Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Move

I'm writing the story of the loss of my brother and mother, a great lesson for me in love and living.  You can find day 1 here, day 2 here, and day 3 here.

It was a day by day challenge as we walked the road with my mother.  We still had one daughter at home, her senior year of high school, and the two oldest were graduating college a week apart in two different states.

There is a great need for advocates for seniors. As we began the process of organizing care in our home, somehow I was put in touch with a very loving and knowledgeable woman.  I don't remember how we connected.  But she told me something that eventually helped us make a choice for my mother we would not have been able to financially handle.

My parents had little savings, so that made the care choices very few.  After we settled her in our home we began to investigate how to get people to come help us. My father had been cared for by the VA and so we looked to them for initial help.  Let me say that as good as the medication care was, the home care was lacking and someday I will write the story that haunts me everyday concerning the day my dad died.  But for now, let me say that the VA never contacted us about any benefits after dad passed.  It was because of this woman I learned about Survivor Benefits.  If you are married to a veteran and he dies you are entitled to benefits.  Never did the VA contact us and tell us benefits were waiting.  And it was months before I found out. Once the paperwork was completed it would be over 2 years before we received any money. Lack of benefit personel that came to do the home visits and the backlog of applications held up everything. We received our check three weeks after mother died.

I tell you all this because certainly this has happened to someone else or maybe you are in the middle of a similar scenario.  Let me know if I can help.

While all this is happening, mother is in our home.  We faced many challenges.  An oxygen tank that held 60lbs of liquid oxygen with a 30 foot cord to allow her to walk around the house. Every week it had a to be filled and that had to be scheduled with my work.  Pill containers had to be filled and more than once did that all become confused when she would take a week's medicine all at one time. There wer dr. appts. that required portable oxygen tanks. And the loss of her wedding rings that she swore were stolen.  We found them the day she passed in a cardboard box she kept in her bed. Paramedics were called more times than I could count when she would have respiratory distress.

We also had many blessings during this time.  Our oldest daughters graduated from college a week apart, the youngest daughter graduated from high school and then the first wedding was celebrated.  Mother didn't get to attend all the events but she did make it to the wedding.

About two years into her stay with us she began to fall.  We suspected she was having TIA's, but a significant fall during the middle of the night confirmed for us that she could no longer be at home alone.  Providing a caregiver in our home 40 hours a week was financially impossible.  Mother's only income was her Social Security.  It was about that time that we became aware of a fantastic possibility within a stone's throw of our house.

You may not be familiar with personal care homes.  In our neighborhood there is a couple that owns three.  They are homes just like ours that this couple purchased and converted into assisted living facilities.  You would never know.  There is nothing about them that looks any different that the other homes.  We found out that one of them is two houses down the street from us.  Each residence was home to 5 adults. After making inquiries and discussing finances we were able to secure a room for mother. This blessing was the owner agreed to take mother's SS for payment with an agreement that when the survivor benefits were disbursed we would pay the balance.

So in Febraury of 2007, two years after we lost dad, we moved mother two doors down to a home that looked very much like our own.  Let me say it was not without issues.  There was an adjustment period that was very stressful for me, but the fact that I could place a baby monitor in her room with the receiver end in my kitchen and hear every conversation was a blessing.  I could go to work with minimal worry.  At the end of my work day I would make a cup of coffee and walk over to spend time. On weekends I would wheel her over to the house and have her spend time with all of us.  It really was a perfect arrangement.

And then April 15, 2008 she had a major stroke and everything changed.


  1. this was a very hard time, but I can see that God provided blessings along the way. (((HUGS)))

  2. Too much too close together. Grace is a powerful thing, I have no idea how you got through all this without a total nervous breakdown, but I do know your Faith and Grace must have been flowing on tap for you. I'm glad your sharing, and especially about the survivor benefits - how wrong the VA made that so difficult.

  3. I am very sorry to hear about what had happened to your mother. And it's just tragic how the VA benefits did not arrive when it was most needed. This is a very cautionary tale you have shared to us all, and we should all pay heed to this. This is especially true for those among us who struggle every day, to ensure a life of dignity for the men and women in uniform who have sacrificed much for us in the past.

    Brad Post @ Jan Dils