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  • Writer's pictureCarolyn Lackey

But For a Potted Hibiscus

Please indulge me another "blast from the past." This happened nine years ago when Meems decided it was time to move to Lubbock. I have learned SO much over the past nine years about "eldercare."

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Here is an account of the last few days of my life. Monday: Before we headed back to Lubbock with Mom, we took her to see her beloved Dr. Reiss (who frequently tells her that she is cute as a button). While the nurse was weighing her on the scales, Mom had another one of her "spells." She said that she wasn't feeling well and grabbed the top of the scales. The nurse and I were trying to get her to tell us what was going on. Her head was down, and she didn't seem to hear us. We began to slowly pull her toward a nearby chair, but she wouldn't let go of the scales. They actually began to fall over. It was scary. Dr. Reiss told her that it was time for her to move to Lubbock to be near me! (He kept giving me furtive raised eyebrow looks and shaking his head and made absolutely no mention of Mom's being cute as a button.) Tuesday: We visited the retirement megaplex, Carillon. Mom has been talking to her BFF, Rachel, about Rachel's new digs in Austin. I think that the place is brand new. It's got EVERYTHING: Tai Chi, water aerobics, movie nights, dances, sing-alongs... The list goes on and on. Mom wanted me to find a place like that in Lubbock with a comparable amenities/social package. I had no idea that peer pressure was so strong amongst octogenarians. Off we go to Carillon! We met the lovely marketing lady, Lindsey, for lunch. We hadn't been sitting at the table for more than a few minutes when Mom blurted out, "I don't like it in here! There are too many people eating in here!" As opposed to say...Cracker Barrel or Wednesday Church Supper? There were probably about 50 people in there at the time. Lindsey patiently listened to multiple accounts of Rachel's luxurious set up, all of the flowers blooming in Mom's yard, and Mom's friends who are ALL younger than she is. (Rachel is 80.) My social butterfly mother is just full of surprises. I must say that she thoroughly enjoyed the stuffed bell pepper and loaded mashed potato that she ordered from the extensive lunch menu. (She had Lindsey put her brownie in a to-go box. I'm not kidding. I personally wagged it around as we toured.) She thoroughly explained to Lindsey that she doesn't like to eat her "big meal" at noon. She usually eats a couple of apple slices with peanut butter. Can that be arranged? The ultimate deal breaker: She wouldn't have a balcony where she could have a potted hibiscus. That was the first I've heard of her lifelong devotion to the hibiscus. Wednesday: The Sherick! The Sherick is a beautiful retirement home for women. It sits on 4 acres of beautifully manicured grounds tucked away in a neighborhood. All 24 ladies have their own bedrooms. Some have a small sitting room as well. It is beautifully moldings, lovely furnishings in the common areas. (Think: Baylor drawing rooms in the SUB) Very, very nice. Mom really likes it. She would have to start out in the smallest unit (only a bedroom) until a larger unit becomes available. (Mom: "I wouldn't want anyone to have to die so that I could get a better room." I think that's what they call "natural attrition" in senior retirement circles.) They have a lady who comes in twice a week and reads books in the library to the ladies with sight problems. ("Oh! Maybe I could get her to read the books I've bought on all my travels!" I'm thinking that the other ladies with macular degeneration may not be thrilled to hear "The History of Bryce Canyon" or "The San Francisco Gold Rush" or "Highlights of the Uffizi Gallery.") There is an old school beauty shop on site where a lady can still get a perm and a "color rinse." About every month or so, they have a mystery outing called "The Trip to Nowhere." The giggling ladies board the bus not knowing where or how they are going to spend the day. It might be a museum or a trip to Post for lunch (which totally qualifies as a trip to nowhere) or a lazy drive in the country. Apparently these outings are wildly popular. A huge perk for me: Mom could tell the lady at the front desk the day before and be taken straight to Chico's the next morning. The ladies are very pampered. Downside: Breakfast is served at 8AM. Mom sleeps until 11:00 most days. There are no kitchens in the units. She's worried about not getting her poached egg at 11:30. She may have to settle on eating meatloaf for breakfast at noon when lunch is promptly served. Last night, I had a brilliant idea. Most of the ladies have a little dorm fridge in their rooms as well as a microwave. "Mom! We could stock your little fridge with sausage biscuits!" "I don't like the way that sausage tastes." Today: She wants to go look at a couple more places for comparison's sake. Dancing has fallen lower on her list of must-haves. She would really like to have a sort of efficiency apt. so that she can have poached eggs on demand. She also wants to bring as much of her stuff as possible. I'm hoping that this "stuff" doesn't include the piles of magazines dating back to the 70's filled with post-its marking the pages of "pretty decorating ideas" that hold the bed in the yellow bedroom up about 2 feet into the air. A couple of months ago when I was looking for some paper to make a list on, I found a package of the graphing paper I used in high school in her correspondence/photo album/miscellaneous stuff closet. It is now yellowed and kind of crunchy. Surely, she will bring the fresh sets of towels that she bought about 20 years ago that match the wallpaper in her bathroom. She bought 4 extra sets and has saved them in large ziplock bags for all these years because she would probably NEVER be able to find towels that were such a perfect match to the floral wallpaper she loves so dearly. I think that to quickly expedite this decision, I'm going to take her to some really yucky places... It's SOOOO tempting. I told her that she reminded me of the Israelites. When they got thirsty in the desert, they whined and wanted to hightail it back to Egypt and captivity and drinking water out of hollowed out gourds once an hour while they were stacking up stones for the pyramids. I told her that God would provide her manna. It just may not come in the form of a perfectly poached, runny egg.

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