It’s crazy how much can change in one year. Back in January I reflected on my 2018 and all the adventures I went on, and one thing I didn’t really focus on was mom going into the Long Term Care home. I touched on it while reminiscing a few weeks later, but I wanted to dedicate an entire post to this journey our family has been on over the last year.
May 15 2019 marked one year of my mom being out of my childhood home, and into a long term care home. One year of me waking up every morning and not finding her sitting on the couch watching game show channels like she did every day. One year of me seeing her spot empty at the dinner table, where sometimes she would sit hours before dinner, waiting for dinner to be ready. One year of trips to another city to visit her as often as I could. One year of me getting to feel what it really means to miss somebody.
So much has changed since her first day in that home. On May 15th, my Timehop app showed me memories from her first day when we moved her in. Her room was so bare. And there she was, sitting in the chair by the window looking out to the courtyard. In a chair. That’s a big thing, as now she is wheelchair bound. Before moving into the home, she was beginning to get really unsteady on her feet. She fell over a couple of times, and so we had picked up a travel wheelchair for if we were out at the mall, or even grocery shopping. Once she was in the home, we invested in a much more heavy duty wheelchair, and now that is where she spends her days.
When she was first in the home, she was more attentive with us. She would play her little handheld puzzles, and would smile a lot more. She still smiles, but they’ve become more rare in the last couple of months, and so when she does send a smile my way, it nearly brings me to tears. But happy tears. Thankful tears. She’s still in there, but she’s just a lot quieter.
The year has come with ups and downs. One of the things that we had been warned of before her going into the home was that she would change. Making a change to any Alzheimer’s patient’s routine is huge. The routine is what keeps them in a good hold. You change that – aka move them to a new place – it changes everything. And it did. It changed mom. I think it changed all of us.
So much has changed over the last year, but my love for that woman has only grown. It’s really true what they say – absence makes the heart grow fonder. Some days I miss her more than others. Some days I’m angrier than others. This last year has taught me so much, and I feel like I’ve learned so much about compassion being in that home so often, seeing not only my mother but every other person in there as well. It opens your eyes to an entirely different side and stage of life.
To round it off, I thought I’d touch on what this last year has taught me the most. Cherish your loved ones more than you ever thought possible. It doesn’t have to be your mother, or your father – but find those that you call family, and really love them. Tell them you love them. Embrace it when they tell you they love you. You never know when they will stop being able to tell you they love you, or when they may not understand anymore than you love them.
Simply put, love unconditionally.