November marks essentially two months since Mom moved from independent to assisted living side of the senior community (Carmel Hills) where she’s been since we moved her from Tampa, FL to Charlotte three Junes ago. I was her primary caregiver for seven months, and lunch-making, shopping, medication consistency, appointments, walking and just being around were the essentials. I worked my presence down to twenty hours a week for the last month before she moved to the assisted side.
I’m proud of having gotten her to Raleigh for my nephews seriously cool wedding weekend in July and yes, I was worried that her meds got messed up back in Charlotte during my terrific NY week without responsibilities. I went right back into service the morning after a 17-hour return trip, handling a situation with Mom’s cable because that’s what caregivers do.
Just days after we learned about a single room opening on the assisted side, my mother caused a smoke-out, the very first time she’d tried to reheat any leftovers. The strangest part was getting a Sunday morning call just after pre-church shower about it, because nothing seemed amiss when I’d picked her up for ice cream at 7:30 and stayed till 10:00 the previous night, and smokers are still events that count heavily in determining when such moves are finally necessary.
Mom never mentioned it, mostly because she didn’t remember it. It turned out between 4:45 when I called about our ice cream date, the smoke alarm at 6:30 and time I arrived, Carmel Hills had done their emptying out drill, cleared up the charred stuff in the apartment, and was back to normal. Overall, that was a fortunate stroke of timing, but having a plan for such moves when the time comes makes transitions easier on everyone.
That’s when we moved Mom, and its such a good situation for both her and- as I sit before a picture window with sunshine and finally changing color leaves outside- a lifestyle change I hadn’t really comprehended.
Primary caregivers have a different challenge
When I wasn’t jumping over there between 11:00-1:30 because she liked early lunch and card games, and post-dinner (7-9:30), I admit accepting that I couldn’t work for several hours because she wasn’t wired, and I felt guilty if I didn’t keep her involved in conversation. While there was always a satisfaction about my caregiver role in the clutch, the difference when I didn’t have to divide my time has allowed an obvious, positive rise in productive hours elsewhere.
My second book submission – with a tightened-up 7,300 word intro – is going out two weeks early, so this past month constitutes a successful conversion for me. A golf writing – travel gig possibility from August ended with several hospital stays by client, but I’ve had opportunities to present my flexible niche writing abilities on a regular basis on well-populated professional sites. There are jobs and gigs, long enough and challenging assignments that make an economic difference.
Last week was a good one with Mom. Saturday evening I took her to an Oyster Roast by our Men’s Club, to church on Sunday, and Thursday I brought her tiger lilies after I bought a necessary new laptop, because that’s what you do when Mom’s are on the same side of town as business. I got to Carmel Hills when she was about to start a roast beef lunch, and believe me, even if I was suit and tie dressed up and had flowers, that took priority. Helpers got the flowers into a container and on a table in her room.
I also let Mom know Edna, her best buddy since 2nd grade, was going to visit in two Fridays. Of course, I’ll remind her a couple times, but that’s definitely a good news thing, and repeating isn’t any kind of negative.
At the Oyster Roast Mom kept saying she wasn’t sure she liked oysters, but she’s eaten every one I’ve fixed her before. We settled at a table with a lady and her Mom who remembered me trying to sell tickets a month ago, and they kept Mom company while I wound up managing a variety of situations with the roast. I made sure she had a wine, got back several times, and found her a good slab of chocolate cake. She appreciated getting out, so I loaded up on karmic rewards.
Mom wanted to treat to dinner after church this week, so Mike, Mom and I went to Red Lobster, beating the rush easily. As often as she says she’s hungry, Mom still doesn’t eat much, although she always has room to work with her sweet tooth, and sharing a nice warm brownie with ice cream worked without a hitch.
Mom needed a nap after the wine, and by the time I got back to the house, the Panthers were pounding the Ravens on TV, including a semi-sneaky 54-yard FG to end the first half with a 24-7 lead. I’m a FanSided/CatCrave blogger, so by the time I’d watched until the surprising 36-21 conclusion, a last touch on a good week for me included a twelve-mile bike ride.
I’m still thankful to the ex-HR person who definitively stated NOBODY had writers working in staff positions any more, that everything was out-sourced.
Having embraced that attitude, and forgetting about knocking out a straight forty hour week, the challenge remains the same—making my time worth while to a paying client.
Bringing flowers and getting Mom out several times, that still makes for a no doubt feeling about being a ‘Good Son’. Having said before that being a caregiver is about making other people’s lives go right and taking care of yourself—that still works. Having picked up the habit of utilizing smaller time frames for proposals and entrepreneurial projects, I’m better at utilizing the technology that’s making it easier for me to (relatively) put myself in front of significant others.