We were only a minute from my mother's little box of a room when she asked me this question. She had put her root beer float down on the floor of the van because she was full. She thought the idea of a root beer float was a great invention. I guess it's the dementia that keeps her from knowing they were her specialty not too long ago.
When she suddenly said to me, "do you know where we are?" I had two answers. One was in my head.
1) Yes. We are on Scotland Avenue, in Chambersburg, PA, near your room.
It's the room we are trying to embrace as your new home. We've driven this way a million times. But it feels foreign right now. I asked her the same question in return. "Yes", she replied with confidence.
The other answer was in my heart.
2) No. I have no idea where we are, mother.
In fact, right now I feel very lost. One minute you are your normal self and the next minute you say things that don't make sense. I used to laugh and sometimes still do, but mostly, I feel very sad. Sunday you were shopping for birds. When I asked the nurse just to be sure, she shook her head in slow motion. "No - no one went shopping today". She confirmed what I feared. It wasn't true.
I know that I'm your daughter and that you still know who I am.
I know that I am struggling with what is the best thing for this stage of your life. You wanted to move here to this retirement community and loved it up until the past year or so. It's probably not the Home's fault. It's just that you like to do things that are impossible for you now. Gardening, cooking, reading....things that are basically a personal retreat. You're not interested in card games, movies you don't understand and can't hear and services that just don't appeal to you.
Now my heart breaks when I leave you each time. You sit in your chair like a lost child or a stray animal looking for a home. Worst part of it is, there are so many like you in this position.
I know that I feel completely helpless, but I'm doing all I can to find the right situation for you. Today a contractor comes to look at our house and give us an estimate on building a room for you here. I'm afraid of so many things. Can I really properly care for you? Will agencies that say they will help, really help us?
I'm looking into another facility 5 minutes from me, but they don't have a bed right now. That would be handy and I could bring you home and fix you good meals and take you with me to church and let you be part of a faith community again. I will also be checking out another facility that is not as close, but has many of your high school classmates there whom I know would shower you with love.
No mother, I guess I would have to say I don't know where we are right now. But we'll find our way on this road together.
Peace. Much peace to you.