Saturday, December 20, 2014

Notes from the Home - December 20, 2014

     Last week, Isabelle moved from her two-bedroom apartment in the B building to a room in Personal Care (nee Assisted Living). She had not been looking forward to the move, but now that it is done, she seems to have relaxed.
     A month ago, when she returned from her second week-long stay in hospice, Isabelle was told she should move to Personal Care. Arranging the move would take time, and she would need a caregiver with her twenty-four hours a day until she moved. From three thousand miles away, her daughter and son-in-law, who live in Oregon, worked out most of the details of the move.
     The caregiver helped Isabelle with showering and other necessary chores, for which Isabelle is extremely grateful. Mostly, however, Isabelle spends her days on the recliner watching television, and the caregiver spent her days on the loveseat watching Isabelle watch television. Living with a person to whom she was not married or otherwise related to took a toll on Isabelle's nerves. Having her relatives on the other side of the country handling her move was frustrating and at times left her feeling useless, a pawn in her own life.
     On a more positive note, Steve, her son-in-law, flew down from Oregon to supervise the move and do the heavy lifting and the not-so-heavy lifting. Between her age - Isabelle is eighty-eight - and her infirmities, Isabelle couldn't do much more than tell Steve what was to go with her, and what was to go wherever.
     Friday morning, I made my way over to Personal Care to see Isabelle in her new home. She was in her recliner, watching TV and smiling. She wasn't ecstatic about the move. The staff gets her up at seven and makes sure that she eats breakfast. Isabelle doesn't mind the breakfast, but she'd like to have it a little later. Then again, except for those times when she needs the staff's assistance, she has the room to herself.
     On the end table there was a picture of a blushing bride. At least I think she was blushing. The picture, taken in 1947, was in black-and-white.
     "I can honestly say Ralph and I never had a serious argument in all the sixty-six years we were married," Isabelle said. "Ralph proposed to me before he went overseas during World War II. I told him, 'no.' I didn't want to be tied to a ring, and I wasn't. While he was overseas, Ralph wrote every day. I wrote him about once a week. When he got back, he proposed again, and this time I accepted.
     "When his active obligation ended, Ralph went into the active reserve. A year or two later, he was called up and ended up making the Army his career. When he was called up, we wondered if going into the active reserve had been such a smart thing to do. But back then, the ninety bucks a month he got for being in the reserves helped a lot. And everything worked out well for us in the long run."

     Sunday morning was weird. I woke up around two-fifteen and spent the next forty-five minutes trying, without success, to go back to sleep. So I got up, got dressed and set about the task of solving Merl Reagle's Sunday crossword puzzle. Twenty minutes later, barely able to keep my eyes open, I bid Merl a fond adieu, crawled back into bed and immediately fell asleep. Shortly after six, my bladder roused me. I took care of business, got back into bed and slept until eight-thirty. Eight-thirty is two-and-a-half or three hours later than I usually get up. I went to bed at nine o'clock Saturday night, for Pete's sake, and I didn't feel sick or anything. Tis a mystery.
     Later, when Mickey's big hand was on the nine and his little hand was nudging the eleven, I had just gotten out of the shower and was standing naked between the wheelchair, the sink and the toilet, on the theory that if I fell I would fall against something, as opposed to falling onto the floor. As I toweled myself off, there came a knocking at my door. "Not a good time," I yelled. Another knock. "Who's there?" "The police." Now it was my turn to be silent. "Did you call the police?" "No, sir."
 "OK, thank you."
     Why the police were in the building remains a mystery. I was up front later in the day and asked Aliesha, who was working the desk. She said William had reported their presence, but she had no idea what they were doing here.
     Tee, a now former housekeeper at Covenant Woods, was fired last week. I found out one morning as I was cruising around the parking lot and Tee was heading home after dropping off Luke, her significant other, who works in the kitchen. She stopped, told me she'd been fired, but didn't say why. I said, I hoped she and Luke had a Merry Christmas despite the circumstances. In return, she offered an out-of-the-ordinary holiday wish. "You have a merry Christmas, too," she said. "And I hope you find yourself a woman. Someone to sit on your lap."

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