Friday, March 26, 2010

Mom's New Bathroom

On Saturday, October 17, 2009 my brother John (the Baby Brother) and his wife rented a large van and drove from their home in Greenville, South Carolina to our Mom’s home in Downingtown, Pennsylvania where she lived with my other younger brother Isaac, the Middle Brother.

My brothers and I had decided to move our Mom to the milder climate of Greenville for the winter. Mom was reluctant to move of course. She would be moving from the house she had lived in since 1958 and from Pennsylvania where she had lived for all of her eighty six years. However, she was showing the early signs of dementia that both of her older sisters suffered. She also has maneuverability problems and was increasingly in need of another woman to help her with her personal needs. Thus my brothers and I decided that my brother John’s home was the best place for our Mom at this time in her life. My brother’s occupation is a care pastor for his local fundamentalist Baptist church so he is well acquainted with the special needs of his elderly parishioners and very good at taking care of those needs.

John’s home already had a separate “mother-in-law” suite that he built for his mother-in-law who lived with his family until she passed away a few years ago. The suite consisted of a bedroom with a skylight to let in natural light. It also had a bathroom, small living room and a small kitchenette. It also had a modest deck that looked out on the enclosed backyard. It is just the kind of apartment that I would like to have when I’m in my eighties, should I ever be so fortunate to reach that age.

As expected, at first when Mom moved in she was ready to go back to her longtime home in Pennsylvania the following week. We explained to her that it wasn’t in her best interest to go back until at least the winter was over. After this past brutal winter, our decision to move her south was now looked upon as absolutely brilliant. After a few months Mom became more comfortable with her new living quarters at my brother’s home. However, there was one problem. Mom didn’t use the kitchenette. Our Mom, the Cook, no longer liked to cook. That was a shame because she made the best southern biscuits. Oh how we miss those biscuits. Her pie crusts weren’t too good (cardboardy) but her biscuits……ah, they were heaven.

The other problem was the bathroom. Mom has a problem with her legs. She is very unsteady on them thus getting in and out of a bathtub is very difficult for her. Plus, the bathroom area was a bit confined for her to move around in with her walker.

As the oldest brother it is not easy for me to admit this fact but my brother John is a very clever man as well as being an excellent carpenter. I've always assumed that since I was the Firstborn, I got all the smarts, good looks, and personality of my parent's three sons.  But, as I've grown older I have to reluctantly admit that both of my younger brothers have skills that I can never hope to possess. In fact both of my brothers are good builders as was my father. Unfortunately, I didn’t inherit that carpenter gene from my Pop. I can’t build a thing but I can cook and garden. Neither of my brothers like to garden but Isaac likes to cook. But I digress.

My clever brother John surveyed our Mom’s bathroom accommodations situation and came up with the solution. He decided to take out the kitchenette that wasn’t being used and, instead put in a nice long vanity counter.

Next he put in a type of bathtub that my Mother could walk into and lower herself by mechanical means. Don’t ask me how it works but John says the contraption now makes it much easier for Mom to take a bath. Of course now that Mom is living in a house with two other women (her daughter-in-law and her single adult grandchild), she has assistance for her personal needs instead of her big, awkward, and squeamish sons.

Baby Brother John also put in handrails for Mom to help her maneuver herself around her apartment.

Now, after six months Mom is quite comfortable in her new living quarters. She rarely talks about “going back home” to Pennsylvania. I think she now realizes that she is living in her new home. Sometimes she inquires about her cat Molly, a calico feral cat that she rescued about fourteen years ago. Molly always slept with my Mother. Mom used to call Molly her “hot water bottle.” But Molly has taken up with my other brother, Isaac. No need to worry about Molly. Besides, my Mother has a new friend in Maggie. Maggie is my sister-in-law's lovable mixed breed dog who has graciously consented to share her home with my Mom.  Maggie loves having a new friend to keep her company all day.  I think Mom feels the same way.

Admiring the pictures of Mom’s newly remodeled bathroom at my brother’s home I couldn’t help but think and hope that I would be as fortunate to have such nice living arrangements when I’m in my twilight years. I wish.  But for right now, I am very happy for my Mom that she has peace and comfort at this time of her life.  She worked hard all her life to provide for her family and this is the least we can do for our Mother.  Thank you Mom for all that you have done for us.  We all love you for than we can express in words.  You deserve nothing less than the best. 


