As of March of
this last year, my stepfather is living on the east coast, where my husband and I live. I brought him here in an air ambulance, certified to fly by ambulance only and in pretty shaky shape. When his most recent pneumonia got him, the only nursing home where he lived on the west coast that could take him turned out to be awful. (“You think this is bad?” a social-worker friend said when he visited. “I’ve seen lots worse.”)
It took an amazing amount of time and logistical engineering to close up his assisted living apartment — in truth, he hadn’t really been qualified to remain there even before this latest setback — to make the arrangements with a nursing home close to me, and the arrangements to bring him here.
The nursing home here has been wonderful — far better than even the “gold standard” near Stanford University Hospital that he had stayed at several times in the past. He is thriving, and happier than I’ve seen him in years, in spite of all the changes he’s been through. It’s different, easier, and so much better to be his sidekick under these new circumstances.
The move was traumatic (for me, at least — Dad was too ill to be aware of it until later), but more than offset almost immediately by two positive factors — the nursing home itself, which is a non-profit run by a Quaker-driven board, and its proximity to my home. Between the genuine respect for people embodied in every interaction at the home, and our new-found ability to visit every day, life with Dad seems a little richer.
California was always crisis mode. This isn’t crisis mode; it’s a whole lot more like life. Dad has a host of serious health problems and essentially uses a wheelchair fulltime now, but his mind is still lively, and we get out and around as much as we can.
Sharing the ups and downs of each day has turned out to be a lot more emotionally rewarding for both of us than our former approach of having me hop on cross-country planes once an emergency was full-blown.