When our 94-year-old Mom, otherwise known as “Lady Renee,” told us, eight months after Dad died and in no uncertain terms, that her life was “crazy,” that she had had enough of state-of-the-art Mount St. Vincent, that she wanted “to live with a family that loved her,” she got our attention. And fortunately, one sister among eight siblings not only had room, she had time and energy, and in fact a great desire to have Mom come live with her and her husband David. Just one catch: Mom would have to move from Seattle, where most of her children live, to Baton Rouge, where only Paula resided.
So we made that happen. After holding a weekend blessing ceremony and party for her.
Mom and Paula go out to lunch with David on a daily basis, sharing one meal for the two of them.
Paula tells us that Mom wants to help, so she has her setting the table and chopping vegetables for their evening meal. I have a sense that using her hands for little tasks keeps Mom connected and grounded, as well as feeling useful, which I do think is what most of us, no matter our age, need to feel. Anything less is dehumanizing, “crazy.”
It’s been a month now, and so far the only hitch came on day three, when Mom announced that she wanted to go home and Paula gently reminded her that she was home, that this was her new home.
Meanwhile, when people ask, Mom tells them she is from Minnesota (where she was born and grew up). She seems to be bypassing her memories of 20 years in Seattle entirely now, and, Paula says, “rarely mentions any of her children by name.” Sob!
I send her one card a week. Trying to find funny ones.
Which reminds me. Just found this post on fb. It’s supposed to be funny, but I find it deeply revealing and quite interesting as a growing-old option for those who have both a yen to travel and aren’t connected to a caring family.
About 2 years ago my wife and I were on a cruise through the western Mediterranean aboard a Princess liner. At dinner we noticed an elderly lady sitting alone along the rail of the grand stairway in the main dining room. I also noticed that all the staff, ships officers, waiters, busboys, etc., all seemed very familiar with this lady.
I asked our waiter who the lady was, expecting to be told that she owned the line, but he said he only knew that she had been on board for the last four cruises, back to back.
As we left the dining room one evening I caught her eye and stopped to say hello. We chatted and I said, “I understand you’ve been on this ship for the last four cruises”. She replied, “Yes, that’s true.” I stated, “I don’t understand” and she replied, without a pause, “It’s cheaper than a nursing home”.
So, there will be no nursing home in my future. When I get old and feeble, I am going to get on a Princess Cruise Ship. The average cost for a nursing home is $200 per day. I have checked on reservations at Princess and I can get a long term discount and senior discount price of $135 per day. That leaves $65 a day for:
1. Gratuities which will only be $10 per day.
2. I will have as many as 10 meals a day if I can waddle to the restaurant, or I can have room service (which means I can have breakfast in bed every day of the week).
3. Princess has as many as three swimming pools, a workout room, free washers and dryers, and shows every night.
4. They have free toothpaste and razors, and free soap and shampoo.
5. They will even treat you like a customer, not a patient. An extra $5 worth of tips will have the entire staff scrambling to help you.
6. I will get to meet new people every 7 or 14 days.
7. T.V. broken? Light bulb need changing? Need to have the mattress replaced? No Problem! They will fix everything and apologize
for your inconvenience.
8. Clean sheets and towels every day, and you don’t even have to ask for them.
9. If you fall in the nursing home and break a hip you are on Medicare; if you fall and break a hip on the Princess ship they will upgrade you to a suite for the rest of your life.
Now hold on for the best! Do you want to see South America, the Panama Canal, Tahiti, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, or name where you want to go? Princess will have a ship ready to go. So don’t look for me in a nursing home, just call shore to ship.
PS. And don’t forget, when you die, they just dump you over the side at no charge.