Showing posts with label assisted living. Show all posts
Showing posts with label assisted living. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

East and West and Harold

Ever since I have given up driving, I haven’t made the time to go out and see Harold – mom’s boyfriend of five months or so – though I have written to him.  I sent the last letter on the first.  He just got it yesterday.

Jenna happened to be off on Friday, and I found a way on public transportation that would get us close to Alta Ridge.  But our pass expired on the 31st and I wouldn’t be able to get a new one until Roland got paid.  Jenna suggested that we go visit him after I picked her up from school on Thursday – but I knew that unless Roland was willing to pick us up from Alta Ridge that we would never make it home before him.  He told us to wait on our visiting Harold.

It was really too bad as the weather was so awesome on the 31st.  It was snowing when we left the house yesterday.  Jenna and I both wore our snow boots, It turns out we really didn’t need them.

By the time I left Jenna at her school it had stopped snowing and the sun was showing its brightness.  I put my sunglasses on and headed towards the bus stop where I got off.  But I continued in the same direction.

I took the bus to the train station and got off at another to board a bus that would take me to the east side.  I grew up on the east side and so recognized all of the locations we passed.  I really do miss that area and the familiarities that I had become accustomed to over the years.

The distance from the bus stop to Alta Ridge is not a bad walk in awesome weather – I bet it’s a bear in foul weather though.  Desa – the assisted living activities director- takes the bus to work on a daily basis.  She knows what routes will get her where and shared information on two different methods.

I was talking to Harold when his mail was delivered.  That’s how I know he received it yesterday.  I think he is going bonkers living there as he is easily annoyed by the elderly–childish behavior and having to repeat things as only a few of them can retain information for more than a minute. Mom would tend to repeat herself, but she took him on journeys through her descriptions – I guess.  He said that she had taken him to the house where she used to live.  I knew that wasn’t right and couldn’t believe he was telling me that.
He said that she had been excited to show him her bedroom as she was really proud of it.  He said he wasn’t impressed and that somebody had really let the place go – especially the yard.  I told him that it was not the same house where I had taken her to for the last time in January – the house I grew up in.  For my niece and her husband had been living there and had actually taken better care of it than she had. 

I told him that I didn’t know what he was talking about.  Maybe he had a dream and hasn’t been able to differentiate between having dreamed it and having it taken place for real.  I know for a fact that it wasn’t real.  Mom had a lousy sense of direction – even before the dementia.  And really, how would they have gotten out anyway?  Or gotten to where the house supposedly was? He didn’t have an explanation for that part.

After my visit, I thought I would give Desa’s alternative route a try, but then realized that I was hungry.  And I had to cross the street by Arby’s if I went back the way I came. And it just so happened to be Roland’s lunch time and he is not that far from Alta Ridge.  So I called him.

He was excited and really wanted to be with me – said he’d come pick me up, but he was on the phone with a student FOREVER.  Seriously. Three buses had come and gone.  I should have just crossed the street after purchasing my sandwich instead of returning for another sandwich and two drinks – one of which I ended up throwing away.  Not to mention that I had waited for over an hour. I really should have known better. I definitely will next time.

So by the time I was almost home, Roland was STILL on the phone (same student) and I was just shaking my head.  By the time I returned home I had less than an hour before I had to leave to get Jenna – but my socks kept on sliding off my feet and into my boots (My feet are between sock sizes – Jenna’s fit, but they’re tight.  The heels of “ladies” socks are usually always longer than my own.  They never fit right – and so I often have all this extra fabric in my shoes) and so I did want to change into sneakers before I continued on my journey. 

The bus comes every half hour and so I can arrive at Jenna’s school a half hour early or ten minutes late.  Last month I went for the half hour early.  That actually annoyed Jenna who has always preferred dawdling and specifically asked me yesterday morning: “Can you please take the bus that gets you there ten minutes late?”  
Okay then.  No more waiting for her for 30 – 40 minutes in the cold.  I can deal with it.  But Roland actually beat us home today.  Don’t know how well that’s going to work out.  I think I’m just going to have to crock pot dinner each day.

It feels like I’d spent most of the day on the bus or the train or waiting.  It didn’t seem like it had been that long.  Though it might have felt longer had I not been reading.  I may not have been the wisest with my time but overall I thought it was a really nice day.  And though I felt like I had wasted both time and money waiting for Roland and that Roland too, was disappointed about not having made the opportunity to see me, Harold and Desa had both expressed gratitude.  I guess it’s all just what I wish to focus on.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Sign Came Down

            Near my daughter’s school is an assisted living facility – at least that’s how it is advertized.  I think it is more of a retirement home or independent living.  No memory care is provided (but there are many facilities that don’t have the memory care included). To me it appears that the residences are free to come and go.  I don’t know that for a fact.  It just appears that way.

