My mom, in better days, getting her parish priest liquored up on her birthday
Chapter 1: Out in the Cold
A couple of months ago, I had a troubling task. I was down in Southern California at my mom’s, accompanying her (along with my older sister and my girlfriend) to a couple of assisted-living centers in order to evaluate them. At 92, my startlingly frail and near-blind mother has had 24-hour care for more than a year now, and has required many hours of daily care for some years before that. But that care has been given in her own home, the home she’s lived in for more than 60 years, the home where she raised me and my three siblings, the home she declared—multiple times—she would die in.
But the bank is busted. There’s no family money to afford the considerable, ongoing costs of the in-home care. The reality is stark: as my mother winds down her long, good life, the only way to ensure that she’s given a good roof and caring hands to guide her path is to sell her home. We’d known that for a while, but it shocked me yet.
So, we toured the care homes, led around by cheerful hosts, and even had a good lunch at one. We saw clean rooms, engaged caregivers, clear attention to comfort and detail. At one, we even had a couple of the residents spontaneously tell us what a nice place it was. I had no doubt that my mother would be looked after there, and that her natural sociability would bring her friends in short order.