The Preslar Family

The Preslar Family
November 2013

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

My Mom's Journey

I think it was all the way last summer, after my family returned from our surprisingly successful trip to San Diego, that we began thinking more earnestly about when it would be time to move my mother into a full-time Alzheimer's care facility.  In July, we thought we might do it that very summer, and immediately began to tour some suggested homes.  My sister and dad and I were the first ones to see the first home, and setting foot inside brought reality into clear focus with a rather painful bump.  Even though we were able to see my dad's exhaustion and frustration in caring for mom, and the thought of a care center seemed inviting and comforting, actually seeing real live people living in a place that was not their own home was a tear-jerking shock. The reality of what we were doing was an unexpected feeling.  Despite that, we kids all felt really great about a couple of the places, and really terrible about several more.  We knew dad would need some time to truly be able to make that decision, and it was a hard few months as we had many many conversations, both all together and in small groups, about our hopes and expectations.

Finally just after Christmas dad was ready to look again at moving mom into a home.  We had found one we really like - amazingly in Taylorsville, which is a pretty different part of the city from where Dad or Margaret or I live.  When we first were on our way to tour it in the fall we all thought it was nuts to pick a place so far away until we got there, whereupon we immediately decided it was the best match for us. When, after Christmas, we called to check on availability of rooms, it just so happened that there were two open. This really tested dad's determination.  I think he had figured on a waiting time of at least a couple of months, and he struggled with feelings of guilt about moving mom.  The kids all really felt great about this though, as we care for our dad's health just as much as we care about our mom's.  It was time.

The process of getting mom moved into the space were rather tricky behind the scenes as the kids tried to support dad in picking out what to bring with mom, how to decorate her room and what furniture to use. There were some mix ups and Peter and I ended up furniture shopping on the very day mom was supposed to move in which was very hectic and my blood pressure still elevates a bit when I think of the stress of that morning. Despite the clamoring to get ready, everything with mom's move itself went extremely well.

I'll mention first one of the most special and sacred moments of my life, which occurred between my father and my brother and myself the afternoon before mom moved in. We were gathered in mom's room, the three of us, and we had decorated it and fixed it up as well as we could. We still all felt rather empty though, and sad deep inside. I felt inspired to mention that we should kneel in prayer in that room, and ask for the room to be dedicated for the special care and keeping of my mom. A very tender and heartfelt prayer was uttered, and I can only say that the feeling in that room changed.  It was sunnier, and we all felt calm and comforted. I'll never forget that moment.

The next day, after dad and Peter and I had scurried around and finally gotten the place put together properly, we headed out.  My sister Margaret was the designated drop-off person, because mom is so calm in her presence and isn't ever ruffled or suspicious. We all felt nervous that mom would be aware that she was being left in a new location but Margaret's skills with mom are very easy and natural.  My skills have definitely improved over the past couple of years but Margaret is really talented.

We have all been so grateful and relieved to see that mom really only experiences the world a minute at a time - she has never really recognized that she has been moved out of her own home and into a new one.  She is getting used to some routines and familiar faces at her new home, but she doesn't see that she hasn't been home in almost two months.  She seems delighted every time she goes into her room - she really loves it there.  She of course has her moments of paranoia and unsettled feelings, but as I have gone to visit her, those moments come and go in a flash.

Dad of course is lonely, but he was lonely for his old Kathryn anyway, and now he's no longer exhausted by her constant care and challenging nights. He sees mom every day, though I hope soon he takes a chance to go on a trip with friends. I see mom almost every week.  The nice thing is that she's just so happy to see me whenever she does see me - she never knows how long it's been since she's seen me. It's just happy. It's starting to feel more like she's happy to see a friendly face smiling at her as I approach - I'm less and less sure she recognizes me.  This could be partly due to the fact that my last few visits have been on very busy days with lots of people there, and this overwhelms her, but I haven't heard her say my name in a few weeks.  That doesn't bother me too much, as I know that that is part of the process.  It's just interesting to think that I will not ever know if, when she does recognize me, it will be the last time.

I'm so grateful we found this lovely facility and that mom is happy there.  I'm so grateful that dad has settled into his new routine and seems much more peaceful and happy, albeit lonely.  But it's so much better than frustrated and exhausted.  I'm proud of him.


This is the sign that was posted on the day of mom's arrival

Here's part of mom's cute little room


Me bringing mom a tasty treat from In-n-Out - chocolate shake!!



1 comment:

Karen Barton said...

I rarely look at blogs but saw yours today and read this sweet post about your Mom (dad and fam). I love you so much. Good good people ,they best!