Good morning, y’all. My recording device is a life saver. The recorder lets me take a day’s worth of thinking, and about 3 days worth of typing and reduce it down into a file I can download and then clean up in my standard allotment of computer time here in the Rec room. I may run a little long with today’s entry, but since it’s Sunday, maybe no one will notice.
When we left the story yesterday, I am in Asheville, North Carolina visiting my Mom in The Facility, a rehab facility. I am on a weekend pass from the Union County jail for the purpose of moving Mom into the Mountain View assisted living facility. I’ve just finished visiting Mom and I am heading down the hill to Mountain View, which is less than two miles away.
I pull into the driveway and follow the winding blacktop to the top of the mountain where the main facility is located. It is a very country club like atmosphere with the club house in the middle and the apartments and condos arranged in a U shape around the back of the club house. I am shocked at the spectacular grounds. Everything is very well maintained, even now, in the dead of Winter. The club house faces the most gorgeous view of the mountains you can imagine with nary a trailer or shanty to diminish the view. I imagine the view from the condos must be breath taking. I enter the clubhouse and find out from the information desk that I am in the wrong spot, I should have turned off halfway up the mountain for the assisted living facility. I sneak a peek in the four star restaurant, where diners are encouraged to “dress” for dinner, before leaving. I turn around and head back down the blacktop that I assume provides an excuse for tardiness on every snow day to the employees. I turn into the assisted living parking lot and make my way to the lobby.
First impressions stay with us the longest I guess, and I am immediately struck by the quality of the furniture in use. It is not your basic industrial furniture, this is the good stuff. To my right is the community TV room where they are arranging the chairs for a showing of “Gone With The Wind”. To my left is the reception desk, a small office and a conference room. Straight ahead is a lobby filled with Seniors who are being served coffee, tea and pastries by the help. I take a seat against the wall of the community room and wait for someone to notice a visitor. Several residents notice me and point me out to Barb, who finishes her duties and comes over to greet me. I tell her who I am and she very pleasantly tells me that that everything is a “go”. They’ve already assigned Mom her room, and even setup her mail box. She asks if I’d like to see the room, and I certainly do.
We walk down a hall on a very thick rich carpet, past walls decorated with large paintings and crown mouldings, and past alcoves set aside as game/puzzle rooms or book cases filled with books. All of the furniture is heavy, baroque, good stuff. Mom’s room is near the end of the hall on the left. The hall continues on to a glass door which I can see leads out to a patio area.
They have indeed put up a little mailbox next to Mom’s door with her name on it. The room has the same crown mouldings as the hall, but the carpet has changed to a more utilitarian version. Still very attractive, nicer than I’m used to, just not as nice as the hall. The room is about twelve by fourteen with big windows looking out onto the grounds and mountains behind. There is cable and internet already wired in, and the only thing missing is Mom’s furniture. The bathroom is large, completely handicap enabled with call buttons above the toilet and in the shower. There is a place for Mom to put her laundry and Barb explains that they come by once a day to pick up laundry, which they try to return the same day. Barb asks if Mom needs anything special that I don’t see, and, I truly can’t think of a thing.
Barb takes me back to the main lobby and we turn left to go to the dining hall. Mom will get her three squares here, or they can be delivered to her room if Mom is not feeling well. On the far side of the dining hall is a separate room with vending machines and a seating area, sort of like a sun room. To our left is an exit that leads out onto a big green space that has several raised planting beds already to go. Barb explains that everyone is encouraged to garden, and asks if Mom likes to garden. I reply that she does and I am hopeful this will be a factor in “grounding” Mom to Mountain View. We return to the lobby and the director, Suzanne, has arrived. Barb turns me over to Suzanne and we go into the conference room to fill out paperwork.
Suzanne is a young person, late 20’s I’d say, but she seemed to be totally dedicated to making Seniors feel comfortable. She asks a ton of questions and I try to walk the razor’s edge of telling the truth and not scaring them off from allowing Mom to stay there. I fill out the financials, write the check for first and last month, and gently explain that I’ll be hard to reach for a few months, but that Jackson was always available.
