Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Another May, another move.

So here we are again, packing up my mom's apartment while trying to close out another school year.

We're not even a year removed from the mad scramble to get my mom out of her first Metroplex apartment. Mom moved into a nice retirement center on April 3, 2011, but it wasn't until the end of last May that we (mostly Brett) managed to clear out her overcrowded, cluttered, not-quite-but-almost-Hoarders-worthy apartment.  (How bad was it? Twenty-two vanloads to Goodwill, y'all. TWENTY-TWO.)

My goodness, it was a struggle. The sheer volume of books, photos, classroom materials, keepsakes and EraserMate pens made for a stressful couple of months. And how crazy that the worst of it happened during the hyperdriven month of May.

Fast forward to THIS May, when we again find ourselves packing up and moving her stuff out of yet another space. Again we're looking at our crazy end-of-year calendar, trying to figure out how we can manage to empty her apartment by the May 31 deadline.

If I sound flippant, that's intentional. I mean, it's either flippant or maudlin, so I'm going with flippant. It's so much easier to gripe about the packing part than to focus on the reason for this move. And while the packing is stressful, it's nothing compared to the big decisions, the awful conversations, the heartbreaking phone calls.

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For posterity's sake, I have to include the context here. Mom fell at her retirement center apartment (we'll call it "ML") on Friday, April 27, fracturing her pelvis in two places. While in the hospital, her doctors and physical therapists thought it best that she not return to ML. This was confirmation of what Mom's primary care physician had told us even before the fall: Mom needs fully skilled nursing. Her dementia makes it difficult for her to follow simple directions, and that combined with her unpredictable behavior means she can no longer live on her own.

So after her Medicare-required three days in the hospital, Mom moved to RHNR, a nursing home that we're calling "rehab," but in reality, it is Mom's new residence.

Many have traveled this road ahead of us, so most know or can imagine how very hard this has been. We knew it'd be tough; that's why we stalled as long as we could before giving in to the primary care doctor's recommendation. I knew Mom would detest this change, and who can blame her? She has a roommate now, so goodbye, privacy. She has threatened to leave, so now she has a "wander guard" to keep her from exiting undetected. Goodbye, independence. And the food? ML's buffet line was straight-up gourmet compared to the limited options at RHNR.

Change is hard on anyone, but for a person with dementia? Devastating. Her short-term memory is shot, so she is repeatedly surprised to discover that she has a roommate, or that she's getting to dialysis in a different vehicle. Since she's been at RHNR, she has called us constantly, unaware that we have just spoken. Unfortunately, that also means she forgets the answers to her questions, answers that undoubtedly break her heart. Every. Single. Time.

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There are people who have chosen to own no more than what can fit in their cars. They say it's liberating to live without the attachments of "stuff," to be able to pick up and take off on a moment's notice.  And even though my packrat self would be on the other end of that spectrum, I can appreciate the beauty of living a clutter-free, simplified life.

But as we reduce my mom's belongings down to what will fit into one closet and a three-drawer chest, I don't see "simple." Right now, I see loss.

I also see the remnants of my childhood, represented by old songbooks and souvenir plates and my daddy's Texas windbreaker. Unless Brett lets me add a third story to our house, there's no room for me to keep it all, so I'm grieving those lost mementos.

But really, I'm grieving for my mom. I hurt for what she's lost, for what we've lost.

This post has been sitting in my "Drafts" folder for several days now. I don't know how to end this thing! I don't have the words to describe Mom's confusion, our uncertainty, her disappointment, our sadness. If I had time, those words might come, but time is at a premium between now and May 31. On top of band programs, Senior Project, a basketball meeting, a sci-fi convention, eighth grade day and a flute festival, we have an apartment to empty.



Tami said...

Love you all. {{Hugs}}

Connie Moulder said...

I am heartbroken for your sweet mom and all of you. Prayers for all of you.
Connie Moulder

Texas Jeana said...

Your mom is one of the first people I connected with at HCC and that was before I knew you and before I knew you belonged to each other. I'm heartbroken for you both. I ache with you. I wish I could fix it!

Anonymous said...

I have been deeply touched by the story you told about your mother. I will be praying for you and your family as you go through this journey. Gods peace to all.

Anonymous said...

I was touched deeply by your story. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family as you travel this unfamiliar, difficult road with your mom.