Dave and Jim expect to leave anytime. They have shipped out 400 men from our
base so far. We are hardened to it, and to me if we are ever going to win this
war, let’s make a big push and get it over. I mean that’s the only practical
baby stands up now. I wish it was us dear and I wasn’t in the Army. I like kids
about that age.
we have a lot to expect from life. You say, “For us I guess it isn’t so
terrible because we already have happiness and our love. All we need is a home
together, and a family to make our life brim full.” I agree we are as in love
as two people could be.
our happiness together, I think we have had a very small share of that,
considering what we will have.
love you with all my heart.
Annette and I knew
this move would be unlike any other. There would be no opportunity for our
parents to give input, argue or disagree. It was fact we had no choice but to
move them. This was certainly not a move any of us wanted. No other course of action existed.
With wind chills
well below freezing, I picked my sister up at the airport late on the evening
of December 21, 2008. While driving home, we discussed how we should tell our
parents about this move. We were quite certain no one at Lakeview Reserve had
mentioned they had to move out. Our primary goal was to move them lovingly,
calmly, efficiently, and without upset. We decided we’d play it by ear the next
I felt sick and
threw up during the night. Annette tossed and turned. The wind howled all night at
fifty miles per hour. The freezing torrent outside matched our internal
turmoil. We woke bleary-eyed, but resolute––knowing we had no choice but to do
what we dreaded.
By morning the
wind had died down slightly and was replaced by a heavy freezing rain. During
our drive to Lakeview Reserve, we lamented the regression in Ed and Ibby since
we moved them out of their home. Two years ago, they had the cognitive ability
of about fifth graders. They had basic, but rapidly dwindling understanding of
dates, time, and money.
of us had been able to discuss that move, and Mom and Dad had some ability to
understand how their lives were changing. They could consciously control their
emotional reaction to that move.
Six months ago, at
the time we moved them from independent living to assisted living, they had
about as much understanding of life as my third grade students. They didn’t
have full cognizance of time, dates, or money, but they could speak and still
had limited control their emotional reactions.
But now, six short
months later, the disease had reverted them to the mentality of about a first
grader. Annette and I were making this decision and completing this move for them,
just as a parent would make choices for the welfare a six or seven year old
child. These eighty-eight year old first graders would not be able to control
their emotional reaction to this move. We just hoped and prayed they’d be able
to retain some of the happiness which had sustained them all of their lives
even as they approached life in a locked Alzheimer’s unit.
As Annette and I
arrived at Lakeview Reserve around 9:00 a.m. on the morning of December 22nd
we got out of my car and gulped some deep winter breaths. Our hearts drummed as
the elevator took us to their apartment on the second floor. We tapped on the
door. Mom answered and welcomed us in. It seemed odd that Mom and Dad were not
surprised to see my sister from Florida. I think they were already losing the
awareness of her geographic distance. Maybe in their confused minds, my sister
and I blended together and they couldn’t distinguish one of us from the
We sat down and faked happy
conversation, discussing the weather and the Christmas season, for about 30
Then Annette and I
made eye contact, stood, and rummaged through Mom and Dad’s closet for their
winter coats. We brought the coats to the couch where they were sitting, asked
them to stand, and started bundling them––saying only that we were taking them
to live somewhere where they’d receive more care. They did not speak, but
looked at us with puzzled questions on their face, with the innocence of
children––lambs led to slaughter––no mention of non-compliance.
On that bitter
cold, sloppy morning, with wind chills hovering around freezing, Mom and Dad
huddled in their winter coats, as we loaded them along with their walkers into
my Jeep and drove them across town.
The new staff
greeted them as we walked into The Lodge. Their new room was warm and cozy,
despite the ugly weather outside. We took their coats off and settled Dad into
the plaid chair and Mom into the flowered chair, visiting with them for about
20 minutes. Mom commented, “This place reminds me of the farm.” I think the small
delicate print on the wallpaper must have conjured up thoughts from her youth.
Aides came to walk
them to lunch and gave Annette and me a signal to leave, nodding, indicating,
“Don’t worry, everything will be all right.” We excused ourselves, assuring Mom
and Dad we’d return with their things soon, knowing we had much work to do back
at Lakeview Reserve.
Aides released us
through the locked doors and Annette and I held hands, leaning on each other until
we escaped through the front doors, then scurried back to my Jeep.
We returned to
Lakeview Reserve and began the whirlwind of completely dismantling Mom and
Dad’s apartment in two days. Annette and I divided and conquered, she on one end of
the apartment, I on the other. We pitched, sorted, and bagged anything
A couple of times
each day we’d rush back to The Lodge to check on Mom and Dad, taking small
amounts of favorite, comfortable clothes, a few pairs of shoes, and basic
necessities to their new room at The Lodge. Now, at the end of our parents’
lives, their existence was reduced to a couple of armloads of clothes and
We’d ask the staff
how they were acclimating. Each time we arrived, for two straight days, we
found them sitting bundled in their winter coats. We had to keep asking them to
take their coats off. Aides told us Mom and Dad continued to put their coats
back on saying, “We don’t live here. We’re leaving soon.”