Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Move to Assisted Living Part 1: BB's Send Off

The weeks leading up to (and after) moving Mom have been some of the most emotional times in my life. After we got the call that there was a spot for Mom we went into action mode and started making arrangements for BB to move to her new home. I probably spent 10 hours on the phone with my Dad and brother that week going over checklists, crying, second guessing ourselves, and trying to laugh at what we would pack.

My brother flew in on Friday and I arrived Saturday Morning just as she was being dropped off by her Jazzercise instructor (and dear dear friend) Susan. They made Mom the Jazzgirl of the month and gave her gifts everyday and took her to brunch on Saturday. Susan and those women deserve their own post one day as they are truly angels sent to watch over our BB.

It sounds morbid and odd but I thought it would be a good idea to take BB around Asheville to her favorite spots so she could see some of her friends and be out on the town "one last time".  Saturday we started out with lunch at the Smoky Park Supper Club and she got to watch the geese and ducks on the river. 
This is a funky cool spot down on the water off Riverside Drive set in a building made out of shipping containers. If you can't stop to eat at least stop by for a drink and sit outside!

Next we headed over to the River Arts District Art Walk to visit two of her favorite people, Molly Courcelle and Bee Sieburg. Bee and Molly used to own Gardener's Cottage where Mom worked for years. They are now both full-time amazingly talented artists in the Wedge building! 
"Lavender in France" by Bee

"See What is Promised" by Molly

Molly and Bee both have hearts of pure gold and are so wonderful every time we see them. I actually bought my first Bee Sieburg painting on this trip and love that I will remember the day, and my companions, when it was purchased.

After that we went to Gardener's Cottage to visit Libby Endry. Libby is like family to us and is seriously the sweetest (and prettiest) shop owner. If you are ever in Asheville please stop by her shop. It is a beautiful cottage in Biltmore Village filled with the most beautiful plants, flowers and gifts. 
She carries Juliska, Bee's paintings, Nest Candles and anything for your garden or home. BB adored working here years ago and you can tell when you walk in how perfect it was for her.

That night for dinner our friends from New Orleans were in town and invited us over for dinner. 
This is where Max and I had our wedding reception and a meal out there with these friends is always always a wonderful time. They say friends are the family you can choose and that couldn't be more true about this crowd. They love BB like one of their own and it was just a special evening.

Sunday morning we cruised through the Biltmore House grounds on our way to lunch. 

If you aren't visiting the house you can drive right on by wind through the estate via car. 
I would have loved to stop and take pictures in the Garden but time is always ticking...unfortunately.

We then headed to our faux "Mother's Day Brunch" at Fig in Biltmore Village. Fig is one of my absolute favorite restaurants in Asheville. I will say that while Brunch is outstanding...make sure you go for lunch or dinner so you can order the Farfelle Bolognese. Just trust me on this one.
We had a table of 10 and all toasted to Moms (AKA BB) and just had a glorious celebration. This party then continued on to my parents' house with more wine on the deck and going through the thousands of old pictures downstairs. It truly was the most perfect afternoon. Best friends, Rose, Motown, old pictures, memories, story telling and Mom. We ended up ordering Pizza because nobody wanted to leave. 

I couldn't have imagined a more perfect last weekend for BB;  at home, surrounded by friends and doing the things she loves the most. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Where is My Fucking Jambalaya*

(*Disclaimer: This post is partially meant to be comedic, but also to give you insight into how grief with Alzheimer's works. I promise I'm not "milking" this situation. As Nancy Reagan phrased it, this is the "long goodbye".)

I have two posts typed up about moving Mom into an Assisted Living Facility. Part 1 was the weekend before, a somewhat "last hurrah" tour of all of her favorite spots in Asheville culminating with a boozy brunch at Fig and an afternoon of rosé and going through old pictures on the best deck in the South.

Part 2 is the gut wrenching Monday and days following after we moved her.

But today's topic is a strange one. It feels selfish and needy and bratty. 

We have lost BB. We have been losing her for years. She has been stolen and slowly whittled down by Alzheimer's. And while she is still here on this Earth she is gone from our daily lives. She isn't by my dad's side when he wakes up in the morning. She isn't downstairs looking and calling for her beloved Boykin, Gumbo. She isn't at Jazzercise telling all the women there that they are beautiful and how much she loves them. And most recently, she wasn't with my Dad when he came to visit this past weekend. I feel very lucky to have parents that are still married at this point in life so for her to not be with my Dad is surreal. There was no trip to Polished for pedicures. No opportunities for pictures with the kids. No doing her makeup and drying her hair. She was missing and missed.

We sat down at Roosters on Friday for lunch and my father and I looked at each other and just started crying. BB would have been there and wanted a bloody just like dad and would have ordered the Mushroom Pizza and clumsily fed it to herself, possibly putting some of the onion rings in her chardonnay and maybe drinking ketchup. But she would have been there. 

We feel lost. We miss her.

We didn't get to have a big service to celebrate this portion of her life coming to an end. We didn't get a steady flow of visitors and flowers and meals. We didn't get a second line to "A Closer Walk With Thee" in Lakelawn Cemetery. What we did get was a harrowing Monday morning with two LL Bean bags full of her favorite clothes, some stuffed animals and some framed pictures. And moved her into what will be the last room she ever lives in. 

And what I really want to know is WHERE IS MY FUCKING JAMBALAYA? Where is my closure? Where is my big sobbing breakdown and then my chance to move on with my life?? The big celebration of how BB was and how we want to remember her? How am I supposed to move on while she is in limbo? In this place that I wouldn't want to be. I know she is well taken care of, hell she has already had more showers there than we could have convinced her to take. But it isn't where I imagined my beautiful mother to spend her last years. Alzheimer's is the cruelest disease I can imagine. I don't want her to become one of the patients that stares into the air. My gorgeous and loving mother reduced to a shell of her former self. 

I'm mourning my mother. I  know she is still with us, please understand that I really do get that mentally. It is just going to take my heart some time to fully grasp this life. Most people visit grandparents in nursing homes. I will now be visiting my mother. She should be in her garden. 

PS-Please don't send food. Seriously. I've gained the 15 pounds my dad has lost. Stress and grief work differently on women and men. Send some uppers and Leese Fitch. And maybe Ouiser Boudreaux so I can take a whack at her.