            Two months before the family assigned me the task of looking into care facilities I looked into the one close to Vantanna.  The man who showed me around was very nice and gave me a binder of all I had seen and the cost.  He encouraged me to look into other facilities but guaranteed that all would be more expensive.  And he was right.

            I remember giving Corey the information.  He said he thought it was all too soon to worry about that.  I didn’t think it was.  But as there was no memory care I didn’t think it would work for my mom.  When Corey finally did get around to realizing that one day we would have to find a place for mom, he checked out the facility and walked away even less impressed than I was.  We both agreed that escaping from the facility would have been no challenge to our mom.

            Because it was only four months before we were forced into finding something where mom couldn’t escape from, I still get a bit nostalgic whenever we pass by the first facility near Jenna’s school.

            This morning she dismissed me before we got to the school.  I walked back to the bus stop near the assisted living.  As I approached I could see a couple of guys standing near the pillar with the facility’s name on it.  One was dressed like a grim reaper.  “How cruel,” I thought.  But as it turns out it was not for the residence but for the sign and pillar itself.  For it was being demolished.


            It makes me wonder if the facility has changed ownership and will receive a new name or if it will still be used as a retirement home or  if the families of the residence will have to find a new place to live and start paying more money.  I wasn’t the only one who was curious about it.  The bus driver who stopped for me had his head turned in wonderment as he watched the caterpillar at work.  It was the longest he ever stayed at that stop.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Angels Come in all Shapes and Sizes

Many of the staff members referred to him as “the Lady Killer” which I thought was a euphemism for womanizer.  Until he started telling me of his other “love interests” who had each passed away (and now mom) I didn’t realize that “Lady Killer” was really a metaphor for “the Angel of Death” I asked him if he was.  He just laughed.

He said there was one he developed an interest in before mom – but she wasn’t ready to die and chose not to go with him.  But when he found my mom he found her true beauty.  They were inseparable – until the fall . . .

He knew she was dying.  And Madge knew.  The only two residents that are fully aware and haven’t seemed to slip into any kind of dementia stage.  Apparently they had both been in other facilities but felt overwhelmed and asked the family to put them somewhere smaller.

Madge’s family had put her there due to her constant falling.  She knows the code.  She says all one has to do is stand and watch and they can figure it out.  They can if their minds work like hers does.  But even Harold’s is slipping.  He’s still sharp.  And he cares deeply for my mom.  He’s also been aware that it was time to let go.

He is an angel – he made mom so happy.  He was a godsend - watching not over mom – but several of the residence.  Pulling the cord for them to call for assistance when needed.  Watching out for others.  Helping others feel better about themselves.

Like Yoda, he needs an assistance to help him walk. He uses a walker with built in seat.  Beneath his seat he stores things such as pictures and dog treats.  He used to store candy but was told to get rid of it after the fall.  When mom was found on the floor with a blood count of 399.  It wasn’t Harold’s fault. But it wasn’t known at the time.

I don’t know what his true height is.  I suspect that even if he was straightened out, he’d still be shorter than mom.  Corey made the comment that he just didn’t think Harold was someone that mom would choose to hang with pre dementia.

The family would like to thank you, Harold.  You made my mom happy.  She really did like living there. You truly are an angel.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Harold’s Bucket List

The other day I went to see my mom.  There were several senior citizens gathered around the TV ready to watch Harold’s recorded plane ride.  He had ridden on a bi-plane just a couple of years ago.  His ride was filmed from the ground.  The camera man had lost the plane for just a few minutes.  Sometimes the CD itself would freeze.  Harold told us that when the plane was out of view that is when it would be doing its loop-to-loops.  I don’t think so.

He also would like to ride a glider and jump out of an airplane.  The jumping will not take place.  His doctor says he’s in good enough health – but Harold is hunched over and if he lands the wrong way it could paralyze him.  So realistically he has decided not to attempt that one.  He would still like to ride on a glider though.

I learned that his last name is Mull as Desa (the activities coordinator) kept on calling him Mr. Mull – which I thought was odd as I have always heard her address every other resident by his or her first name.

I went over to sit with my mom.  I sat in a hard chair and mom sat in the couch next to me.  And then someone moved Harold to my other side.  I offered to trade mom places, but she said that was okay. 