When Suzanne leaves the room to make a copy of everything for me, she hands me a copy of a long formal questionnaire. I’m guessing psychologists spent a lot of time on that puppy. Some of the questions were, “what did Mom like to do for fun (I didn’t say torture people), what did she do to stay busy (I didn’t say torture people), where had she traveled, what religion was she and on and on and on. I did the best I could with it. Again, I am mindful that I wanted to get Mom in here, and not be blackballed from all facilities in the Western North Carolina area. As Suzanne returned to the room I heard her tell someone that she would be right with them, and then we continued our discussion.
Suzanne was interested in placing Mom with the right people at dinner and lunch. She explained to me how important it was that Mom make friends with people that had similar backgrounds. I softly explained that Mom relied on family more than friends, but if she could come up with some people that Mom could bond with, it would be great. I broached the sad fact that Mom’s current friends, and some of her family, were only interested in Mom for her money. I explained that one relationship had gotten so bad that I had looked in to getting the person declared a predator. Suzanne acted appropriately concerned and explained how they helped the residents manage their cash, while also allowing the residents to feel independent. I told her I was impressed, and that somewhere down the road we’d setup a “house” account for Mom.
Suzanne asked about Mom’s favorite books and movies and I told her I thought it was an omen that they were showing “Gone With the Wind” in the TV room. I didn’t explain to her that I had always attributed Scarlet O’Hara’s famous quote in the movie as Mom’s personal mantra:
“As God is my witness, as God is my witness they’re not going to lick me. I’m going to live through this and when it’s all over, I’ll never be hungry again. No, nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill. As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again.”
Mom had always struck me as “money first” over every other consideration. I guess between her and Daddy there was sort of a balance presented to us kids, but it would have been better if they weren’t on opposite poles of the argument.
Suzanne scooped everything up for me into a neat catalog folder and I was ready to go. She confirmed that moving day was Tuesday the third. I said that I had to head back to Nunsuch, but that Jackson and his daughter would be there to handle the transition. Suzanne responded that they were ready to go today, so if that worked better for me, they were available. I thanked her, but said we’d planned on doing the furniture Saturday and Sunday. I explained that The Facility had agreed to keep her until we got the room ready. She said no problem, that they worked with The Facility all of the time, so if we needed to make any changes they would accommodate us. She asked if I had made the moving arrangements and I told her that Jackson and I were going to do the move ourselves. She offered the card of a mover that worked for them “all of the time”, if my plans changed. I thanked her and got up to leave. I stopped dead in the doorway due to a near stroke.
Sitting in the lobby guest chair, under a sparsely sprouted patch of purple hair, was my sister, Charlotte. Charlotte was dressed up like she was going to church. She is made up like Mimi from the “Drew Carey Show”. I can’t recall now if she was wearing a fur around her neck, or if her coat had a fur collar. I just remember spikey purple hair on a field of makeup set in a bed of fur.
“Hey bro”, she chimed out.
Feeling the heat rising in my ears, I did remarkably well to respond, “What are you doing here?”
“Well, I’ve been over visiting Mother and she said she was moving here, so I wanted to see what it looked like”, Charlotte purrs sweetly.
“Oh”, I respond, but my mind is thinking, you didn’t visit for long because I just left there and I didn’t see you.
“They’ve already got Mom assigned a room, maybe they can take you to see it”, I say.
I look at Barb and she picks up on the cue and offers to show Charlotte around. When they get out of ear shot I tell Suzanne that under no circumstances is she to discuss pricing with my sister. I explained to Suzanne that Charlotte was one of the people solely interested in Mom for her money and that if she thought that Mountain View might adversely effect her inheritance she’d work to confuse Mom. Suzanne assures me that they will keep everything confidential and I thank her profusely.
I leave Mountain View wondering if Charlotte knows my next destination. Have the Witches of West Asheville conjured up a vision that details my weekend plans, and, out of a desperation to maintain their coven, plotted to thwart my attempts to get Mom professional help? Currently, I’m headed to the condo to make some phone calls and await Jackson’s arrival from Chattanooga. I’ll update him on the way to our visit with Mom about Charlotte’s latest escapade. I’m sure he’ll be amused.