I spent days cleaning up the condo and trying to figure out what I was going to do with Mom’s furniture. I lived in a small 2-bedroom apartment and my brother had moved into a small 1-bedroom apartment. Both of us could not take any more furniture. I had planned to take one of her chairs, her armoire and night table, to what would be considered her new home. I still had some facilities to visit within the next few days, so I put packing out of my mind. I needed to find a semi-private room as Mom was not used to roommates or strangers. The social workers all told me that there would be a greater availability of a private or semi-private room as most people could not afford those rooms. Off I went to visit a few more homes, which meant another day off work. I was exhausted but hopped in the car to get ready for the tours that I had booked in advance. It’s interesting how I had to book the tours and I was not able to visit unless I was escorted, which in the back of my mind, I thought ‘are the homes hiding something’?
The first two homes, Municipally run, were a 30-minute drive from my apartment; the last one was a longer drive at one hour and privately owned.
I arrived at the first home, which I hoped would be the ‘one’. My best friends mother-in-law worked at the home, which meant she could keep an eye out for Mom. I walked into the large building and observed it was under construction. At the time, that didn’t seem like a good choice, I had noticed recently that Mom had an aversion to loud noises. She would become very anxious, which at times could turn into aggression if there was a lot of banging.
I slowly walked through the first front door, checklist in hand, but couldn’t figure out how to get through the second door. I stood there looking lost. I looked down and saw a sign-in binder. I picked up the pen and signed in, but continued to wait for assistance. Crap, I thought. How the heck am I supposed to arrive for a tour if I can’t get into the building? Luckily, an elderly woman arrived behind me, she looked up at a keypad, pressed a few numbers, and ‘voila’, the door opened. I quickly raced in behind her, as I didn’t want to get stuck between 2 doors again.
I walked over to the receptionist and asked for the social worker that had arranged the tour.
She asked me to take a seat and said ‘Mary* will be down in a few minutes’.
‘Thank you’ I replied.
I sat there alone and looked over the lobby or atrium or whatever they called it. There were a few sleeping seniors in wheelchairs sitting in a circle listening to someone read the paper. I again thought that these residents are so much older than Mom, what would she have in common with them? Mom was only 64 and these people seemed to be at least 20 years her senior. I was not feeling comfortable at all. My heart began to race and I tried to not let the tears appear. Just as I was about to nix this place, Mary appeared.
As she put out her hand to shake mine, Mary said ‘Hi, Welcome to Red Acres’.
‘Thanks’ I said quietly with pause.
‘As you can see this is our lobby, where we hold some of our programs and special events’, she said waving her hand like ‘Vanna White’.
I nodded, as I kept looking at the seniors drooling and sleeping in their chairs, while not being able to say a word because I felt like a rock was stuck in my throat. I thought to myself, Paula, get your shit together, you can’t breakdown now.
I immediately looked away, took a deep breath, and tried to relax.
‘Let’s head into the main dining room shall we?’ Mary said smiling.
The tour lasted 30 minutes, but I don’t remember much. I kept seeing those residents, those OLD residents, who were all in wheelchairs. No, no, no, this would not work. Mom was still a vibrant WALKING woman. I couldn’t do it.
We said our goodbye’s after Mary mentioned that there is a long waiting list for this home. Really? I thought. The one good thing was my best friend’s Mother-in-law worked here, but I didn’t say a word to Mary about that. All in all I felt like saying ‘Not to worry I wasn’t planning on this home’.
I left, got in the car, and cried. Mom had nothing in common with these people. She could still talk; these people could barely keep their eyes open and the majority of them were in wheelchairs.
Once again, I doubted all of the decisions I had made so far.
Oh how I wished I didn’t have to do any of this, why couldn’t Mom be fine???
© 2014 Paula Bilz. All Rights Reserved.