Harold took my hand and then laughed about it as he looked over at mom and realized that she was not attached to the hand he had grabbed.  Mom introduced me to him for the umpteenth time and said she had decided to trade places after all.  The couch was comfortable to sleep in, but not to sit up and watch a movie.  It didn’t seem conducive for senior citizens – perhaps they’d been brought in for the visitors?

Harold took out a piece of candy to give to Jenna.  Mom ate it.  I don’t think Harold noticed.  He usually expresses concern as my mom is diabetic.  He lovingly scolds her and she gets upset and that is the point in which Harold becomes “That Guy” but when he’s affectionate without sounding preachy, he becomes Harold again.  Thus I can always tell whether she is on the outs with him or not.

When the DVD’s and slide show had ended, we all went back to mom’s room – Harold included.  We visited for a bit – though Harold seemed to be doing the majority of talking. Desa says that someone picks Harold up every Thursday to take him to his guitar lessons.  How I admire that.  I hope that when I get to be his age I am still actively involved.

Jenna and I were just getting ready to leave when Desa announced that they were playing Bingo and Jenna wanted to stay for that. Harold doesn’t like to play Bingo but sometimes mom will play and so he will play because mom is.  Neither one of them wanted to play Bingo while we were there.  But Jenna did.  So Jenna and I used the cards that were assigned to mom and Harold. 

Nellie wandered in and Desa invited her to sit down, but Nellie is NOT happy to be there.  She sat only because her back’s been bothering her.  Gradually Jenna became bored and we left. I could sense Nellie getting ready to jump up to follow us out.  Her physical condition slowed her down and Jenna and I were able to get away.

Poor Nellie.  Her situation is so much like my own mom when she first arrived.  Except for Nellie is further gone.  But she wants to escape like my mom once did. She’s not packed however.  Or has her purse in hand.  I wonder if the day will come when Mom and Alice realize that they don’t need their purses anymore.

Mom’s purse is heavy.  It always has been.  Once it was keys that made it heavy.  I have no clue what’s in there right now.  And except for a couple of items, mom has no clue what’s in there either.  But as long as she has it, I know she’s still in stage five.  When I see mom without her purse, I’ll know that stage seven will soon be on its way.  NOT looking forward to that at all.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Accepting Change

Mom did not go to Anna’s third birthday party.  She may not have known about it.  I wondered who would bring her – or if she’d be there at all.  I learned that the last time Sunny and her family had collected my mom for a Sunday dinner was probably the last time she was out.

I had taken her out on Memorial Day.  I don’t think she would have come if Harold hadn’t given his approval.

“Mom, you have to come.  Your brother, Bruce, will be there.”

She hadn’t seen Bruce for years.  He actually looked the same to me – but in her eyes he was still 29 or 35, certainly not an old man.  She didn’t recognize him.

But she was active and attentive and helped provide Corey with names to go with several photos he had found.  She enjoyed herself and we enjoyed having her there.  But that was over a month ago.  I haven’t taken her out since, and from what I understand, she doesn’t want to go.

Well, that’s a far cry from January through April – when she was packed to leave and looking for a way to escape and begging every visitor to please take her home.  I think her attitude changed when the walls were repainted.  When the “fun”  themes and icons were removed and the dining area was given more of a homey feel.  I wonder if she even remembers the way the place looked before the change.  I doubt it.

Sunny said they had her over for a Sunday dinner and mom was freaked and crying because she didn’t know how to get back to where she lives.  And Sunny said that all of them knew how to get her back and dinner was cut short and mom was returned to assisted living and she hasn’t been out since.  She says she chooses not to take scenic drives or tours.  She’s already seen everything there is to see. 

That’s why I didn’t volunteer to take her to Anna’s party.  I figured she would either be confused or anxious to return to her quarters and we’d spend more time in the car driving her from one end of the valley to the other than at Anna’s party. 


I am floored by the drastic change.  Still confused in her mind, she does seem to have accepted her new home and doesn’t want to leave the securities she has created.  I still think it would be nice of her to get out more – but I am happy that she finally seems content and even happy – well, except for when she feels that the staff is being intrusive – like a child who wants to live by his or her own rules and doesn’t see the wisdom in the parents’ methods.

Her adaption to change should give me an example of moving on myself and stop wishing the changes have taken and will continue to take place.  My mom will never be the same – at least in this life.  I have to accept that.  I have to adjust.  I have to find a peace just as she has.  But it is so hard.

