Caring for a parent, Dementia, Mental health, mother daughter relationship, senior care

You Put Your Right Foot In

Moving Mama to a new home feels like doing the Hokey Pokey. After Rebecca and I changed our minds every few hours about which facility we preferred—the Adult Family Home or the larger option—our visiting sister Jo Ann and I took Mama to see them both again on Sunday. Turns out the AFH took another resident without giving us first refusal. That made the decision easier. Fortunately, that morning we were preferring the privacy, spaciousness, and opportunities available at the larger place.

At least we daughters were. Mama continues to prove herself incapable of understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each, and why the option to stay home is untenable; and incapable of understanding that she is incapable, which makes the whole thing just sad. But she seemed okay with the move, talking about the room as her room.

As I drove to Seattle in the Monday morning darkness, the day after the decision was made, my mind wandered from the recorded book in the CD player and dove into Rebecca’s sadness about this move and my lack of it. Am I callous? I’m concerned, yes. I don’t know if this can be successful, and I know it has to be. I try to imagine what my mother is feeling, and it’s not a far stretch.

I left my home and my life four and a half years ago and it was wrenching. But I had only lived in that home five years. I loved it, yes, but I felt ready for a new thing. My home, my work, and my creative endeavors tend to serve their purpose and then I’m ready to move on. My mother’s home and what has happened in it has been her existence for more than half of her very long life. She raised her children here, she rebuilt her life here after children left home and again after her husband died.

Yes, I’m sad for her. But my whole attention for the past four and a half years is about to change. I am inevitably more focused on that, both in exciting and anxious ways. My heart is in two places, sadness for Mama and the adventure of what is next for me.

You Take Your Right Foot Out

When I returned home from Seattle at bedtime last night—where focus also is on pooping, eating, and sleeping, or not doing all of the above—Mama was in a state. Without going into the fairly sordid details, she is refusing to move and digging in her heels. I am sick to my stomach and worried about my future. Rebecca is on the fence about the right thing to do. Jo Ann is going home on Friday. No one’s whole self is in.

I want to pull the covers over my head and never come out. After a sister breakfast, Jo Ann and I met with the facility director; she can hold the room and she was reassuring about our concerns for success. The Fabulous Hospice Team is coming again tomorrow, though we aren’t sure it will help. Mama had a positive conversation with one of her caregivers today who just happens to work at the home we want to move her to. (Is there such a thing as “just happens to”?) We will just keep dancing until we turn ourselves around. Or until we all fall down, but that’s a whole other thing, isn’t it?

8 thoughts on “You Put Your Right Foot In”

  1. All of the comments on this latest entry are incredibly insightful and loving. I can only echo their words. And thank them for also helping me process some of the “hindsight” stuff I am dealing with.


  2. It’s a process that I see you handling with grace, Gretchen. These are the steps and it will all work out, I promise. When you look back in later years you will see this grace, too. I promise. It’s not easy now but I have to trust it is all unfolding as it should. Peace, dear one.


    1. I think I handled last night’s “conversation” pretty well, if I do say so, in which I got slammed with some pretty ugly stuff. Even with a cold and after a long drive. I realized I was able to because my sister was here, and I could walk away and let her deal with it. Grateful. Thank you for your kind words, Mary Jo. Yes, these are the steps. Good reminder.


  3. There’s a reason why you are the one who is not wavering. Your strength and steadiness has a purpose in service to the highest good. Hold on to that, dear Gretchen.


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