run down. A perfect 6.2 miles. I ran that road a few times a week. Wish my knees and joints would allow me to still train like I used to. Gosh how times change. And this is the road that I met Beverly on…playing tennis one hot summer afternoon. Those were the days…

I don’t have much of an appetite but I offer to buy Mom a Hardee’s burger for lunch. She hardly ever gets burgers so hopefully she will enjoy this one. It’s going to be her last meal outside of the nursing home for a while.

We’re here at the assisted living facility now. I tried to drive slowly but I knew I couldn’t put off the inevitable any longer.

I carefully help Mom out of the car.

Surprisingly, she walks right through the doors into the director’s office. It’s as if she somewhat remembers our visit here last week.

“Hi. We’re just here for a visit. This is my handsome son and his beautiful daughter. I have the prettiest family members. We just came to see the place. I had Hardee’s. I hadn’t had a burger in the longest time. I used to have fresh meat when I was a little girl… Daddy had hogs and cows and chickens and boy… those were the days. But we’re just here for a visit.” 

I cringe at Mom’s words. We aren’t here for a visit at all. I told her yesterday she was going to move to her new home today but she’s already forgotten. I wonder if it ever even registered in her head. Poor Mom. I hate the disease that has taken over her mind.

My brother Tim arrives and we start the long trek down the hallways to find Mom’s room. She admires the art on the wall and with each step I feel my heart breaking a little more. It’s going to be so hard to leave her here.

We finally make it to her new room and I show Mom around. Her roommate is in so I’m hoping Mom won’t make a big scene when we eventually leave. Mom asks the woman why she came here and her answer is simple.

 ”My daughter said it was the best thing for me so I came here to live.”

I hope someday Mom will be able to look back and see that this arrangement is the best thing for her.

Tim and I step out for a few minutes and Meredith stays with Mom. I don’t know what they talk about, but I hear her cry, “I just don’t understand why they brought me here!” as we walk back in.

Then, seeing her sons, she breaks down and lashes out at us. It reminds me of a child getting upset at their parents for berating them.

“You lied to me! You said I was going to my new home! This isn’t my new home! I want to go back. I don’t care what you say. I want to go home. I was so looking forward to moving into my new house. You tricked me. I want Daisy. Who is going to take Daisy? Are you going to bring him here? He can’t stay alone, he’ll die! He doesn’t like other cats. I just don’t understand. You lied to me. I want Daisy. Why did you do this?”

As tears pour down her face, I wish I wasn’t in this position. It’s reversed;  I am now the parent and she is the child.

This is so hard.

I don’t want to cry but seeing Mom so confused and disoriented makes me want to. Instead, I try to explain why she’s here and how we want her to be healthy and safe.

One of the nurses comes to beckon the family away from Mom so she can get calmed and settled.

Walking out while she wailed was the hardest thing I’ve had to do in a while.

When we make it to the conference room, the director is waiting for us. She explains that, it will be harder for you than it will be for her.” and compares it to dropping a child off at kindergarten.

I think it’s more like dropping a child off at college… you make the drive with them and their stuff. You move them into their new home. You hug them goodbye and know you won’t see them for a while. I cried when we dropped Meredith off. Just thinking about that day and the similarities with today… man…

We sit there for a little longer talking about visiting her and what she might need from home, etc. I come to realize how frustrating my sister can be sometimes. Always thinking of herself and her schedule and family. And my brother treats Mom just like a child and that rubs me the wrong way.

I know she is unstable emotionally and mentally at this point because of age and not taking her meds, but she’s still our mother… the woman who worked hard to raise us right. The woman who prayed for us. The woman who cooked every Thanksgiving and Christmas meal for years. The woman who I looked up to. She’s my Mom and I love her. I’ll always love her. But I love her especially more today considering the circumstances.

I want her to be safe and happy and healthy.

I guess it isn’t about OUR wants though, but what God wants. That’s sometimes hard for me to grasp.

We’re about to walk out when one of the nurses comes to tell us that Mom is in the dining hall eating ice cream and listening to Christmas music.

“I can’t enjoy Christmas music because my heart is broken.”

That’s what Mom told the nurse.

And that’s how I feel today.

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