I hope that by keeping an alias Blog with so many name changes from the ones I post about on facebook or record in my journals will force me to keep a sharper mind and keep me alert so that I don’t get dementia so that Jenna might not have to hurt the way that I’ve been hurting.  If so, I hope that she can conquer with and deal with change sooner and better than I.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Apparently He's NOT her Boyfriend

Today I read a conversation that took place between Corey and my mom.  She's upset that the workers at the facility seem to be sticking their noses into her affairs.  She wants her privacy and doesn't want the world watching her through open windows or open doors.  Therefore she keeps the blinds closed and leaves the door to her bedroom closed because she doesn't want anybody watching her.  Those who do are perverts.  And she swears when she returns to her room to find her blinds have been open.  Evidently she used the word "damn" in almost every sentence she said to Corey this afternoon.

Evidently Harold is NOT her boyfriend.  He is an old man.  Mom doesn't even call him Harold anymore.  He is that guy.  He is old enough to be her father - so she says.  I learned that he is twelve years older. 

Mom is on the younger end of those who reside at assisted living.  Harold's physical health seems to be far worse than mom's - but mentally he may be there - I don't mean totally.  Not like Madge.  But I think he retains things better than mom.  He understands when the staff knocks at the door and says that she has a phone call that she will be talking to Corey.  He understands that Corey is her son.  He remembered her birthday and somehow made arrangements for getting her this:


Sunny and Corey have been worried about mom being alone with Harold and have asked the staff to keep on eye on them.  But mom doesn't like it.  According to her it's not as if they would be doing anything such as making out.  She hasn't kissed him any differently than she might kiss her own father.  She hates the idea of someone treating her like a child.

She doesn't know that Corey made this request.  She doesn't know that Corey sent a letter to the driver's license division over a year and a half ago so that they could be the bad guys and he wouldn't jeapordize his relationship with her so that she would be/is angry with him.  (Correction made in comments)

I know that there have been a few instances when even his name was on her black list.  It has always been temporary however.  I doubt that his "golden child" image will ever be tarnished permanently.  At least I hope not.  We need strong ties somewhere.

Lately I feel like my name has been removed from the black list as well - but that's only when I'm visiting.  I don't know if she tells people I haven't been around much.  I do, after all, live in another city.  But not in those far away mountains like Kayla does.  Or so she believes.  Except for Corey, we all live approximately the same distance from mom - though we're all spread out in different directions. 

Mom just turned 74.  Anna's birthday is coming up soon.  She will be 3.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sunday Visits

         Roland had sent me this thought that brought humor to my mind when I first read it: 

Mildred calls her neighbor and says, “Please come over here and help me.  I have a killer jigsaw puzzle and I can’t figure out how to get it started.

Her neighbor asks, “What is it supposed to be when it’s finished? “
Mildred says, “According to the picture on the box, it’s a rooster.”

Her neighbor decides to go over and help with the puzzle. 
Mildred lets him in and shows him to the table. 
He studies the pieces for a moment than looks at the box than turns to her and says,
“First of all, no matter what we do, we’re not going to be able to assemble these pieces into anything resembling a rooster.” 
He takes her hand and says, “Secondly, I want you to relax.  Let’s have a nice cup of coco”
The he says with a deep sigh, “Let’s put all the corn flakes back in the box”


Now I think of Mildred as one who is going through her first stages of Dementia. Lucky neighbor.

My parking job was not the greatest, and so I pulled forward and backed in again.  I didn’t notice the other car that had pulled into the parking lot was Uncle Ross and Aunt Fern until they got out of their car.

         Mom was on the phone talking to Corey and smiled as we all waved for her.  Ross and Fern were hesitant about opening the second door as Myrna was standing there – afraid that she might escape.  I didn’t figure it out until just before we went through that Myrna was actually trying to open the door for us to pass through.  She knows the code.  Myrna’s sharp.  What in the world is she doing in that particular assisted living?

         Mom evidently told Corey that we were there – or that somebody was (I don’t know if she gave him the correct names) and Corey said that he would call back.

         Meanwhile Harold had been waiting in her room – aware that June was on the phone with Corey – he even told me who she was talking to.  And I told him that my mom had other visitors and had invited him to join us.  But he remained in the room I guess.  He didn’t join us.

         It was so good to visit with Ross and Fern as I have not seen them in a while.  Mom enjoyed the visit also.  But I remember the details. 

         Ross said that he enjoyed seeing the pictures that Corey has posted on facebook.  I think Ross is only one year older than my mom, but his face appears to be at least ten years older.  But then mom always has looked younger than she is.  And I inherited that gene as I don’t look as old as I am. 

         We talked about the house in Magna and the dinner photo I sent but still don’t know the names of the three I had inquired about.   But then neither one of them are avid facebook users and don’t even pay attention to who’s wall they are looking at.

