Friday, March 22, 2013

Memories of Memory Care

I visited Sunrise Assisted Living of Santa Monica today, for days of auld lang syne (for days of old long since gone).  

My mother lived there from 2004 through April, 2008.  I visited her often and knew all the caregivers and all the residents of the third floor, which is "Memory Care..."  for those who have lost their memory but are otherwise fairly healthy.

All the caregivers I knew have moved on.  Only Angela, whom I met in October 2011 at the Memory Walk for Alzheimer's Disease, was there today.   Marnie, J.R., and others aren't there any more, but I'm still in touch with them through Facebook.

All the residents I knew so well have moved on too--to greener pastures.

Regina died a month ago--gentle, dignified soul from Latvia or Lithuania, who could speak several languages.

Betty White died a few years ago.  Her daughter and I visited our mothers and talked occasionally.

Verma, from Claremont, another sweet person with dignity and a gentle spirit, African-American, is gone.  I remember her two daughters.

I felt sad to be in that building where my mother lived her last four years and died... I looked in her room, now occupied by someone else.

Being there is a reminder that my own years are numbered.

Teach us so to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. --Psalm 90:12  

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

My Mother's Birthday

Evelyn with Roz's chihuahua, Irie
March 12 will always be my mother's birthday.  

I went to dinner with my daughter and mentioned this anniversary.

It has been almost five years since she died in April 2008.  In the normal course of my life, I don't think about her often, but on holidays and on her birthday, the full force of those last years of caring for her returns to me.  

Her humor and her strong desire to be with us is still vivid in my mind.  She would not want to return to Sunrise after spending Christmas or Easter with us.  

Once when I told her I was driving to Colorado, her home, she demanded to know: "Is there any good reason why I can't go with you?"

Well, yes, several good reasons: the wheelchair, the incontinence, the need for oxygen at the high altitude, the constant care (probably too much for me).  Of course, she didn't remember those things--she just remembered that she belonged in Colorado.

She would have turned 94 this year--but she would not have wanted to live with limited capacity and with caregivers bathing her, feeding her, and changing her Depends.  

Thus it is well that she is gone, but the mystery of someone being fully involved in life and then suddenly absent still haunts me.  

This is the human condition: we have a limit... our lives have a beginning and an end.

So I'll continue to continue to pretend
My life will never end
And flowers never bend
In the rainfall...