warning - long post about my Father.
I always go and see my Father on Monday's and Wednesday's after work. Then, depending on every one's schedule, I try and go again either on Friday or Saturday.
Background information: My Father suffered a heart attack in August. We found out about it when we disembarked our cruise. It has been utter chaos ever since. Dad had many problems besides the heart attack. He had a kidney stone, terribly low oxygen levels and now he was dealing with a newly inserted pace maker. In short, he was in intensive care for WEEKS! Following that he went to a normal hospital room for a while and then to a rehab floor prior to his release.
Feeling horrible, he decided he wanted to die and just stopped eating or drinking anything! I cried. I screamed. I pleaded with him using guilt tactics such as what a terrible example he was setting for my husband who was also fighting an illness that leaves him feeling horrible sometimes. Both of my brothers also tried talking to him but NOTHING WORKED!. I was so discouraged. It has been 2 days. I knew it would not be long before he would be in dangerous territory. I went to go and see him on day 3 and to my amazement - when I arrived, he was sitting at the dining room table with my oldest brother James, and drinking a glass of orange juice. Are you ready for what changed his mind??? James told him that he was not giving him enough time to get Dad's finances in order and if he died right now, the government would get a LOT of his money!
As it turns out, Dad had entered a dangerous territory and he did have to be readmitted into intensive care - where we just started all over again...
Fast forward several more weeks. Dad was released from the hospital's rehab floor because he 'would not' do the 4 hours of rehab work required for him to stay there. He was sent to a place called University Place. It was located right next to an assisted living facility and a hospital.
The first time I walked into this place my heart sank. This was not the lovely assisted living area, where there were nice carpets, beautiful lighting fixtures and elegant furnishings.. no - this was PURE NURSING HOME! Don't misunderstand me. It was clean. It did not smell. The staff was courteous... BUT overall, it was a sad and lonely place.
Dad was sent to this specific facility because of their rehab program though .. not because of their furnishings..and I had to remind myself of this over and over and over again. This was temporary. Weeks passed and I have to say that from the time he arrived, weighing less than I do and refusing to open the shades preferring to stay in a dark room.. he has improved. His natural pink coloring of his skin has returned, he has put on some weight and several times he has had an optimistic tone in his voice.
The next step though was not to rush into sending him back home alone.. but to migrate him into assisted living and continue physical therapy and hopefully continue to progress. Dad had expressed a desire to go to Brighton Gardens. It is here where my Grandmother, his Mother, spent the last years of her life. It was also here where my Mother worked as an interior designer, helping people decide which of their home furnishings to bring and how to best arrange them. Brighton Gardens had many good memories for us.
The time had come and Dad told us he was going to be moving, probably the following Monday. He was ready telling everyone he was happy to have a change of atmosphere. I knew though that at this time, since he was still having trouble getting around on his own and still on oxygen, he would be going to the back part of Brighton Gardens and not the front section - where he would essentially have his own apartment.
Friday, work for me was busy and when the day ended, I drove over to University Place thinking this would be the last time. I parked my car and walked in the doors. I learned several weeks back that if I use the stairs, I could avoid walking through the patients on the first floor that were not exactly "sound of mind". After having one patient grab at my clothes and several others chattering gibberish at me as I passed, it became my least favorite time. Once I described it as walking through the set of "The Night of the Living Dead"! Anyway - I found the back way that avoided this area and I cheerfully ran up the stairs. I walked to Dad's room, only to be greeted my an elderly Asian man. I looked over his shoulder to see my Fathers room, clean, empty of his possessions and the bed neatly made up. I walked to the nursing station and they advised me Dad left with James just an hour or so ago.
I thanked them for taking such good care of Dad and walked back down to the car. I sat for a moment trying to think of the easiest way to navigate to Brighton Gardens. I started the car and left. I was kind of excited for Dad.
As I entered the parking lot, I easily found a parking spot and was thankful that the entire lot was well lit, something that was not provided for the visitors of University Place. I walked into the main entrance and it was alive with activity. Music was playing, residents were eating in the luxurious dining room, elderly people were walking and talking. There was even cages of song birds and a dog that wandered from resident to resident with a tail that never stopped wagging. I smiled. I knew Dad was not in this area, but the thought that he could graduate to this made me feel wonderful.
I made my way back to the higher care area. I stopped at the nursing desk and asked them where my Fathers room was. They looked at me inquisitively and asked me to spell his name. I did and stood there waiting.
"I am sorry, but we do not have a resident by that name here." the nurse advised me.
"Are you sure because he would have just been admitted today." I responded.
She picked up the phone and called to confer her statement. After hanging up she said, "I am sorry, but your Father is not here. In fact we only had one new resident check in today and it was a woman."
I thanked her for her assistance and went back out to my car...which is where I thought to myself.."I feel like I am playing a game of Where's Waldo!"
I called James and told him where I was.
"Where is Dad?" I asked.
He proceeded to tell me that they had a change of plans and Dad was now living in another facility called The Plaza. He said there were problems with admitting him into Brighton Gardens and they changed their minds. He gave me directions. I hung up and started my drive to The Plaza.
Traffic was bad because I drove right past one of the largest shopping areas in Houston and it is only 1 week before Christmas! As I approached Dad's new residence, I felt good. It was off of the main streets and seemed quiet. There was another restricted living facility next door and some nice looking apartments across the street. Walking in, it was elegantly decorated for Christmas. A concierge greeted me at the entrance that made me feel it was more secure. There were trays of cookies, juice and coffee around every turn.
I walked down the hall to the elevators. This place was just as elegant as Brighton Gardens, only lacking the bustle of residential activity. In fact, I only saw one gentleman. It looked as though he had fallen asleep in his wheel chair waiting for the elevator....
Dad's room was nice, painted white with yellow floral fabrics. The view from his window was of the gardens below. I stayed with him for several hours, helping him unpack and get settled in. I met some of the staff and all seemed quite friendly. I don't yet have a real feel for the place, but I pray that he is happy there. I guess having wandering dogs and cages of birds would not change his opinion. For the time I lived with him, he objected to me having plants .. not to mention an actual living animal! If it were me though, that alone would have made all the difference.
So take note - my darling children.. when I grow old and feeble and need to be placed in a home.. please look for one that has many living creatures to which I may interact. For that is a large substance of my happiness.