         I told Ross about an interview that Corey had done with Grandma Helen and revealed things that Ross hadn’t even known about his own mother.

         We visited about an hour and Uncle Ross and Aunt Fern excused themselves and mom and Jenna and I made our way back to her room.  Harold meanwhile had come by just as Jenna and I were getting ready to leave.  He asked if we were all there still.  I said that two had left and the remaining two of us were leaving and he was welcome to visit.

         It is nice (and almost funny) to see (and hear about) mom being so content with staying where she lives.  She no longer tries to escape.  She doesn’t even wish to leave when we offer to take her.  Okay.  We’ve made progress with her.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Two More Poems

Whenever the Wind Blows

When I fall asleep
I sleep quite hard
Whenever the wind blows

Slumber invites me
Into worlds beyond this one
When I fall asleep

My eyelids become heavy
My thoughts are put on hold
Whenever the wind blows

My husband can’t believe
How quickly I drift off
When I fall asleep

How the trees dance
And leaves often fall
Whenever the wind blows

There’s a calm cool breeze
That surrounds me but I miss it
When I fall asleep
Whenever the wind blows
Assisted Living

Bent over

Bent over


Thursday, April 18, 2013

No More Fun Walls or 50’s Themed Diners

One of the perks that Corey liked about mom’s assisted living was the décor, which he details in this post

Initially my mom’s room was located right next to the image of Elvis Presley.  A lot of the images had three dimensional props, such as his guitar, Marilyn’s skirt; there is one of Elizabeth Taylor holding flowers.

I had personally not taken pictures, though I did consider that taking one with Elvis might be fun.  Roland and I could stand on either side and have it sent to his mom.  But alas, we were too late.  For the last time we were there together was for the Easter event – which was actually busy enough to produce inconvenient traffic.  So I figured we could do it the following week.  But Elvis’ guitar had been removed and a paint roller had made Elvis a thing of the past.

Fortunately Bill and Kayla had taken mom up and down the halls one night and took several pictures – I don’t believe they got them all.  Maybe half of them.  And one or two of them would pose with image.  So the images that I share are from Bill’s camera.

Gradually all the props came down and the icons were painted over.  Yesterday the booths were torn out and hauled out of the building.  The saddest part of all (this is where you’ll want to shed a tear): NO MORE JUKE BOX!

The Alzheimer’s Association said the decor was not confirmative to how an assisted living facility should look – and if they are springing for the payment on the upkeep and the new paint, furniture and so forth . . . it’s not like I have any say in the matter either way.

Mom thinks the walls look nice – which they do.  It just doesn’t have the “fun” feel to it anymore.  But I can also see that the “fun” may have worn off for many.  Those who reside there everyday as opposed to the younger visitor (or young at heart anyway) Jenna has already expressed her devastation of the removal of Lucy and Ethel – she will be equally upset at the diner’s new make over and furniture (Jenna does not deal well with change)

The walls do look nice.  The paintings seem kind of boring.  Generic.  But they’re supposed to be generic.  I do like the new look of the dining room chairs, but will miss the “fun feel” of the diner. 

In time it will be more like an actual home – a home where mom is comfortable and may find just as pleasant away from her room.  And after all it’s the residence that should be most comfortable with the environment and I think in time they will be.  But right now it just seems so chaotic and melancholy – just like selling the house that I grew up in and will have a part of no more.  

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Actually, Location Does Matter – but not Always an Option

I went out to see my mom at the assisted living yesterday.  The last two times I have gone, I’ve taken her out to see Aunt Trudy – who is currently in rehab and in a facility with a name similar to the place where mom is staying, but such radical difference in the two places.

Granted, the facility my aunt is in is not the last place that she will ever call home. It is a rehab center.  But it reminds me of some of the assisted living facilities that Corey and I had looked into but could not afford. I don't know how this rehab bill is going to affect Aunt Trudy – for I know that it will be more pricy than the bills Corey gets for mom.

The center where mom is currently seems understaffed.  And each of the staff members assists with the seating and the feeding and the meds and forms of entertainment.  They start setting up and bringing residents to the table starting at 11:00.  They don’t eat until 12:00.  There is one cook.

At the center where my aunt is (or even Sunrise – the place we would have put mom if money was no option) has staff teams.  I don’t know how many people were in the kitchen.  But there were three people at the table where my aunt had been seated (really fine dining atmosphere by the way – like some posh club or something) and there were three people that served them.  So each resident gets his/her own waiter?

I was asked if I wanted soup.  I was hungry but had brought my own lunch so as not to saddle my aunt’s bill with an extra expense.  I was told there was no charge for the soup.  It was really good soup!  I think they could have charged $5.00 a bowl, it was that delicious.

