Over the next few weeks, I brought up our trip occasionally. Some days Mom thought her sister was coming to see her at Sunshine Villa. Other times she repeated the story about sharing the good news with Esther. “She was so delighted and surprised,” my mother informed me, every time. Esther had learned a thing or two about talking to someone with dementia. And for Mom? It was as if the trip was continually being planned for the first time. A week before we were set to depart, I sat down with Rosa Fernandez, Mom’s RA or resident assistant, at Sunshine Villa. Rosa is the person who helps Mom with “personal care.” And on this trip, that job would be mine. So I wanted to know what was required. “Your Mom is very easy,” Rosa began. And then she told me about their routine in the morning. Rosa ... [Continue Reading]
This is the second post in a series about my trip to Florida with my mother.... A few days after I bought our tickets—paying an extra $150 per seat so we could sit in the bulkhead, right next to the bathroom—I brought up our trip to Mom. “Hey, Mom, in a few weeks, we’re going to Florida.” Mom looked up at me and beamed. Then her face filled with consternation and she asked, “How many grandchildren do I have? Really? I wasn’t sure I should ask. I wasn’t sure I wanted to know. Had we really sunk this low? “How many grandchildren do you think you have?” She thought for a moment, searching the mostly empty coffers of her memory. “Well, there’s Eli. And Lizzy. And ... [Continue Reading]
I debated whether to blog this trip and once I decided to, I wondered whether or not I could possibly call it a Virtual Vacation. This is clearly not going to be an exotic armchair adventure in Bali or a Scottish adventure or a travelogue through Mexico. It’s going to be a journey into old age in America. My partner Karyn and I are taking my elderly mother to Florida for one last visit to see her last surviving sibling, her sister Esther. It’s certainly much more of a mission of mercy than a vacation, but I am tired of compartmentalizing my life—the entertaining, exciting parts, the seductive lure of worldwide traveler, me as the adventurer, and me as the daughter, me as the last remaining lifeline for my aging mother. This trip is going to be an exploration of the lines where duty ... [Continue Reading]
My brother and I packed up my mother’s mobile home, #94 at DeAnza Mobile Home Park, in three days. We cleaned it out three weeks after I’d brought Mom in for a “trial” at Sunshine Villa, a trial I knew would last the rest of her life, if we were lucky. If we weren’t lucky, she could end up somewhere far, far worse.
Mom didn’t know that she was leaving her home for the last time. Because a month-long trial was all she could agree to. But in her case a month might as well have been a year. Her sense of time—except for the eternal now—and the far past, especially around the 1940’s—is pretty much non-existent. ... [Continue Reading]