Archive | November, 2012

A home is a home is a home

30 Nov

After a change in anti-psychotics, awake for almost four days straight, 4a.m. I woke to her calling out. YOOHOO!!! Over and over. “YOOHOO!” I followed the calls to the dining room. “YOOHOO!”
With the exception of her underwear, Betty sat naked at the dining room table, her caregiver scratched and at a loss. “YOOHOO!” fidgeting with a camera case on the table. She looks up at me. “YOOHOO!” The urgency of the word knocking the silence off the walls. Angry at God and terrified, I scooped her lead body up from behind and somehow managed to get her to the bedroom, dressed and in bed. As she kicked and hit, not knowing what else to do I held her legs firmly, trying to soothe her best I could. “tshh, tshh, tshh,” over and over. Finally, sleep came. I took her off the meds, called our aides and told them not to come. She slept for days. While she slept, I cried.

The point was to keep her in her home. To figure out our lives around hers so she could be comfortable. What we were too dim to realize was that without her reason, what kept her mind working, her husband, nothing made sense. Her routine was disrupted and suddenly their quiet house in the woods was bustling with nurses, CNA’s, social workers, around the clock sitters, her son and that girl. Our good intentions accelerated her condition and now all she wanted was to leave. Where she wanted to go depended on the day but usually it was to see her parents in Philadelphia. To go home. “Is the car gassed up?” “Do you have a license?”
But it was always too late to be on the road. And we did not want her father to worry. So we would get some sleep with the lie that we would be leaving first thing.

For weeks we were being told that it was time. Time to get her somewhere while she could still adjust. Somewhere they could care for her properly for less than what was being spent on the thieves, drunks and liars being sent by the agency, (not to mention the weird lady we found in the classifieds that wanted to throw rolled up socks at her like a cat). So when B got called back to work I began the search.

What most people do not know is that I was not at all close to my mother-in-law before her husband died. I had vague memories of her being strict with her son when we were teens. This time around, over the past three years during our visits Betty would watch CNN turning the volume up when she was tired of hearing us talk. B’s father and I were building a relationship but still only beginning to get familiar. For Betty, she only knew that I was tied to her son through photos.
On one of the first nights after her husband passed as I was getting her ready for bed she grabbed my hand and asked me not leave her alone. My heart ached. I said she would never be alone. I gave her a hug. She said she loved me and there I did not care that she had no idea who I was. She was afraid and I loved her too. It became all that mattered.


When she sees me her eyes widen. She asks, “When did YOU get here?!” She no longer walks on her own. I push her chair around and we listen to classical music in her room, which is decorated with all of her favorite things. In her recliner she moves her feet to the tunes. If it is warm out I put her sun hat on and we walk along the path outside. I push water in her face throughout the visit because even the good ‘homes’ are lacking and I want to make sure she is hydrated. My thoughts are forever with her bowels. I try to time visits around lunch to make sure she is eating. We don’t talk much because there is not a lot to say but often she starts out with an, “I’ll tell you, this place…” and shakes her head.

We sit at the same dining table every meal. There is Rae. According to her she never married because she didn’t need a man to take care of her. She worked hard and bought herself a Cadillac. She’s from San Antonio, has 6 siblings but only one brother. He lives in Austin. She played the trumpet in a nightclub for a time. She doesn’t know many Mexicans because they weren’t allowed to socialize with them. Oh, and everyone is a jackass.

There is Tony. He is an author from Cuba. He is not very talkative but he does makes kissy noises at me, grabs my hand and says gruffly, “beautiful girl”. Yeah, I like Tony. He will not eat his greens but he will eat three desserts if you let him. And unless you want to get smacked or stabbed with a fork, I recommend NOT touching his napkin, soup spoon or anything else really, on his side of the table.
The three of them make a good group. Rae gets up, grabs her walker. Betty calls out, “Wait for me outside.” even though they are never seen together beyond the dining room walls, she replies, “Okay.”

The place is the best out of the ones toured. Quirky and cute when it is being shown. Each wing with a theme, a front porch and a mailbox. The colors chosen from studies of what is calming to people losing their minds. Most of the staff are not whistling down the hallways because they love their job but some do. There have been some falls, a hospital visit complete with stitching glue and a small hematoma, and many more minor frustrations and concerns but all in all…
I do not get out to see her everyday. Mentally, I just cannot. And even though I know it was, I will not say it was the best decision. It was the decision that was made. It was what was less worse. I am sorry there is no real close to this entry. Too much has happened and it is 6a.m. and I have watched the cursor blink and chase typed words away trying to feel better about things. Maybe there is no feeling better to this.