Monday, January 02, 2017

Moving Mom: "Worrying, You Suffer Twice"

She's lost her "independent living" apartment,  300 pounds of books, 200 pounds of kitchenware, 100 pounds of 1970s - era clothing, two massive analog TV sets, and two rooms of furniture that are now stashed in my basement.  But she hasn't lost her sense of humor:  on Day Three of her move to assisted living, I found a Post-It on the door to her apartment warning, "No radio, No TV, Enter @ own risk!"

[Top Photo: Just inside the apartment door is the bronze portrait of her by Julia Knight that I commissioned for her and Dad on her 70th birthday and their 50th anniversary.  That's Sassy's leash around the base, and the "emergency call" pendant.  I reminded her that she's supposed to wear it around her neck at all times.  "Well, look: it is around my neck."]

The move was Mom's idea, as "independent living" had come to mean, for her, insecurity when the office staff went home, and isolation. She liked the promise of "assisted living" that staff would be on her hall 24/7, that someone would respond if she touched "0" on her phone, and that her buddy Bill was also relocating to a room just four doors down the hall.

But once the decision was made, she second-guessed herself.  Just about every day in December, she has needed reassurance from my brother Todd and me that this is the right move.  When she got that, she went back to being indomitable and funny.

I doubted the move myself on our D-Day, when a process I'd estimated at three hours dragged on to eleven.  Todd drove 200 miles to be there.  We took her to breakfast at 8:00, spent time with her and Sassy at my place, and went back to see if the new apartment was ready.   Not even close.  Todd stayed with her while the movers tried to stuff the contents of two bedrooms, two bathrooms, three closets and a kitchen into a one-bedroom apartment with sitting room and "kitchenette."

Worrying about all that, I found that a couple hours' physical therapy for acute arthritis was a relief.  When I got back to Mom's residence, I handled some paperwork and payments.  Todd stayed with Mom for her first dinner at the new place, while I went back home to pick up my dog before the kennel closed for the long weekend, in time to receive leftover possessions in my basement.   Movers left around 7:30.

I woke at midnight, worrying if she was able to sleep the first night in her apartment, worrying if she had towels, her coffee maker, her cosmetics -- worrying how distraught she would be if these things weren't around.  So I spent the next three-to-four hours sorting boxes, garment bags, and furniture, so that I could get her anything she wanted whenever she asked.  [Photo:  My basement, before I started sorting, and after.]

But that morning, she had already settled into routine.  The friendly assistant, who'd looked in on her every hour of the night, reported that she'd slept well, though she was a little cranky when administered her daily pills. Mom greeted me as if no big change had happened, and all was right with the world when I stocked her small refrigerator with the necessities:  yogurt, apples, and Pinot Grigio.  We had our Saturday breakfast, our usual walk around the cemetery, and some time to organize stuff in a few remaining boxes.  What she didn't see, she didn't miss.

So, all that worry, nearly a month of sleeplessness, got me nothing.

The worry did drive me to seek distraction at the multiplex, where I enjoyed J.K.Rowling's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, with its very appealing characters, both human and digital, inhabiting Rowling's meticulously wrought alternate reality of Manhattan haunted by magical forces in 1926.

Unexpectedly, I got some great advice, too, delivered by Eddie Redmayne as the geeky but kindly hero "Newt Scamander":  "My philosophy is that worrying, you suffer twice."

Let that be my new motto.

[Photo:  Sassy never lost her sense of humor, either, as we shuttled her around from apartment, to a walk in the park, to my home, and to the new apartment.]

 [Photo: Mom visited my home to see what I decorated instead of a tree.  That's the "rough draft" in clay of the bronze portrait.]

[Photo: Mom at breakfast on the first morning after the move.]

Further reflections on life with dementia:
Does "Unfiltered" Mean True?
Photo with Mom: Safety Deposit for Emotions.
Almost 9 O'Clock: Being Mom to My Mom

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