Woke up: Boise, Idaho, USA
Went to sleep: San Diego, California, USA
For the past ten days, I awoke each morning and waded through an array of half-filled boxes and piles of housewares neatly organized within the rooms of a house with no furniture except the bed I was sleeping in.
My mom, at 88, was moved into an assisted living facility in May. I went home to help my sisters get the house ready to rent.
Mom wanted to stay in her own home for the rest of her life, of course. She, my siblings and I emotionally haggled over the best course for her care for several months before she inevitably had to make the move. Dementia won.
“As we age, our risk of dementia increases. By the age of 85 almost 35-percent of those of this age group with be afflicted with this degenerative disorder that causes gradually and worsening memory loss and mental skills,” according to Anna Fleet, ActiveBeat.com.
I started in the kitchen, removing the spices, oil, vinegar, seasoning salt from the corner cupboard. I searched for the expiration date on each item and threw everything which expired prior to this decade into the trash receptacle.
I moved on to the dinner plates, cereal bowls, coffee cups brought home from touristy places, odd numbers of wine glasses, pots without lids and several hundred Tupperware® containers.
I removed the paintings from their nails and leaned them neatly, one on top of another, against a wall. My mom was an artist. She painted mostly with oil. Marvelous landscapes, vibrant colors, texture, an eye for detail. Modestly signed in the lower right hand corner, “D. Mattivi” in a penmanship she mastered in the fourth grade.
The bath towels, hand towels, wash rags, pillow cases, flat sheets, fitted sheets, and crocheted afghans went into a box labeled “Bedding.”
Mom’s current wardrobe consists primarily of black, blue and gray polyester slacks. I sorted through each item of clothing remaining at the house. Anything with a stain on the front was immediately discarded. I searched for cheerful and colorful blouses to take to her new place. A number of sweaters and heavier shirts I placed into a small box labelled, “Winter Clothes.” I hope we’ll get to open that box and pull out some warmer things when the time comes.
Her old Ford took me to the “new” apartment shortly before noon. I joined her in the dining room each day for lunch and dinner. My mom beamed with pride as she introduced me to her table mates, whose names we frequently couldn’t remember. The conversation was lively. Often, the subject was husbands and what a pain in the ass they are.
On Wednesdays at 3:00 pm they show a movie in the Activities Room. The recliners are comfy and soft blankets are available. Most of the women, including me, were asleep half way through. But, it wasn’t very interesting anyway.
Dinner is a smaller meal. Coffee, tea, grilled cheese sandwich, and a fruit cup for dessert. We cordially said “Good Night”, promising to see one another tomorrow when, in fact, the question silently looms, “Will I get another day?”
I’m closer to 60 than 50. Only 10,950 “Good Nights” until I’ll be the age my mom is now. Each day I thank the Lord for my good health and I pray I’ll be so blessed to live a good, long, time when most of life’s pain and disappointment fades from memory and green or yellow jello is the hardest decision I have to make.