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.