This chair sits beside the driveway halfway between my mom's casita and our house. When she first moved back from Hawaii, we rapidly discovered that she had lost far more mobility in the couple of years since I'd last seen her, and this became a way to help her not be worried about walking over to our house. Most of those walks centered around laundry. For a variety of reasons, mostly space, we had determined it was not necessary to put a stacking washer/dryer unit in her casita.
(It is important only for the sake of "I Told You So" rights to note that I was a strong proponent of making the space. I was outvoted. Annnnnnnd... I was correct. The real takeaway here? Always listen to Ramona on design issues. Hee!)
So come laundry time, Mom would put her laundry in a little garden wagon, and trundle over to do it at the big house. This was the mitigation plan, and it worked fine.
Until last spring, when she had some very serious health issues that resulted in a massive surgery involving multiple revascularizations. AKA "How Many Arteries Can We Replace At Once In the Body," or, perhaps, "Fun Fact: Artificial Arteries Are Made of Gortex." It was a most trying time, but she lived through the massive surgery, and all was well.
Okay, it took a while to get to all is well. She was in a care facility for a couple of months, mostly due to advanced decline pre-surgery, complicated by a nasty infection resulting from the insurance company kicking her out of the hospital too soon. (Do. Not. Get. Me. Started.) So it was a long haul back, but she made it. However, while we were hoping for a net improvement in her circulatory system resulting in improved mobility, what we got was staying alive (nothing to sneeze at, no sirree) and a slowing down of further decline.
But she has never been able to walk as far as the house since. While I come by my dislike for and reluctance to practice good exercise habits naturally, it is true she was gravely weakened by the ordeal. So even with her walker, the hike to the house was too much, and her own extreme disinclination toward movement and exercise was very exacerbated by extensive weakness.
So the chair got used just a few times last summer when we had BBQ's or gatherings and it served again as a resting spot on the way to and from our outdoor gathering area. Since it continued useful, it remained in its spot.
Winter came, and we left the chair, just in case she regained some strength in her legs and found herself able to walk a bit on nice days. Hope springs eternal, but sadly her decline has continued, and it is becoming quite clear that my mom will never use this chair again.
I walk by it each time I go to and from my studio or mom's place, and now and then I think, "I should put that in the basement," and then I don't. Something about removing it seems so final, like killing hope. Even though the reality is clear, and has been for some time now, I have not been able to bring myself to put it away. (Plus, let's face it. It's not like I'm going to be a medalist in Getting Things Done In A Timely Fashion or anything...the apple falling not so far from either tree, in this case.)
Yesterday, we had a situation that made it clear the next phase of this difficult journey is at hand. It is time to start looking into and arranging for assisted living. We had the first talk about it, and I believe we are in agreement. (That's some fun, that conversation. For sure. Nothin' like it.), She did agree that it was likely time. At least she spoke the words aloud. As far as what she was really thinking?
With my mom, it's devilishly hard to tell. She's a bit of a closed book, that one. Even my brothers and sisters of the heart, who have known her since we were teens or twenty-somethings, rarely can tell what the hell is going on inside that formerly brilliant head, or what she might be feeling. And I for sure cannot. She's not much for being drawn out, either.
But, it is what it is, and I am thanking my lucky stars she wasn't hugely resistant to the notion of moving into some form of assisted care. Been there, done that, with close family, and that is a far worse shit sandwich than this one. (It also remains true that they are both shit sandwiches when you get right down to it.)
So I'm looking and researching, and am profoundly grateful that some of my sibs referred to above are in various aspects of elder care, and are lovingly serving as advice and resources to aid me in this task. It is impossible to overstate how thankful I am for their assistance, and for the amazing support system I have.
With their guidance, I will narrow it down to a top few, and then mom and I will go look, and she will pick. It will be complicated by many things, not the least of which is her desire to keep her kitty-cat, which is looking to be a rather steep block in the path, since we are not of unlimited resources. But I'm also sure that is just one of the many hurdles in the path.
I'm sure it will all work out in the end. I know that I have terrific support from my tribe. I know that I stand willing and ready to do all of the above, and coordinate the move when it happens, and figure out the money, and the furniture, and her care, and the cat, and her inscrutability, and my grief, and my relief that she will have more skilled eyes and care at hand, and, and, and... all of the everything attendant at the advent of having to place a parent in assisted living.
But I'll be damned if I can make myself put that chair away.