Caring for Mom

What happens if your Mom falls and no one is there to notice?

Mom had been living independently since 2001 when my dad passed away, first in apartments in Florida, and then relocating to Northern Virginia to be near my sister. At one point, living in Austin, I pitched Mom on moving to Austin to be near me. Mom said, “Oh Bryan, you may move around the world at some point.” Nostradamus, you have competition.

Tell, don’t ask

We knew we had to make some changes, but we were hesitant about how and what. My sister has always been amazing about caring for my mom, and thinking through what’s best. At Mom’s age, change is very difficult. After Mom’s last move, she was rattled and it seemed to affect her for months afterward. We regret that move — the pathway being well paved with good intentions but the net effect being Mom was worse off.

Grinding through the logistics

I did Mom’s last move myself, with the help of family. Not this time! We hired Smooth Transitions, who specialise in Senior moves. They did an amazing job of replicating Mom’s old apartment in her new one, to minimise confusion for Mom and minimise frustration for me.

It’s all happening. Smooth Transitions packs up the old apartment.

But Light a newer Wilderness My Wilderness has made

After Smooth Transitions (that name should really belong to a DJ who mixes easy listening) unpacked the last box, Mom’s place looked great. Remarkably similar to her old apartment, and so I’d hoped “It will minimise the feeling of change”.

Momento Mommi

Mom’s memory ranges from good to bad. She does not resemble the people I’ve met with Alzheimer’s, which her own mother passed away from, but memory still presents a challenge

Mom reads the paper and watches the news every day, but sometimes doesn’t know what day it it.

The Storm Inside

My own emotions were ever-shifting, tangled, and impossible to rationalise. I would find myself yelling at the Audibook on AI that reverberated through the Ford Ecosport I had rented. On a few nights I’d have a Spotify playlist as I navigated 20 miles of back roads to a basement Airbnb, and I’d start crying without explanation — at a Billy Joel song, of all things.

I hiked through a local park one morning, filled with anger and frustration at no one in particular.

Being Mortal

  1. Do you understand your current situation?
  2. What do you hope for? What do you want to happen?
  3. What are you afraid of?

You do what you can, because the alternative is worse

I’ve read and watched so many trite endings lately that I won’t try and wrap this up with a bow here. The Goldfinch rightly proclaims:

Thanksgiving at a German restaurant. Imagine if the Native Americans had traded corn for bratwurst.
I did have moments with Joy during my trip. (Joy is the name of my sister’s dog)
Mom proudly stands next to the poinsettia that my brother sent her for her new apartment

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