This was the first official day of the "find new housing for Mom" project. Her stepson, Ed, and I met at the house for lunch and to start the conversation. It was a surprise to see the nice lunch she fixed, since she seems to have stopped fixing lunches for me. But give her a man to wait on and she becomes all coquettish again.
This is one of the HUGE benefits that I think is going to go along with moving her to somewhere more communal. Here world has shrunk so much in the last 3 years, with the increasing pain in her back. She sometimes takes a walk around the lagoon near her house, but I think she must spend the day sitting in a chair. Ed visits her, I visit her, a couple of other people visit her on a regular basis, but most of her time is spent alone. And she is always at her best in social situations, particularly when there is a man to talk to -- be it a friend her own age, her stepson, or her grandson. She just turns on the charm for a man...and generally speaking, after she has spent time talking to and waiting on a man, her memory is usually better for the rest of the day.
If we move her to a place where she will have the chance to interact with other people more frequently, see men around her, find new friends to play mah jong or cards with, I can only think that her memory loss is going to slow down. I know it will continue, but I really feel that being in a social environment is going to help.
So over lunch, we talked about what needed to be done. Ed said that we first need to assess her finances so we know how much we can afford. It turns out, I discovered that she has somewhat less than she told me she had, but it should still be adequate to see her comfortably settled for several years, unless she decides to break the longevity record in this country. There will also be income coming from the sale of her house, which will ease any financial concerns for a long time.
The second is more difficult, that being how to put together a list of recommended places to tour. We figure we can schedule tours around lunch time so we can get a free lunch in the bargain! We know the first place where we are going to start, where Ed's grandmother lived the last several years of her life. Because of her memories of visiting the old women every few days, my mother thinks she probably would not like to live there, but it would give us a "practice tour" and get a feel for how much money places in Marin County are charging.
I felt we had a productive meeting and will meet with Ed again after we have visited a few places.
He left and I stayed and she collapsed in her chair and started the script we follow every time I come to visit her. "Oh god how am I going to get rid of all this crap?" I really wanted to leave immediately. I am so tired of the "all this crap" conversations. I made my usual reply that she would leave it all behind when she moves and Ed and I will take care of getting rid of it. Then she looks across the room at her refrigerator, which has a few magnets on it. "Just for example, LOOK at that refrigerator. How am I going to get rid of all that crap?"
I was astonished. I finally said, "if that bothers you that much, I can clean it up in a minute. I'll just remove everything and the refrigerator door will be clean again."
"Well, what will you do with it all?" she asked
"I'll throw it away, of course," I answered.
"Oh, I don't want you to do that," she replied, saying that maybe somebody would want it and they should have a chance to ask for it. Magnets. Refrigeator magnets that are driving her crazy because it's "all that crap" but she won't let me throw them away because she really wants to give them to someone. Sigh.
I did leave early. She was looking through papers and there didn't seem to be room for conversation. I was also exhausted and it was Walt's birthday. We were going out to dinner with Ned and Marta, so I just told my mother goodbye and got on the road.
Next week we are going to pull up comfortable chairs to her 2-drawer file cabinet and I am going through every file folder to see what is there, what can be gotten rid of, and understand all that is important to keep. This is more for me than for her. It will, yes, get rid of some crap, but it will be unseen crap, so probably not solve her problem. The following week we will take a tour of the first facility.
I got home before 5 and hoped to get in a nap, but did not fall asleep. Walt and I drove over to Ned's and the four of us walked to a nearby Japanese restaurant, where we had a nice dinner. Walt got calls on his cell phone from Jeri and from his sister and missed a call from Tom and Brianna, but got the voice mail message. When we got home, his brother called, so, figuring that he had now heard from everyone, he announced that he was now a year older and needed to get to bed earlier, so headed off to bed.