Sunday, October 31, 2010

Preparing the Room

Dad is settled in to his "new" room in the adult family home. It's not exactly a new room because it's Mom's old room. She had the larger bedroom with a lovely view of the back yard and a flowering magnolia.. Several days before Mom died when it was clear to all  that she didn't have much time left, Dad asked me if he should "move in to Mom's room" or stay put in his smaller room. I think he made the right decision to move because not only is it brighter and roomier, he also spent countless hours in there with her. They each had easy chairs and when they weren't sleeping, eating or out in the family room, they'd be together in that space. We all thought he'd be more troubled by someone else living in that space, remembering the last 18 months they had been together. The room was such a focal point in their lives and in ours as visitors.

The Sunday after Mom died, MM and Earl took Dad to church. Those few hours with Dad out of the house gave me time to get in there and work like mad to empty  the dresser and closet and sort through drawers. I assumed it might upset my Dad to watch me with this task so I was glad for a time when he was elsewhere.

The work wasn't easy. I cried at the start; removing jackets and sweaters from hangers, emptying out her drawer of nightgowns, and untangling necklaces but I gained courage as I went along and plowed through  quickly. The staff offered to help but I didn't ask for any until it was time to haul everything out to my car. It seemed right that I be the one to pack up; first the suitcases and then large, sturdy trash bags. How many times in the past years have I packed and then unpacked personal items belonging to both Mom and Dad whenever they've made yet another move for a so-called  "higher level of care"? Countless, it seems.They've lived in four different places since moving out of their home in late summer 2006.

Several days later I moved Dad's things into her cleared out closet. He was very specific about which of the framed pieces on his wall he wanted to keep. "Put those framed diplomas away; I know what degrees I have.", he remarked. "I want pictures of my family on the wall". OK, Dad. Will do..

Dad admitted to me that it took him a few days to feel comfortable in the new space. I suspect it's the memories of Mom but he says he's had to get used to new routines (like where he stores his hearing aids and spare tissue boxes). Mom's electric recliner chair sits in the room like a monument to her. He doesn't use it and neither do I when I visit. I wish he would use it; her chair is so much more comfortable than the one he has but I don't say anything. His choice. The pot of flowers next to the chair gives off  a sort of sickening smell.. They're the type the live on for awhile and are visually pleasing so we'll probably keep them.

Last week Dad asked me to remove some of the "extra stuff" around the room. "It looks cluttered and busy", he said. I took down some of the photographs taped to the walls and sorted through the books on the rosewood shelves. "I took out all the cookbooks, Dad. That should lighten things up a bit."  He nodded knowingly. Yesterday he told me that he liked the room. "Thanks to your hard work, Kitty Kat; it looks more masculine."

Yes, I guess it does. That's good.

What I'm avoiding for the moment are the suitcases and plastic bags with all of Mom's things. I moved them into the Arapahoe home and there they will sit. Until I'm ready. Until I can face the fact that tears will flood over me when I touch the sweaters. Especially the sweaters. They smell just like my Mom, like she has always smelled to me from the time I was a child. Wonderful and safe, like love.


  1. Thank you for bringing us along on this journey with you. I, for one, as my mom is 80 now and while in good health at the moment, know things can change suddenly or slowly and I will be doing what you are doing someday before long...

    I am glad your dad is happy with his more masculine room and that you have helped in that transition, too...special memories of their own during such a difficult time.

    The sweaters...yes. I still have two of Mike's sweaters and wear them from time to time (calling them 'Boyfriend Sweaters...) and it is also sweet to know my grandmother was buried in one of her favorite sweaters, too).

  2. As hard as this was on you, I think it was a good idea ~ gives your Dad more room and a chance to be in a place where he finds comfort.


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