Paste on a Happy Face

Good news at Potomac. The doctor who makes house calls is in-network for Mom’s insurance. She can move in on Monday. I can move her stuff in over the weekend.

On Saturday, Bob and I ran errands, I picked up some things Mom would need at the new place and headed over to her apartment at Emeritus.

Mom was there with her caregiver. She was watching TV and enjoying herself. I told her she was going to be trying out a new place and I needed to pack some of her stuff. She asked about the accommodations and where her husband would be staying. “Where he always stays, Mom.”

I set about packing. I used her towels to wrap her framed photos and reused cartons that held the towels to pack her photo albums and other breakable stuff. In an attempt to help, she brought me some kitchen items, including a tray and some tea towels with a half-eaten apple inside. (I found another half-eaten apple in one of her closets). I quietly trashed the old fruit and asked Bob to start bringing the heavy stuff out to the car.

It was almost dinner time and Mom’s caregiver took her downstairs. I told them I’d find them and say good bye when we were leaving.

I packed two small cases with shoes and clothes. The toiletries, hygiene items, pillows and sheets could stay until Monday. I’d pack those once Mom was on her way to Potomac.

Mom was dining in the “memory wing” where she chatted happily with other residents about being from Brooklyn and how it differed from life on Uranus. (Okay, I made up the Uranus part). I gave the caregiver a hug, thanked her for taking good care of my Mom and told her I’d be happy to refer her. I gave Mom a kiss and met Bob at the car.

We went to Potomac and shlepped the stuff up the stairs to Mom’s room. Bob couldn’t bear it and went back to the car to wait. I unpacked the pictures and displayed them on the shelf above the bed. I hung her terry robe and pink hoodie on pegs under the shelf, placed her pink slippers by the foot of the bed. I arranged her shoes in the wardrobe and realized I’d forgotten hangers. But I found places for everything I’d brought and there was room for more. So hangers, toiletries and some more clothing items would come on Monday.

I introduced myself to the weekend staff and looked around. Nice quiet bunch. I saw one man who looked nothing like my father, but he seemed friendly, robust and the type of guy my mother pasted “Herby” faces on. I’ll bet he’ll do just fine.

On the way home, I asked Bob what troubled him. He felt bad for my mother. It’s the end of the line.

I set up an ambulance to bring Mom to Potomac on Monday around 11 am. That way, I didn’t have to answer a lot of questions; I could go to her apartment at Emeritus and finish up packing without half-eaten apples. And she could get to her new place in time for lunch.

When I got to Emeritus on Monday after Mom’s departure, I heard from the staff that she had been in great spirits. I got to her apartment and, bless her heart, she had tried to pack. A box marked “fragile” had all kinds of crap in it: costume jewelry, a bag of slips, the original appraisal of her diamond engagement ring. Nothing breakable. I chose some things she might actually use and threw them in a suitcase.

Going through the Potomac check list, I made sure I had all the required items. I put aside stuff I’d lent her for retrieval some other day. I got a trolley, loaded it up, picked up the last of Mom’s mail (People Magazine) and packed the car.

I had a dentist appointment at 2, so I stopped at a diner for lunch and then headed to my dentist. While in the chair, I got a picture text message from the director of the home. Holy crap. Mom had attached herself to the man I thought she would. The grin on her face said it all. I haven’t seen her that happy in years.

Mom Finds Her Man

Mom and "Herby"

Due to an administrative snafu, my dentist appointment took longer than expected and I didn’t get to Potomac until 5:30. When I got there, Mom was poring over a binder, wearing big glasses (she had left hers behind at Emeritus). I asked her where she got the glasses. “From my husband.” She nodded over to the fellow in the picture. “He’s Herby. Herbert. However you want me to say it. I have documented proof!”

Putting on her own glasses, which I had retrieved from her old place, she showed me the binder. It was information I had provided about her; contact numbers, insurance, doctors. Nothing about Herby. But she was sure.

Okay, Mom. I’m happy for you. You enjoy yourself and I’ll go up to your room to unpack.

I shlepped the bags and cases up to her room and started unpacking. One of the ladies brought me a bookcase for Mom’s photo albums. She said Mom fondly reminded her of a former resident and it would be nice to have someone lively there for a change.

As I made the bed, Mom appeared. She sat in a chair and asked “Did you see what she did for me?” You like the pictures, Mom? I did that for you. Oh yes, she just LOVED the room. She said she cried tears of joy when she first saw it.

She chatted on about her wonderful day as I continued making the bed, hanging her clothes and putting everything away. The bus ride over was magical and lucky. Her dinner was delicious. She loves everyone she’s met. The house is beautiful (what, this one’s not a boat?) and she doesn’t ever want to leave.

Another gal came up to check on Mom. She moves so quickly (!), the gal was relieved to find Mom with me. I told her it was OK and I would help her back down when I was done.

Mom wanted to bring her wedding album down to share with the others. It’s a big, heavy book and I offered to take it for her. She insisted on taking it herself. That and her cane, which I’d also just brought. I went down the stairs with her. She dropped the book with a loud thud. Attendants ran to the stairs. “Just a book, not me!” said Mom, cheerfully. I picked up the book and handed it back to her once she got down to the landing. She scampered to the table and started describing the pictures to anyone who would look.

The wife of a male resident introduced herself. Mom was sure this man wanted to “get into her pants,” but the woman assured me he has the mental capacity of an infant. “I figure Mom’s about 17 at this point.” Mom grinned and said “It’s a great place to be.”

As Mom showed off her pictures, I spoke with the wife. Her husband has been in this condition for some time. She told me she visits evenings after work and would I maybe like to have dinner some evening? I’ll take her up on that.

Meanwhile, I learned that Mom’s new boyfriend does not have dementia. He’s deaf and had been misdiagnosed with dementia because of his hearing deficiency. But he and his family are happy with his placement at Potomac, so he’s stayed. He really seems to like Mom. And now he gets to be Mom’s new honey. And that’s sweet for everyone involved.


About traceysl

Digital Artist, creative technologist, problem-solving lover of life. Having cared for my mother, who died on April 14, 2015 after a long fight with dementia, I have refocused professionally to helping others through my experience. I have started a company called Grand Family Planning to provide unique Family Support Services. In this way, I share my knowledge and give meaning to the tragic turn of my parents' journey through the misery of dementia.
This entry was posted in aging, caregiving, delusions, dementia, Family, life changes, psychosis. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Paste on a Happy Face

  1. Pingback: The Warrior | Tracey's Caregiver Blog

  2. Pingback: Another Moving Experience | Tracey's Caregiver Blog

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