Walking down the escarpment one last time

It is very hard to “leave your mother in that place” as a friend of mine said to me last summer. And so it was. But from the moment that I realized that The Commander was not going to be able to live alone in her own very beloved home any more, I knew where I wanted her to move. Not that there hasn’t been any second guessing then or now. Lots of it. I wondered what people would think… Like, “Why doesn’t she move her mother to The Planet Ann Arbor?”

I don’t know if the last 10 months or so would have been easier with The Comm down here or not. In some ways yes, in some ways not. I do know one thing. She had an opinion! No way did she want to move down here! I actually think she had ideas about recovering enough to move back into her house (and drive…). I am glad that she was so feisty but, alas, I knew better.

Where to move (except home) was really her decision because she was of sound mind. I thought that Freighter View would be the best. Her wonderful friend Ginny was a resident. I mean they have been friends since The Comm arrived up in Siberia after World War II ended, which was well before I was born. Ginny’s youngest daughter was one of *my* best friends my entire childhood. And Radical Betty lived at Freighter View for eight months before she died. So The Comm was familiar with the place and she was also a familiar entity there. When I went over to put in an application for an apartment, the staff were all like, “Oh, Fran! Yes, we know her!”

And she did move into Freighter View. She got the best room in the house, in my opinion. I had high hopes. I knew it would be hard for someone with The Comm’s intellectual capacity and independence to adjust. But she was healthy and quite mobile at that time and I kind of expected her to live there a few years. Her considerable contingent of friends would visit her. We would come up and visit her. She could get up to her house to continue her long-term deacquisitioning project. She was *not* a hoarder and she did *not* want me to have to clean *anything* up.

Right off the bat, I knew that “we” had made a good decision. The uber-nurse who checked us in remembered my mom from when she took a class from The Comm in high school. And so did other people that worked there. They loved her! Mom would walk around outside of the building every day and religiously do all of the rehab exercises that Howard and all of the other [wonderful] physical and occupational therapists taught her. She loved them and they loved her and I will never forget them.

But then… What I didn’t expect was that first call that Freighter View had called the ambulance for The Comm. I mean, I knew she had been having some problems but still…

Alas, she sort of became a frequent flyer. There is a wonderful hospital up there in Siberia, an easy walk from Freighter View for someone like me. She hated taking the bus ambulance over there but a few times she was unconscious until they got her over there. So, she would be at the hospital and then she would recover and then… (The Comm did not have a terminal illness, this was a very complicated situation.)

The last time she was transported to the ER and admitted to the hospital, she contracted a dangerous bacterial infection. She was there for a very loooonnngggg time and was in pain and miserable and couldn’t eat. But she was still all there mentally, able to understand her situation. She chose to enter hospice and, to make a long story short, we moved her back to her room at Freighter View.

Can I just say that between the staff at FV and the hospice folks she received excellent care during her last month or so. She even rallied for a bit and began eating and drinking a bit of coffee again. But then…

4 Responses to “Walking down the escarpment one last time”

  1. Paulette Says:

    Feisty. Independent. Yes, indeed. And with a wonderfully wry sense of humor! The Commander most certainly didn’t want to leave the Great White North. She said that to me many times. I often thought that she was so in love with the “Old Coot” that she took comfort in living where they had made their home. (Your dad was the topic of many of our conversations.) The Commander, at 91, also had a robust cadre of many and varied friends who were an important part of her independent social life here. (Her room at FV became a wonderful gathering place.) Her loving family was ever dear to her, and the physical distance never affected that bond. May we all be so fortunate to live life as we choose, and to accept gracefully the challenges to our independence life may present, all the while being so lovingly supported by family. Miss her.

  2. Margaret Says:

    She sounds wonderful and much like my late MIL. Once MIL went downhill, she went fast and that was a blessing for such an independent woman–same with your mom?

  3. Pam J. Says:

    “The uber-nurse who checked us in remembered my mom from when she took a class from The Comm in high school. And so did other people that worked there. They loved her!”
    How wonderful was that??

    I just returned from having lunch with a friend and the last thing we talked about as I was dropping her off was how we felt the day before, and of, our respective father’s deaths. My friend’s dad died about 12 years ago; mine died 7 years ago. We agreed that the memories still feel fresh. Not painful. Just fresh. Losing a parent is a major life event, for which we are never really prepared. I also think that with time good memories get stronger and bad memories get weaker.

  4. DogMomster Says:

    I miss Fran and think about her frequently. Still chuckling at how she’d HAVE to explain that every time she’d say “We love you”, that she meant both her and Jack – even after all these years! And loving how we’d get reports of Fran talking with nurses or social workers and that she’d have them absolutely cracking up before they’d leave! But, yes, she definitely had strong opinions about where she wanted to be… and downstate was NOT on that list, and I don’t blame her, since her closest network was the Soo. And Freighter View was the best place and she did indeed have the best room. Loved watching the Locks and the boats from there. And the lights from the International Bridge made for a pretty night picture.