I returned to my car and sat alone looking at all the paperwork that went along with placing Mom in a long-term care facility. How was I going to do this? There was no easy way, I knew, and I hated myself. This was not the way our lives were supposed to be. In a perfect world, Dad would still be here and retired. Mom and Dad would be taking road trips across the country. I would still be working in Radio and having a blast. But that was all gone now. Here I sat without a career, scrimping to just get by and debt over my head that I accrued while working at a decent paying job. Dad had been gone 7 years following his battle with Cancer for 2 years. Mom was now alone and quickly losing her memory, time, and life. What had we done to deserve this? Then my Dad’s words came into my head,
‘How selfish of you, don’t you know that there are people around the world who are way worse off than you? You should count your blessings and knock off any chip you have on your shoulder’!
True Dad, I thought, but no one could have foreseen my future when I was a child; and right now, I think, I have a right to own my feelings, if only for a moment, sitting here in my car by myself.
I started the car and drove to the next facility, which was 1 ½ hours away. This particular home was run by a community of Sisters, the Sisters of St. Joseph, within the Catholic Church. I had high hopes for this home as I’m sure Dad would have approved. Not only that, was it a coincidence that I had attended St. Joseph’s Morrow Park High School which was owned and run by the Sister’s of St. Joseph? Coincidence or not, I was on my way to tour this home.
I arrived at this beautiful, yet old, building. I was hoping, and if I were religious, praying this would be the one.
I entered the front doors and was greeted by a Nun. She was sweet and strong, yet also stern. I followed her down the dimly lit corridor and she presented some of the rooms where the residents lived. Again, most of the individuals living there were at least 80 years old, if not older. We discussed Mom and her spirituality. I knew Mom would be comfortable attending service every day, aside from that, I didn’t see anything that would give her comfort. Every resident seemed to be in wheelchairs, which would not work out well for Mom who still could walk and communicate. The rooms were very small compared to all the homes I had visited up until this point.
The Sister mentioned that they would be breaking ground in a year or so from now to expand and update the long-term care facility.
Could I wait for that? Could Mom live like this for a couple of years prior to ground breaking? How long would it take to build a new building, I thought. No, my gut was telling me, this would not be my first choice, but then again, it all depended on how quickly she deteriorated and if this was the first home to have a bed.
Prior to leaving, Sister took me to the chapel. The peacefulness overwhelmed me and I was struck by how beautiful it was.
I smiled and thanked her, and left this old building, knowing in my heart and feeling disappointed, that it would not be the ‘one’.
© 2014 Paula Bilz. All Rights Reserved.