The residents (temp residents or patients, clients?  What would you call them) have a choice of menu items.  I don’t know how many people are in the kitchen.  I imagine the kitchen is bigger than the entire house where I currently reside (and that is NOT an exaggeration)

The food at mom’s facility? It is okay. Not that I’ve had a lot of it.  Usually there is no place to sit.  They don’t get to choose from menu items.  Eat what is served to them or don’t eat at all.

Aunt Trudy’s bed looks like it is just a single – but her room is huge!  Her bathroom is huge (but it has to facilitate a wheelchair and at least one nurse) I don’t know how often each staff member stops by.  But it’s routine clock work – I don’t guess there’s a single hour when somebody isn’t looking in on her.

Mom’s place – well . . . they have a schedule.  It gets altered a lot.  Things don’t always happen on time.  Sometimes personal items get misplaced (bras in the laundry – all with worn out tags) and sometimes overlooked.

I’m not blaming anyone.  You get what you pay for.  But there’s a lot of love and concern that goes into my mom’s place because they’re so small.  They know not just their residence, but all the family members who come to visit.  I see some smiles and genuine positive emotion with some of those who have worked with my aunt (or at least there in the facility) but I have seen just as many who are “just doing their job” who are there to get a paycheck and be polite – but their priorities don’t always seem to be set on those they serve. 

I could be wrong.  I’ve only been there twice.  Each time I’ve been overwhelmed by the “luxury”.  At mom’s I am underwhelmed for the most part.  Though I do appreciate the devotion of the staff.
I had a friend who had done rehab in an assisted living facility or nursing home, rather.  It seemed overcrowded and understaffed and reminded me of a veteran’s ward, actually. I knew of two real people that had been sent there to live for the remainder of their lives – one of whom is younger than I.  She had Huntington’s disease.  And her mom was not in a position to take care of her full time.  Same facility.

But my friend was in good spirits.  It’s certainly not the place she would have chosen for herself, but it was an option through the insurance company – and unlike many that were there, she would be returning to live with her family and would not be there until she died.

Sometimes we find that we just have to settle due to our own lack of control. Because we haven’t been blessed with financial wealth.  Because the economy robbed us of our house and were forced to move to a less expensive area.  Because the government is dipping into your paycheck because they say you owe money even though you were on welfare the last two and a half years.  Because the income you depend on has the name of your deceased spouse on it, it is automatically given to medical and you have no say in it whatsoever.

I love the school Jenna goes to currently.  I have to drive her two miles south each morning and then drive back to pick her up.  She rode the bus in her last four months of kindergarten.  We had moved to a different school boundary – one that caters to those who come from homes with a language barrier or those that are learning challenged or slow.  Jenna wasn’t happy there.  Neither one of us were.

It is such a different situation – entirely – when comparing the two schools.  Teachers at the former school kept everything under lock and key – even while in the classroom.  At her current school, teachers seem to trust students.  They close the doors and turn off the lights and that’s usually good enough for a student not to go in – or if he does, it’s to go through his own desk – never the teachers.

Jenna’s in a portable classroom this year.  I have had to use a pass to return to the main building.  The students at her current school are so polite.  They open doors for adults and stand there until the adult has passed through.  I don’t think that would even cross the minds of those in the other school that she went to.

At the former school, instruction seminars were held for the parents once a month – they would have the opportunity for learning proper hygiene, basic nutrition, things I had learned in junior high.  All of the seminars were done in Spanish and the school would supply English translators for those of us who didn’t speak Spanish (I’d gone to a seminar to meet other parents; I felt like a fish out of water) but the opportunity to mingle felt so limited.  I only went to twice.

At Jenna’s current school, there are very few that don’t speak English.  And there are several bilingual parents, teachers and students that no one should feel out of place.  There probably are a few parents who could use the basics, but no seminars are offered or morning mingles (which I learned was just a name – I did try to associate – but it just didn’t take.  But it helped me understand why Jenna was having such a hard time as she couldn’t seem to communicate either)

I loved the friendly faculty of the former school and didn’t feel threatened by anybody – but there was definitely a different atmosphere from the school Jenna attends today. 

Location.  The former is a boundary thing.  The one today.  Ironically she’s learning Spanish in the dual immersion.  But she has friends there.  She tried but made only one friend at the former – and then that friend moved.

It seems like I heard these words in Sunday morning’s session of conference: “It doesn’t matter where you live; whether it’s a nice neighborhood . . ." somehow I let those words set off my emotions.  There was a fuel burning inside of me that made me explode.  We didn’t choose our neighborhood.  We’re here because we had to settle. But perhaps I took the message out of context.  Perhaps it was my own interpretation made set me off.

