I knew from the start that for Dad this was a momentous, life changing, and possibly terrible thing. I know how much I love the space that I live in, my things just where they always are, the way my house smells, the way my favorite chair feels when I flop down into it after a long day. We become so accustomed to the space we live in, we depend on it, we gravitate to it, it IS what is home to us. How do you tell a man that has lived a long, full, independant life, whose life has slowly gotten smaller and simpler, that the one best pleasure he has, his home, must be given up ?
There are positive aspects to this move as well. Dad is a very social being, since his strokes he has been at home and much less out in the world. This affords an opportunity to meet and interact socially with people. The dynamics between he and his second wife changed from husband and wife to patient and care giver, this was now an opportunity for them to spend time together once again as partners. But even the positive aspects of this change, this new stage ,did not make it less heart wrenching.
One day when visiting it occurred to me that the process of life comes full circle regarding space. We are born, we take up very little space. As we grow, our rooms get larger. We marry (or not) and find we need several rooms to hold all the things we are acquiring as we "live". We reach the age nearing retirement and find we need less space, we simplify and downgrade. This is the stage when our spaces or rooms become smaller once again. The progression continues for some to……….. one small room. We are back where we were as a child, occupying a very small space. It still brings a tear to my eye when I picture Dad in his recliner near his window in his small room. I want so much for him to be happy in this new space, I cannot seem to coax from him the sum of his emotions. It is difficult to gauge his reaction to this vast change in his circumstance. I want everyone there to love him as I love him, I want them to know who he was, to know that he had a whole big life before he was moved into this small room.
I must show them, they need to see for themselves. I put together a small photo album including pictures from the beginning of my Dads life as a child, a teenager, a middle aged man and then as he is now. The nurses were very grateful for the chance to see him as he once was, and thanked me. The jury is still out on how this will go for Dad, but in the mean time I will give him love and attention as much and as often as I can, I will urge others to think about those they know that are perhaps in "a small room" somewhere to reach out to them, give them your time, give them your love, because your time really is the most precious thing that you have to give.