The past few years have become increasingly difficult for my mother. With a husband who was active, both socially and physically, she could always trust that he would keep busy. Until 3 seasons ago he was skiing (at age 81) and curling. He had a go at lawn bowling but I think the heat got to him and then two years ago he had his first obvious stroke. I say obvious because the doctors told us that he had likely been having many small strokes for a period of time before that. After the stroke, things started to change. Small changes at first, but then more noticeable as time went by. Diagnoses – Alzheimers, Parkinsons and a stroke.
It’s interesting that when I started my company, a big part of it was ensuring that the older generation in our area (Oakville, South Mississauga and Burlington) would have the help that they needed to be able to stay in their own homes, surrounded by familiar people and things. Our services (we hope) ensured that seniors could live comfortably, with dignity and allow their families to rest assured that they were well taken care of. I carried on blindly thinking that my parents would be the model children for this part of our service, living out their days in comfort at home, sipping lemonade on the verandah and reading books.
When my mother wrote to me last week to say that she had received a call that there was a bed at a nearby facility, and that my father was going to go there, it hit me hard. This vibrant, smiling, active man that I have known and counted on all my life, was being sent away. At least, that was my first thought. I understand, these facilities are there to help people, they have all of the infrastructure in place for people to have social time, family time, and the extra medical care and attention that they need. I know all that, but it’s not his home. No amount of pictures on the walls or trinkets on the desktop will make this little 12 x 10 room “home” for him. I had to figure out how to make this transition work for everyone, coordinate with siblings on opposite sides of the country, and remember at all times what was most important, my father and his well-being.
Tomorrow is the day, he will wake up in the home he has known for 25 years, and will go to bed in a white room, facing a parking lot, with a few pictures on the walls of his family to keep him company. But my 15 year old daughter will come by to read to him, my 12 year old daughter I hope to have by also to fill the room with her endless positive chatter, and I plan to speak with my almost 18 year old son to bring him by. Perspective will be the key. Work will always be there, but I will be spending less time at it, and more time with my Dad. I understand that the ideal of growing old in your own home is a great thing to strive for, but realize that at some point, whatever is best for all involved comes into play. I will read to him, I will sing with him, and I will put more pictures on the walls, memories of the life that has been so full, so vibrant, and so important to so many.
I will continue to help him live comfortably in his new home.