 We are still struggling just to make ends meet.  The house across the street must be a section 8 and someone else is helping to fill out the required paperwork in order to get state support (I know they have to have assistance – the woman who resides there isn’t smart enough to do it herself) The police have been called I don’t know how many times because of her undisciplined children.  We certainly had absolutely no say as to whether we wanted them for neighbors or not.

Currently the police department in West Valley is being investigated by the FBI.  Should I be concerned?  I know that values start in the home – I know we can help instill learning in Jenna.  She is happy with her family.  But she shouldn’t be afraid to leave the house because of the idiots across the street.  Location does make a difference.  Sure, attitude does also.  But it’s hard having to be the strong one all the time.  It’s hard being one of 25 who volunteer and show up to see the same ones doing it again and again.  I’m worn out. 

I don’t want to have to settle because my husband’s ex wife is a habitual liar and the government won’t cut us a break.  I’m tired of living from paycheck to paycheck.  I’m tired of having needs that aren’t being fulfilled – forget about the desires.

The facility where mom lives seems to struggle just as my family does.  But they are family.  They are bound.  The facility where Aunt Trudy currently resides may have some caring family members – but I think the closeness that brings people together is lost somehow.  Who really has the greener grass?

We have been blessed with transportation.  And yes, we do have shelter for the time being.  Jenna and I have both been blessed with her current education.  And we’ve been so blessed by Church welfare and friends and family.  I guess there are pros and cons to every situation.

Friday, March 8, 2013

I Don’t Foresee Mom as Resident of the Month

          Alice Walker is a sweet lady who likes to sort things.  She sorts buttons and shamrocks and hats and hearts and whatever other craft is offered.  She’ll talk to anyone who will ask her questions.  I don’t know how long she’s been in the assisted living program – or if she was once as resistant as my own mother.  But she seems like a very go-with-the flow person right now.  She was spotlighted last month at the assisted living center where my mom has lived for almost two months. 

          Mom’s personality is very different from Alice’s.  At least right now it is.  Mom seems very anti-social – though I know she’s made friends there – or at least one friend.  Someone she says is her friend. 

          On Wednesday she introduced me to her friend Marilyn – although when I referred to her as Marilyn today, mom said that didn’t sound right.  I don’t know.  

           In her mind mom has two LaTieshas – or at least she did today.  The other one lives quite near to the facility and she could walk to LaTiesha’s house and hopefully LaTiesha will allow her to stay.  She’s not quite certain that she would want to live with me because I live so far away – I might as well live in another state.

          I went out today with the intention of unpacking her belongings (she has filled her laundry basket and at least two tote bags full of clothes and pictures that she would like to take with her) while she was out with the group on their scenic tour and was waiting in the parking lot until the bus pulled out – only the van wasn’t there.  When I saw the activities director, I asked her about it. I was told that the bus driver’s mother recently passed away and I understood that the funeral would be today.

          So I went inside to visit.  I noticed mom walking passed the glass doors – trying to escape, no doubt.  Only she didn’t have her coat on.  She didn’t have any of her bags, just her purse. She didn’t ask me if I had come for her.  She just told me her plans.  Told me that she was going to walk to LaTiesha’s.

          “I am LaTiesha,” I said.
          “No, my other LaTiesha.”

          Oh, two identical houses.  Two identical daughters. Or perhaps we’re not identical at all.  Apparently the other one is a lot nicer.  Apparently the other one isn’t a bully who doesn’t care that mom isn’t happy.  Apparently the other LaTiesha is the only one of mom’s children who isn’t against her.

          We talked about Shirley Temple – just so I could get her in a more pleasant mood.  I think she said they were friends - or had been at one time. The activities director knocked on the door and asked us to join them.  I tried three times to get mom to leave and go out to socialize.  I finally excused myself to say I would go participate.  And then I had a coughing spell.  I ended up leaving.  I hadn’t even said good-bye.  The other LaTiesha wouldn’t have said good-bye either.  She would have extended her hand toward mom and said, “Let’s walk to my house now.”

          I miss my mom.  I hope the person that she’s become will find comfort where she’s at and will be happy and sociable again.  I hope she can find a “happy-go-lucky” kind of a personality like Alice has.  I hope she won’t be as upset with the other LaTiesha as she has been with me.  Though I don’t guess it would really matter as the other LaTiesha exists only in her mind.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Oh, My! What a Day!

