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Letter From Home 10/29/09

October 29, 2009

James and I finally made the decision. 

In the end it was made silently in each of our minds Wednesday while we were outside; James planting more bulbs for spring while I was raking the maple tree leaves that covered the lawn.  Under gray skies we were silent as we worked while ruminating on the facts that had been in front of  us for months.  Once back  in the house we gave voice to our thoughts.  We decided that it was time to have our friend with Alzheimer’s placed into an assisted living facility.

It was not a decision that was made in haste, or without much research and reflection.

The day was one we knew would come at some point.  But as friends who wished to see this elderly man have as much independence for as long as possible it was a hard decision to finally make.  But as his power-of-attorneys we also had a higher obligation that necessitated we act in the manner we did.  Once James and I had talked I picked the  phone up to start the process in a formal way. 

One of the things I like to do is ‘work the phones’ and during the many months of researching avenues to get the best care for our friend, or finding resources or programs that could benefit him, I was often calling folks to make appointments or gain additional insight. So it was natural that I would call the facility that we had agreed upon late this summer when the time came, as the one we would eventually have our friend reside in.

Over the summer of 2009  James and I visited countless living facilities and memory care units, and as eager as they all were for our business we had one over-riding requirement that went unspoken except to each other.  Could the place in question be one where at the end of a visit with our friend we could leave knowing he was in good hands and have no guilt about walking out the door?  I would like to say all those we visited met our needs.  But I can not.  While some private-pay places were extremely nice the economic reality disqualified them from our purpose.  Among the others only one met the standards we sought.  It was that place that received my call on late Wednesday afternoon.

When I placed the phone back down at the end of the call it all hit me hard.  I was professional  while on the line, but this was not just another call I had made for housing such as when I found my niece an apartment in Madison.  While James and I have been consciously aware of the consequences of each action we needed to take during this long process, I must say  the emotional rush after this call took me by surprise.  Tears welled in my eyes, and I thought again how absolutely unforgiving this damned disease is. 

The facility told me we could come and pick out which apartment type setting we wished to put on hold for our friend.  Today we did that, and discovered that among all the rain clouds there was one ray of sun shining for us.  For weeks we knew there was a balcony unit at this site, and just hoped that it was still available.  Looking somewhat  to the southwest we knew the sunsets would color the sky.  So today we started the long paper route that will conclude at some point in the days to come with the actual move. 

I have long-held the memory of Pat Nixon making sure that every item of  President Nixon was moved to San Clemente so that the  morning after the resignation when the day dawned the first thing that greeted Dick’s eyes were the things he had known in the White House.  We have assembled a team of movers, helpers, and friends so that books, desk, plants, pictures and all sorts of memories will be assembled in the new place to greet our friend when he arrives. 

Over the months our friend has asked what other people feel like when they grow older and have problems.  Among other things I have mentioned that they are probably pleased to know that someone ‘has their back’.  That is what James and I have always felt our mission was over this past year.   Not having dependants, while being young and having plenty of energy, allows James and myself to invest our time and emotion into this matter.  It has been a rough journey at times, and the learning curve has shown us that there are always news things to learn.  In the end, however, I hope what we have done over the past 24 hours, and all the leg work of the past months,  will allow our friend to bask in some glorious sunsets on his balcony as Nixon was able to enjoy upon his return to California.

  1. January 9, 2019 11:46 AM

    All the best, Sally, and keep me posted. I know this is not an easy time, but with step by step planning it doe,s and can work out, as best as can be expected. That I can promise you.

  2. Sally permalink
    January 9, 2019 7:29 AM

    My partner and I stumbled on this story while searching for ways to assist in the family matter which has become our responsibility. The tender way you approached the move and the way you worked to make it seamless is most encouraging and one that we will try and follow. Thank you from Denver.

  3. January 2, 2019 10:28 PM

    Thanks, Leslie. I am glad you found this site and have read some of my personal reflections. Have a nice evening.

  4. Leslie permalink
    January 2, 2019 8:35 PM

    Read your Letter about your coffee mug and then have read some of the others you have written. Simply touching even though I do not know you or the others in the columns. But they are mighty touching and so real.

  5. Rolly permalink
    November 2, 2009 6:28 PM

    Here in Green Bay there is no shortage of Mark’s ramblings on all sorts of places in newspapers and such on the internet. But with the help of my grandson today I am able to put this link to his picture so you can see what he looks like. I think what he wrote was awful. I started reading your blog when Father Cornell died and you did a nice article on him. He was a neighbor of my uncle many years ago. My grandson knows more about computers and stuff so he was able to find this. He told me that instead of writing so many complaints on the internet Mark should excercise more. I know he runs his mouth often at church too, and many suffer him in silence.

  6. Lori permalink
    October 30, 2009 4:20 PM

    One is left to wonder…when is it that Mark actually PRACTICES his religion???

  7. sammy permalink
    October 30, 2009 3:48 PM

    Mark has been banned from the Isthmus too, along with several other sites. You have done right by keeping him off your blog, and for obvious reasons.

    As to your time and help with your friend, you and James are fine folks indeed.

  8. Mark Phillips permalink
    October 30, 2009 9:43 AM

    Editor’s Note…

    Only one person has been banned from commenting on my site. That person is Mark Phillips from Green Bay. Though knowing this he still sends almost daily comments, all which resemble the one below. I just delete them. He has let it be known over time that he is a devout Catholic, very much pro-life, and pro-family. So today, with that background, I give what Mark has wanted. A chance to post a comment on my blog.

    How is that pro-family thing going, Mark? Enjoy your moment in the sun.


    OH MY GOD could you be any more melodramatic? what a nauseating piece of drivel.

  9. Ferrell Gummitt permalink
    October 30, 2009 8:36 AM

    Deke: You and James showed a lot of compassion in finding the right place for your friend. It sounds like you did a great job and that you indeed had his back.

    I am sure he will have plenty of glorious sunsets to bask in looking forward.

    And he will have you and James to thank.

    PS: Thanks again for the People of Walmart website, the only other time I laugh so hard is watching “The Simpsons”.

  10. Lori permalink
    October 30, 2009 12:07 AM

    Can’t imagine how you are feeling today…thanks for caring. Give a yell should you need a van.

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