Today of all days I am reminded of our conversation before your first appointment with Dr Anthony. We were sitting in Chick-fil-A and Mom went to the bathroom.
You looked at me and said, “You and I both know that this is not going to end well. And you’re going to have to take care of your mother. You know that, right?”
“Yes, I know and I will” I answered. Secretly hoping we were both wrong and that God would heal him on earth.
We weren’t wrong and God made you whole on October 29, 2017. It was a grand and glorious day for you but a very sad, hard time for us, especially Mom.
Just as I promised you, I have taken care of Mom, along with a lot of help from Kristi and Terry. They have been warriors with me and I am so deeply grateful.
Taking care of Mom looked a lot different than you had in mind. I came alongside her to care for Popaw and essentially take over his healthcare to alleviate her anxiety about having to make decisions for him.
We all pitched in and helped her sell the “big house” and move to a very sweet little condo, perfect for her.
In mid-2019 it became more apparent that she was struggling more and more with short-term memory issues. In August 2020, we went to the neurologist for her first visit. He wasn’t overly concerned and said the memory loss could be related more to depression and anxiety but said they needed an MRI just to see if there were cognitive issues or something else. The MRI revealed that she has “age-related memory loss.” However, her cognitive results at that time didn’t warrant medication other than just her antidepressant.
In February 2021, we revisited her neurologist. This time proved a bit different than before. Her cognitive test revealed that she was on a decline. Although he still calls it “mild”, medication to slow the process was necessary. And so she began taking medication.
We noticed a leveling off, if you will for a while and even the neurologist was happy at her follow-up in August of 2021. But life has a way of throwing punches beyond our control. Aunt Trisha became deathly ill with pancreatic cancer and because Mom could not care for her, Aunt Trisha asked me to become her HCPOA. For the next four months, I split time between home and Winston-Salem. While I was caring for Aunt Trisha, Kristi was taking care of Mom.
But we began noticing more of a decline, and by the time we visited her neurologist again in February of 2022, he too noticed a further decline. Thinking it may be more related to depression he upped her dosage of antidepressant from 25mg to 50mg, which is still considered a low dosage. It did calm down some of the anxiety she seemed to be having and a few months leveled her memory decline.
However, there were concerns we began having, and by the end of October, we knew there were some hard decisions that we had to make.
For the past two years or so, Mom had told the three of us, collectively and individually, that if she needed assisted living she wanted to go to The Bridge because “that’s where my Daddy was”. And so in November, with Kristi’s input and blessing, I called and put her on the waitlist for The Bridge. The timeframe of the wait would be 3-4 months.
On December 27 Mom and I made another trip to see the neurologist. At that time, we told him of our plans for her to go into assisted living and he concurred that it was good timing. He also told her he was proud of her for not digging her heels in the sand and refusing to go.
After having to put Sammy down in January, Terry and I decided to sell our house. Without him there, home no longer felt like home. Plus, we had been discussing it for months beforehand.
In late February I received a call from Beth at The Bridge telling me that Mom had a place. Not only did she have a place but because two units were coming available at the same time, she could come and choose her new apartment. So, Kristi, Terry, and I went with her to pick out her place.
In the meantime, our house went under contract. Matthew got married. We took a trip out West. Came home. Moved Mom into her apartment on March 31 and moved into her sweet little condo on April 12.
It’s been a whirlwind since the beginning of January, to say the least. But it’s all good. Mom is settling in well and so are we. But when I find myself thinking of our conversation over 7 years ago, I think you always recalled the last conversation I had with Daddy before his death. You knew he’d given me a very great and overwhelming responsibility at seven. One I could not bear because I was way too young. A responsibility that God entrusted to you and now you were giving it back to me. I have not taken this opportunity lightly or tried to do it on my own, I have enlisted help and support from many. I am in no way giving up my obligation by choosing to move Mom to The Bridge. I am simply giving us all freedom to love on her and enjoy being with her and giving the good people there the opportunity to give her the best care possible.
Oh, how I wish I could just pick up the phone and call you. Just once. Just to hear you say, “You’re doing what’s best.” But in all honesty, as many as I sought in making these decisions, God has been my ultimate counselor and guide so I know it is what’s best.
I just want to say thank you for loving and caring for her so well.for 39 years. You always did what was best for her. Thank you for entrusting me to continue what you started.
Love you and miss you!
Sidebar: I began this yesterday because it would have been Ned’s 78th birthday but I couldn’t complete it until today.