Many of you know I returned on a Friday night (Jan 13th) from Florida. I did laundry, reintroduced myself to Rich, Lily, and Tallinn (although Rich and Lily were gone all weekend with prior engagements) and turned around and drove to Houston that Monday morning. I drove as far as Fort Worth, TX (about 10.5 hours) and stayed there for the night. I purchased tickets online to the Fort Worth Zoo and spent a good majority of my Tuesday there taking pictures of the animals. They happened to have a baby gorilla (so adorable!), a baby Asian elephant, and a baby giraffe. They had all sorts of cool animals and I had a wonderful time just walking around taking photos of the animals. Zoos are my happy place, and I just needed some time walking outside and connecting with my Joe, who I always feel is with me when I am at a zoo. Those photos will be coming later. I arrived in Cypress, TX (just outside of Houston) Tuesday evening. I have since been spending time with my parents and my brother and his family. Craig and Mayra have a 12 year old son who loves basketball. I got to go to a game and a practice. It brought the memories flooding back from when Tim was so into basketball (okay….he still is but I don’t get to go to his practices or games anymore!). They also welcomed a baby girl named Emily Jo on December 20th of 2022. Craig is my Joe’s Godfather and uncle, so they named her in honor of him, which was so very touching to us. She is a peanut….so tiny…but so darn cute. She looks alot like her older brother did when he was a baby. It is entertaining to watch how she has wrapped everyone around her little finger. She definitely rules the house right now. There is also a big infusion of pink in their house, which makes me smile.
The hard part has been helping my mom get my dad ready to move into a memory care facility. Everything needed to be provided….a bed, three sets of sheets, clothes, sofas, chairs, toiletries….everything. We also put a little red truck door hanger on the outside of his door so he will know it is his room. He has a red truck and that was how he knew he was at his house when out walking….he looked for the red truck. We managed to get everything together and this morning a wonderful moving company (I really can’t say enough good things about them) came and moved him to his new place. Although my mom had mentioned to him all the time about moving, I think most of the time he had it in his mind that my mom was moving there with him….so today was hard. I took a photo of him this morning on his spot on the couch, where he has taken up residence watching news everyday for the last few years. I sit here now and look at that worn spot on the couch…my dad’s spot, and it makes the tears start to flow. However, his room looks really nice. It is in a corner of the building so is a bit larger and he has beautiful windows to look out of. He can look out the window and see the American and Texan flag flying. He has a TV with cable set up in his room but we have encouraged the memory care director to have him out with others and doing activities. There are exercise classes three times a day. They have a Bible study once a week. My mom will pick him up and take him to their Bible study at their church for as long as he desires to go.
While my mom was directing the movers on unpacking, etc, I accompanied my dad to his first meal in the dining room. There are cloth tablecloths and cloth napkins at their meals. The executive director of operations started out as a cook many years ago and on Wednesdays he makes a guest appearance in the kitchens and makes omelets for all the residents. We met with him on the way out and he was in a chef’s jacket…so I asked if he was doubling as the chef today. That was when he said he does dabble in the kitchen every now and then…and every Wednesday morning. Dad sat at a table with three other residents. Robert, a Marine Vet, was very talkative and pretty high functioning. He is hard of hearing though, so I must have shouted, “His name is WALT…..about 12 times.” Robert liked sharing the table with another military man and I think the feeling was mutual. I told him I had been in the Air Force and he literally rolled his eyes and pshawed me – as if the Air Force didn’t count as a military service. Dad was given water and pink lemonade to drink and then chicken and gravy, collard greens, and yams. My dad is not fond of yams or anything green….and pink lemonade would not be his first (or fifth) choice of drinks. However, my fussy eater dad ate everything on his plate and washed it down with pink lemonade. He then polished it off with a piece of cake! I got to giggling…I just couldn’t believe it! I asked him how his lunch was and he said, “Pretty good!” I am not sure he remembers my mom’s name because he never really has to say it. But he asked twice at lunch where “she” was. Both my mom and I feel pretty good about the staff. They are friendly and knowledgeable. My dad is very easygoing and polite, so I think he will quickly become a staff favorite. We left after the director took him to the living room to be with everyone else for activities in the afternoon. My mom will go to see him tomorrow afternoon and see how things are going. I will be heading home tomorrow morning. I am just trying to make sure that everything is okay here at home now that my mom will be living alone. My dad’s cognitive decline has been rapid over the last year, but he was always willing to help my mom by carrying the laundry basket, etc, for her. I have ordered one on wheels that will arrive on Friday. Here are a few photos from today’s hard day. As I hugged my dad and told him I was driving back to Nebraska tomorrow, he hugged me tight and told me he loved me. It was a precious lucid moment that I will cherish. I have already talked to my Joe in heaven and asked him to watch over him. Goodness, it has just been a tough year all the way around.
Just in case any of you were wondering, the weather was really bad here yesterday. Although we didn’t get hit by the tornado that landed in the Houston area, we were under a tornado warning a lot of the day and had nearly 6 inches of rain in about a 5 hour timeframe. It was windy and dark and the weatherman said at one point there was 617 lightning strikes in a 10 minute period in this area. Glad we weren’t moving yesterday! Today was sunny…but chilly for here. My brother, who works in Dallas for 4 days a week, had snow as he arrived last night.