Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Transitions and Milestones

It's been a long, emotional day; one part "transition" and one part celebration - but both involved milestones. MIH and I moved her 98 year old mom from a long term care facility that had all of the trappings  of a "nice place", however they were all cosmetic. After weeks of falls, bruises and finally a fracture, MIH got the call that after being wait listed for three and a half years, a facility that is just 10 minutes away from her had an immediate opening.

We packed Nana up and drove the hour and half across the city to the little town that MIH lives in. I had Nana in the passenger seat beside me, with a white knuckle grip on the arm rest (her, not me). She kept asking me over and over again how long it would be, and commenting "it's a long trip". She was nervous with the cars on the highway whipping past, and she muttered "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus" repeatedly under her breath. I responded,"C'mon Nana - my driving isn't that bad".

Nana has lost most of her memories and she can't name her daughter, but that doesn't stop her from kissing her, pulling her close and saying "I love you". Nana can feel the love and kindness her daughter delivers and once in a while she blurts out her name. Today she exclaimed to the recreation coordinator, "I'm a mother!"

But with her Alzheimer's, she is trapped in a limbo state with no recognition, minimal communication ability, and no way to to tell us what she is truly feeling. She is in a labyrinth of her own mind.

After hours of assessments, foot care, medical exams,  interviews and unpacking, we left Nana in her new environment to start the process of adjusting. It reminded me of the first time I left my daughters in daycare  and left quickly without looking back (well, maybe just a peek). She smiled weakly but her eyes were somewhat blank and confused.

MIH talked about how these next few days will not be easy ones for Nana as she settles into a brand new environment, but there is peace in knowing that she will be cared for by people who smile and call her name; who seem to understand what it means to honour our elders; and that she will be safe.

MIH has been in turmoil over the treatment of her mom and the phone call that signaled the change was nothing short of miraculous in its timing. I hope MIH can rest easy now knowing she has done her very best for her mom.

Part two of the day was our famjam to celebrate my niece's graduation from university. We are so proud of her tenacity and accomplishment and we gathered as a tribe to celebrate her milestone. As a close family, we share the joys and pains - when one of us hurts, we all hurt. And likewise, when there is an achievement,  it is the success of all. My niece glowed with the love that filled the room to overflowing. She is low key and often has to share the spotlight so tonight was a refreshing opportunity to make the night all about her.

Final Note: In my true to forgetful nature ... I almost forgot that it was my sister's wedding anniversary. And if my memory serves me correctly (don't count on it) it is creeping up to the 20 year mark. Congratulations Mich and Dar; you show us how a marriage can survive and thrive with determination and work. : )

The day was long, but oh so satisfying! So many changes but so many things to celebrate. Life is good, and tonight it is even better!


  1. Ah, I can related to this - watching a loved one recede into a world of their own and worrying about their well being. Luckily the place my dad is in givens him excellent care and attention and I wish the same for your nana in her new surroundings!

  2. Thank u DIH for your constant love, support, compassion, understanding and closeness.


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