After a month of being cooped up due to illness, I finally went out to see my mom.  I still have a cough and probably should not be around the elderly.  This morning she had a doctor’s appointment.

Kayla was supposed to take mom to the doctor's - and had actually been planning on it for two months now.  I said I would go out to Kearns to be with her two kids while she took mom. But because of unwelcome circumstances on Kayla's end (her car and the plumbing), I ended up taking mom. 

When I arrived at the facility, I found her in a rather foul mood.  She was waiting for someone to take her home.  Had her bags packed and ready to go.  I said that we wouldn’t be leaving for another 45 minutes at least.  She asked why we couldn’t just go NOW.

I told her that we would have to spend even longer waiting in the doctor’s office.  That did not go over very well.  She was expecting to go home.  She assured me that she did not need to go to the doctor and that we should just leave and I should take her home.

I told her that I was not in a great mood myself and that we should say a prayer before we left. I told her that we would have to come back for her stuff as I'd just be taking her to the doctor's and didn't have room in my car for all of her things.  Of course I did, but by the time we got all the way from the building to the one row of cars parking lot, she forgot to take notice or at least mention it.

Of course the entire trip was a repeated conversation about "Where are we going?"  "Why can't you just take me home?"  "I feel fine.  I don't NEED to go to the doctors” Of course once we arrived, we had to wait – which made her all the antsier.  She was irate with me and I just wasn’t in the mood for her childish behavior though I did try to stay calm and remind her that she had taken us to the doctor many times when “we weren’t sick” – actually she had taken my Grandma Helen now that I think about it.  If I was to remind her, I wonder if she would even remember.  Probably not.

Mom was actually very pleasant with the staff and willingly obeyed what they asked of her: remove her coat, step on the scale, lift her arm up, etc.

I had called Corey - not to ask him to hold her hand - but to get some information about seeing the eye doctor and other treatments.  Mom was holding a clip board and trying to process the information.  I said I could help her if she'd like.  She yanked the clip board away from me and told me she could do it.  

When she was talking to Corey (she had decided that maybe she did need my assistance with the form after all and so I had traded the cell phone for the clip board) her coat had dropped to the floor.  She told him that I had thrown it there.

While Corey kept her occupied, I wrote a note to the doctor saying that even if she was experiencing physical problems it wasn't greatly known as her dementia seems to take all of that away. It doesn’t seem she can remember things for more than two seconds anymore.

The doctor asked her the questions and kept his eyes on her, the patient – and then mom would look at me to answer for her and then get upset when I continued.  And she was actually just as irate with the doctor who was being just as intrusive as we (her children) were.  But especially me.  Mom’s has had it in for me for over a year now.

We went to the lab so the doctor could check her blood and urine.  We finished up before lunch and so I took her back to the community and she asked where we were going.

"To get you something to eat” I kept on saying.

When I turned into the Alpine Ridge parking lot she read the sign.  "Alpine Ridge.  Assisted Living.  What are we doing here?"

"This is where you're going to eat."  I said - waiting for her to get upset with me.

"Oh.  It just doesn't look like a restaurant."

She made a comment about the flowers and the wind and how the flowers looked like they would blow away.

I opened the front door of the building.  She still didn't say anything.  She stopped at the second door and happily read a sign about an upcoming Easter egg hunt.  Oh, yes.  Kayla had told me about that.  It was an RSVP and I hadn’t RSVP’d. 

I opened the second door.  Some of the residents had been seated already but they hadn't started eating.

"Oh, look.  That's Marilyn," she said as she went toward one of the residence.  "Can we sit next to Marilyn?  She's my friend."  

I was so happy to hear mom say that – although Marilyn looked oblivious to our existence or the surroundings.  I didn't think that was mom’s assigned table, but I allowed her to sit in the empty seat next to Marilyn. Mom patted the chair next to her and asked me to sit.  

"I have to go back to the front desk."  I actually wouldn't mind eating with her, but the dining area doesn't seem too roomy when all the residence are sitting down to eat.

I really did need to go to the front desk to put in my RSVP. Then I slipped out - grateful that the return was not at all painful and that she was actually happy and forgot about being at the doctor or trying to escape.

It's too bad I didn't think about returning to her room before I made my escape.  I could have returned everything to the closet or to the walls.  Perhaps next time I can just sneak in during lunch – I’ll have to wear a disguise or something – or bring someone with me who can keep her occupied while I hang up her clothes and return pictures to the wall.  Or maybe I could entertain while Sunny or Kayla “unpack” – and then when we take her back to her room she won’t figure it out right away.  When the packed items are left by her bed, it’s only a reminder for her that she would like out.

Life makes a full circle.