I sign her out of the hospital rehab and bring her to my house for lunch. She sees her face and the droopy side for the first time and that her always perfectly coifed hair wasn’t looking very good – and said, “Ah! Look at my face”. I had to remind her it was from the stroke. Soon after that realization, I take her and her beloved cat to the Assisted Living Community. My brothers had moved all her own furniture in, hung her clothes and stocked the cabinets. Her computer is up and running – as my brother calls it “the $1,000 solitaire machine”. It looks very welcoming, just like mom’s home, and it has a nice little view of a courtyard with a fountain.
The day before, my brother and I cleaned and cleared a portion of her old home and chose the furniture for the new apartment. We laughed at the dated items as the memories of our childhood flooded our minds and yet, we felt sad too. We grew up in a very neat, orderly house and we were standing in clutter and disorganization. Surely this was a sign that she was having the small strokes we didn’t have diagnosed until this one took away her ability to drive, her ability to speak clearly and some cognitive changes in the realm of memory and insight.
Mom was delighted to see my brother who lives a few hours away and gave him a big smile and she always laughs at my other brother who is very funny. But, when she is trying to figure out how she got here and why she is here, it is me she is mad at – I get the scowls and frowns. It is me who works and has worked a few hours every day and many hours on this day trying to give her the highest quality of life possible…but I can’t undo the damage of a stroke.
Just before I left last night, she wanted to know what happens tomorrow and where I would be. I explained to her about taking the community bus to church. And then she said, “What happens next?” and I explained to her that her out patient therapy will begin and again she asked, “Then where do I go the next day?” I answered, “You need to work on getting stronger”. But in my heart I know she was asking, “When do I go back to MY HOME!” I know she doesn’t have insight – but the cynical me wanted to say, “You think we moved all your furniture here for two or three days?” She didn’t have a smile; she looked disappointed and somewhat angry with me.
I went home and cried a lot…thinking she could die not loving me.