Thursday, February 5, 2015

Meems' New Home

At 9:00 this morning, I found Meems rummaging around in my kitchen in search of Raisin Bran.  "I accidentally woke up early," she explained.  Indeed, she did.  Eleven AM is usually when Sleeping Beauty graces us with her presence.  "Did you wake up because you're excited about seeing your new place?" I asked hopefully.  "No.  I just accidentally woke up."  Oh, boy.  Here we go.

After a week of searching for the perfect assisted living/memory care facility for her, packing up the tonnage of "must-haves" that she brought from Waco to her apartment at Raider Ranch, putting a half ton of don't-needs in storage, and then, setting up her room at Wilshire Place, move-in day arrived.  "Will I have free long distance?"  "Will you come to see me?"  "Do they have good food?"  The questions from the days leading up to the move changed to "Is this where I'll live until I die?" and  "Will they take good care of me?"  My stomach churned.  "You can have all my furniture.  I won't be needing it any more."  Just matter of fact.  No tears.

Leonard and The Meems
After she consumed a heaping bowl of Raisin Bran, I helped my tiny 89-year-old mother put on her favorite pink (she calls the color "shrimp") pants and one of the new tops I picked up the day before in the Allison Daley (translated:  easy to put on clothing) section of Dillard's.  "Now Mom, you can't wear your nightgown all day at Wilshire Place like you have been here at my house.  Just think of these new tops and your 'easy pants' (again, elastic-waisted Allison Daley's) as your daytime pajamas!"  "That's right," she murmured.  "Yup.  You can get up for breakfast at 8:00 with your new friends and then roll right back into bed in your daytime pajamas!"  A soft grin.  "That's right."

On the way to her new home, we stopped by Raider Ranch to meet up with Meem's BFF, Leonard, and my husband, Alan.  She would enter her new digs with a full on entourage.  Her fans.  Her encouragers.

One of the biggest selling points of Wilshire Place is that they offered to go get Leonard at Raider Ranch any time he wants to come visit Mom.  He and Meems are going to have standing dates for lunch every Monday and Friday.  (Leonard volunteers handing out food vouchers at a local church on Tuesdays and Thursdays.)    After all I told them about the special relationship that Leonard has with our family, they were anxious to meet him.  And, he did not disappoint.

"Take care of my best friend, Helen.  She is precious to us, and we want the very best for her!" with a few sprinklings of "Happy New Year!" "God Bless You!" and "Have a blessed day!" That's what Leonard sang out to everyone he met as we rolled Meems in her wheelchair to her new room.  Believe it or not, several people actually knew Leonard.  It never surprises me.  Leonard makes himself known in the best possible way wherever he goes.

We gave Mom time to wander around her room.  I showed her where I put her purses and where her "smart toothbrush" (that's what she calls her Sonicare) could be found.  "My room is bigger than I thought it would be!"  "I didn't know that I would have my own furniture here!"  "Leonard, do you think it's a nice place?!"  "Yes, it's a very nice place, Miss Helen!"  "My room is bigger than I thought it would be!"  "Is that my dresser?!"  "Is that my bed?!"  "Yes, Mom, it's your very own furniture!"  "I didn't know I'd get to have my own furniture!"

Sweet Leonard had us surround Mom and grasp hands.  He prayed over her, her room, and the entire staff of Wilshire Place.  I wish that I had recorded that special moment in time.  He is an "old school" man of god that back in the day carried a sermon in his suit pocket on Sundays in case the pastor called in sick.  The man can pray.  The prayer gave us peace.  Hearty were the amens.

Mom mentioned the size of her room and the fact that she had her own furniture numerous times.  I mean NOOM-ER-RUSS.  It finally dawned on me.  She was remembering the nursing home her own mother had been in years ago.  A depressing place with overworked, underpaid aides and the faint smell of urine.  The word "dank" comes to mind.  A place where you live, no, stay until you die.  About the 5th time she told me that I was a really good daughter, I realized that she was grateful for her new, spacious room in a place that smelled clean and flowery.  It made me sad to think that she so willingly got in the car resigned to the fact that she was heading to a dreary place where one waits for life to end.  Nope.  Not now.  Not ever.  Never.  #longtermcareinsurance

The morning just kept getting better.  We learned that Mom could wear her gown and robe to breakfast!  And, they have eggs-over-easy on the breakfast menu!  Now she was lookin' at lunches with Leonard...PJs at the breakfast table...AND, her favorite - EGGS OVER EASY!  (They serve only scrambled eggs at Raider Ranch.)  This was a huge leap in the right direction.  I could have kissed the lady that showered us with these glad tidings.

If you've heard me tell this story before, stop reading now.  Well, when you figure out which of my repetitive stories I'm telling...

About a week before we moved to Lubbock, I discovered that I was pregnant.  However, I was also sure that I was miscarrying.  No, I was SURE beyond sure that I had miscarried.  Because I had had so many miscarriages in the past, the doctor sent me for a high-powered sonogram at the hospital there in Dallas.  I took a packed bag because I just knew that I was going to have a DNC following the sonogram.  The technician was all perky and bright.  "Look!  There's your baby's heartbeat!"  "Yeah, yeah, yeah," I thought.  I had heard that before.  Heartbeats followed by heartbreak.  

As I was leaving the room, the technician said, "Don't you want to know your due date?!"  "Sure.  Tell me."  I knew that the day would never come.  "What is it?"  "March 3rd!"  My heart lifted.  I knew that God was telling me that this baby would be just fine.  We named him Reed.

When the lady from Wilshire Place was showing my friend, Linda, and me around, she asked if we would like to see the room that Mom would have.  There was only one room open in the memory care area.  "Sure!  I'd love to see it!"  She gestured to a room just steps away from where we were standing.  Room 33.  I said a quick prayer of thanks.  It was a sweet confirmation that this was the place for Mom.

March 3rd.  33.  That's my birthday.  It's a day that I've always loved because Mom made our birthdays so special.  God knows that 33 = my happy place.  Boom.  Confirmation.  Blessed.  She's home.

We left her all snuggled up in her daytime pajamas
on her very own couch ready to take a cat nap.


Barker Crew said...

This is beautiful. What a wonderful example you have been to me in so many ways and the way you are handling your mom's life transitions is a beautiful example, once again. Thank you for sharing your journey...I will remember this and I know others are learning from it too. You are awesome sauce!

Sherry said...

Oh, my heart!


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