  1. This has put a smile on my face. Your Mom is blessed with 3 sons that are there for her, and life is good.

  2. Ron,

    This was nice. Your John is to be congratulated for what he has done, too. And i see that smile back on your mother's face. Give my love to your mom.

    "I've always assumed that since I was the Firstborn, I got all the smarts, good looks, and personality of my parent's three sons."

    Now, the way to guarantee you get all the smarts, good looks and personality is to be an only child like me.


  3. I just loved this good news, and the pictures are terrific!

    Your mom looks so happy; her place is beautiful, and I'm glad that's she's 'safe and sound'.....

    Love the picture of her sleeping and the one of her looking at the dog - she's obviously contented.

  4. Anonymous9:38 AM

    Hi Ron,

    It warmed my heart to see the pictures of your Mom, especially the last one of her sleeping. You can tell how content she is. I know it must give you so much peace of mind that she is with your brother & his family.

    It's a bright sunny day even though a bit chilly. I think I'll do some weeding. The chick weed is taking over my flower beds. Have a great weekend!


  5. Fran,

    Yes, it does warm my heart to see my Mother comfortable and at peace. She had a very difficult childhood, married young to get away from home and devoted her whole life to taking care of my father and her "three boys." She has never asked anything for herself. Her mantra her whole life was that "I don't want to be a burden to anyone when I'm old." It wasn't easy getting her to leave her longtime home but it was in her best interest. I am so relieved that she is in a safe, comfortable and secure place now. We are priviliged to do this for her.


  6. Diane,

    Yes, Mom is contented.....finally. It wasn't easy getting her to move from her home of over fifty years in PA. There have also been a few speed bumps in her stay at John and Barb's too. At one point she was complaining to anyone who would listen that she was "kidnapped." Mom is in the early stages of dementia so this is to be expected. However, on her good days she is now doing well. I'm just so glad we got her in a place where she is well taken care of now. Such a relief.


  7. E-mail received from Cousin Elaine (whose mother is the older sister of my Mother and in a nursing home now suffering from dementia)


    Thanks for sending me the update on Aunt Betty.
    Such a nice tribute to your Mom.
    I enjoyed seeing her updated bathroom but the best
    was ending with the picture of her looking ever so sweet
    while she was napping.

    Now, are we all ready to sign up for John's in-law suite in
    the future or what? Since you're the oldest, you can always
    hope that John will be able to look after you like he's doing
    for your Mom. Of course, you're in such good shape and looking
    younger than all your reunion classmates that I'm afraid when
    you need "looked after", you'll have to get that from nieces and

    Our Carole has expressed the same "worry" that you have
    about not having children to look after her. I told her that
    Ron's Aunt Evelyn (who had no children) held the proverbial
    carrot of being in her will in front of nieces and nephews and
    several of them looked after her till the day she died.


  8. Lar,

    I'll pass on your good wishes to John. You are right, he and his wife Barbara have done an outstanding job at making Mom's remaining years safe and comfortable.

    You are also right about getting all the looks and personality. That's probably why your parents stopped at you because they knew they couldn't improve on perfection. :)


  9. Mike,

    Growing up I thought everyone had a Mom like me and my brothers had. I soon found out that was not always so. We are very lucky to have this woman as our Mom. She has lived her whole life for us.
    Now that she is older, she is having problems both physically and mentally. But we'll always be there for her. We will take care of her always.


  10. Ron,

    Or more likely they said, "What have we done? What have we inflicted upon the world?"


  11. Lar,

    Nah. Bill and Millie knew with your birth that they had far surpassed all their expectations for a one of a kind, unique individual that they had brought into this world. Just think of all lives you have touched upon since your entry on this earthly plane. And then think of what all of us would have missed if you had not been in our lives. I know for myself that my life would not have been as rich and fulfilling without your friendship.

    Ah yes, Bill and Millie did indeed "inflict" you upon the world and the world is the better for it.


  12. From Mom's grand niece:

    Thanks for sending these pictures and update. I wish that Bud had a computer so Mom could see how your mom is doing. She misses her. I envy her new bathroom. We can't even get Mom in the tub now because she is afraid she will fall. I have to give her "sponge baths " ( which she doesn't like either). I would like to see Bud remodel that bathroom and put in a walk in shower with a chair.


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