After staying away from dad’s ALF for almost a week because of the quarantine due to the GI bug, I returned this week. Dad was glad to see me, but still a bit glum.
I brought him some new slippers and a few other things. I asked him to go with me to his room so he could try on the clothes and have room to spread out. The lobby is sometimes too full of people for us to easily sit side by side.
Dad tried on the slippers but they were too small. I would have to take them back and exchange for a larger size. The other clothing seemed to fit OK. Dad sat back in his Lazy Boy and picked up the picture of himself and Mary. He showed it to me and again asked if I knew who she was. I said yes, that was Mary.
“Where is she?” he asked. I told him again that she had moved to the memory unit. “Can I see her?” he asked. Again I didn’t know how to respond. Twice they came in contact recently – once in his ALF and once in the Memory Unit and both times she did not recognize him.
I told him I thought it might make him sad if he sees Mary and she doesn’t recognize him. “Oh, she will know who I am!” he declared. I didn’t know how to respond. I told him I didn’t know if he could see her or not. I would talk to the management and find out. He sat looking rather sad the rest of my visit until it was time to go to lunch.
While he went to lunch, I mentioned the situation to the director again. She said I could take him to the memory unit if I want to, but there are no activities planned for the rest of this month that would bring together the people from both units at one activity.
I told her I was hesitant to take him there, partly because of all the snow and ice on the ground. I have enough difficulty walking from my car into the building without trying to take dad on his walker – even though we would just have to go to the car in the parking lot and from the other parking lot into the building.
Also I am afraid he will be directly rejected if there is no activity and I just tried to have him visit her. I guess I am overwhelmed at this time of year with so much going on and all the bad weather that I am not ready to add on one more thing.
I said for the time being we would wait. I wished I had told dad Mary was gone far away and he couldn’t see her any more. But I didn’t want to lie to him. I try to always tell him the truth.
But the next time I went to the ALF I brought dad the new slippers I had exchanged for the ones that did not fit. I told him I would put his old slippers in his room and he could just stay in the lounge while I did that. While I was in his room, I slipped that picture of Mary into my purse. I don’t know if it was the right thing to do, but I thought: “Out of sight – out of mind”. Maybe he won’t think about her so much if her picture isn’t right there by his chair.
I feel guilty taking the picture from him in case it brought him comfort. But it seemed to just make him sad, so there you are!
I don’t know what I will say if he asks about the picture. I don’t even know if he still remembers Mary’s name, as he always just asks me if I know who she is. I will see what happens in the next week or. I think I might try to find time to print some old pictures of mom to bring to his room and set on the table beside his chair. He knows she is gone, but it might bring him some comfort in his memories.