My Blog

November 1, 2017

Elderly Mothers and The Big Move

Blessings on family. What do other people do when they don’t have family to help? I was talking to a friend yesterday and she mentioned a neighbor who only has an Autistic son to help her. Her brother and sister have written her off, and no one comes to check on her. Her son won’t let her answer the door or the phone, so she is cut off completely. Scary.

Another friend in Austin has reached the point where she needs to leave her home. She is such a hoarder that she is embarrassed and won’t let anyone in her house. Now that the property is sold, however, she has to move. She still doesn’t want to give up anything and it may take an intervention to help get her out of there.

Mom is far more fortunate. Brother, Sister and Brother-in-law showed up from places near and far to help move her back to the trailer. Years ago, I knew Mom was going to need a place to live eventually and ours was the most logical place, much as my husband objected. We live out in the country on ten acres with only one neighbor.

I put a 60- by 16- foot, 2-bedroom, 2-bath, used but refurbished, trailer on our property. We are surrounded by woods and pastures, so it was easy to tuck it in under the big oaks. The three big front windows look out over the flower-filled garden, and Mom’s five vegetable beds. It would be nice if she could work in them again, but not much chance of that.

She has stayed at the trailer, with and without husband Al, many times in her comings and goings from Florida to the North. Now, it looks like it will be her permanent home. No more wandering. The two men put her in the wheel chair and carried her, very laboriously, up the steps and into the trailer. I doubt if she will ever leave again. No more doctor visits, no more emergency room, no more hospital. The Home Health Care nurse will have to come here.

Off and on, she remembers this is her house. She didn’t question where she was because we were all around her. She seemed perfectly comfortable once we got her into bed as long as Brother was talking to her. She sort-of remembered how to get to the bathroom. I do need to put an additional hand-hold on the door for her to steady herself as she reaches for the toilet. (Done)

She did notice all the jelly jars that are going to the Church Bazaar. It is hard to hide 200 jars of jelly. I admit that while Mom was gone, my church group and I used the trailer for jelly-making. It is wonderfully convenient, perfectly laid out and we can go off and leave all the jelly-making materials out for the next time.

Last year, when Mom arrived for her yearly visit, she was much more compos mentis. She made no bones about not liking having 200 jars of jelly stacked everywhere in “her” house. Admittedly, they were all over the table-tops, in the larder and on the counter in front of her big dictionary. She decided, suddenly, that she needed to get to her dictionary. She was suggesting, not so subtly, that I move the jelly jars. I did. This time, however, she doesn’t even know she has a dictionary. The jars will stay, and she’ll have to wait until the Bazaar.

Thank goodness, Mom is not a hoarder. Even in her mental state, she kept saying “Throw things out!” And Sister is great at going through her clothes and pitching all the old and worn out or unwearable. Since I don’t have to dress her for breakfast anymore, she can stay in her pajamas and bathrobe all day long if she likes. Sister says she should stay in loose sweat pants and shirt although pants and toilets don’t go well together.

We also got rid of her art supply box. As I’ve mentioned before, she always dabbled in art. She has done Mandalas while waiting outside the YMCA pool in Florida for Al. In Key West she made papier-maché pelicans to sell. This time she had laboriously formed several round, orange-sized objects, glued together out of newspaper, that had to be dried in the oven. Her intent was to make heads of Donald Trump. They won’t get made now. The box is gone to Goodwill.

We also got rid of her sewing bag. She has sewn her clothing, by hand, for years. The nightgown she wears, made of a thin gauzy red and gold fabric, was hand-stitched, each seam edged in gold trim. She has (make that had), several dresses that she sewed out of colorful, print bed sheets. The dresses lasted for years, but they are stained and worn now. Although they are still, technically, wearable, it’s best to let them go.

So, Mom is settling in. It appears that she wanders around the trailer in the night, but she can’t get out. Unlike the Facility, I don’t have to worry about anyone finding her wandering in the halls or sitting in the Ice Cream Parlor waiting for breakfast at 5 am. Since I leave her at night, I think it is best if I get a Nanny-cam to keep an eye on her. But I get to fix the breakfast.

It is pleasant to get to sit and have breakfast with her at the table now, instead of just looking on as I had to do at the Facility. Of course, the down side is that I have to (get to) do the cooking. My cooking skills tend to be a little slap-dash. I start working on the toast and link sausages while the scrambled eggs are cooking. Which means I don’t stir the eggs enough. Which means I have to chop up the egg into chunks. Hopefully, I won’t burn them.

And getting all the food on the plate at the same time, hot and ready to eat, isn’t always easy. The eggs get done before the links, or the toast is finished before the eggs, or I forget the toast while I cut up the fruit. For myself, I usually just put a bowl of oatmeal in the microwave. Now, I am much more appreciative of the nicely plated food at the Facility.

I did make some stew that I could freeze in small containers. Easy to defrost and heat. And easy to hand her a spoon and the container for supper. Last night was spaghetti that I had frozen once before with garlic toast and a bowl of fruit. Okay, okay, I know. Veggies. But Sister is coming today and she can cook all the veggies she likes. I’m headed for Boston.

About Caroline Castillo Crimm
Retired Professor Emeritus from Sam Houston State University, interested in writing novels and speaking about topics such as the history of Latin American. Would like to share the AMAZING world of the 18th century in Northern New Spain, that's Spanish Texas and Mexico!
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