The Choice

I have chosen a memory facility… the most difficult decision of my life.

Today I signed a paper that says I will take my husband to live there – not here.

No words can describe how I feel.  I can barely do anything because of the pain in my heart,  the lump in my stomach.  I feel like crying all the time.  Sitting alone in the family room after Bo has gone to bed,  lying in bed at 2 am unable to sleep,  driving down the highway, walking Emma around the park —  no matter where I am,  the pain and the tears follow me.

My guilt is unbearable.  I’ve signed a paper that ends life as we know it.  A paper that will cause Bo to feel betrayed and alone, lost and confused.

How will I choose the day?  I have a month to plan his room,  to label all of his clothes, buy a bed and mattress,  find a mover,  buy his supplies ….  It’s like the countdown to my execution.

I have visited five times;  Bo has visited and had lunch twice (without knowing where he was or why); Emma dog has visited three times(pet friendly!);  our friend Michael went  too. I stood in the hall and watched the other 22 residents, and I listened to the activity director as she discussed the day’s news with a small group.  I stood in his now empty room,  and  I looked at the side garden, trying to picture Bo picking up leaves.

It’s a beautiful place,  new and clean. He’ll have his own room with bath and half-kitchen (refrigerator, but no stove.) His room will be across from the dining room (near the ice cream) and close to the main living-activity rooms.

It’s a continuing care community, so outside of the memory center there are 150 people living in independent and assisted apartments that surround a beautiful open atrium area where residents can sit, walk,  enjoy the lovely landscaping.  Inside, is an elegant, living area,  a restaurant for all meals, a theater, beauty shop, exercise room. But Bo will only be able to go there when accompanied.   Alzheimer’s patients must be behind a locked door in the special section called Spring Cottage.

Will I see him?  Of course, I will.  Almost every day, I’m sure, and we will continue our car rides,  ice cream stops,  walks, time together.  Emma will always be there too, and  Bo can come home for short or long visits … whatever works for us.  But he will be living there and I’ll be here.

So,  today I signed papers for a 30-day trial. I sat there in the office and cried as I went through all of the forms, Emma lying with her head on my foot.  And I kept asking myself if I am doing the right thing.  Am I doing it too soon?  Am I doing it at the right time?

For Bo?  For me?

courtyard_cherry_hill                       CH-Lobby

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9 Responses to The Choice

  1. Christine Fuller says:

    You are doing the right thing, Nancy. For Bo, for you. In the end, you’ll realize it’s good for both of you. Thoughts and prayers are with you. Christine Bailey Fuller

  2. Jamie says:

    I’m not sure how or when, but I came across your blog some time ago and have been silently following along. I’m coming out of lurking today to say that I am sending lots of thoughts, strength and peace to you and Bo as you take this next step in life. I can’t even imagine how heart-wrenching this must be.

  3. Cheryl Simone says:

    Dearest Nancy;
    Although we have already communicated about this, I know this is heart breaking for you, Bo, and all of your many friends and family who have been watching your troubles up close and afar through this blog. We are all with you in these very difficult times. We cry with you as well for the person Bo once was who we all miss, and for the person he has become over time. There is no right or wrong time to make this decision. If you need help with the move or anything, please call and I will be there.

  4. thom sweeney says:

    I am sitting here with tears in my eyes. I can’t imagine. Yet I can. When the subject of “Difficult Decisions” comes up, this one is SURELY at the top of our list, right Nancy?

  5. Arleen Stolzenberger says:

    I sat with tears flowing as I read your blog. I know what a difficult decision this is and I know you will get through this. Let your emotions flow and it will help release some of your stress. You are not betraying Bo. You are just going through the next step in your journey that will be good for both you. You both are in our prays.

  6. Linda Forrest says:

    Nancy, such a hard decision but after the initial doubts, you’ll realize that signing the paper did not ended life as you know it — the disease did that several years ago, yet you have remained the rock in Bo’s life. But even rock erodes under pressure and stress, and following your blog I can see where it has been taking it’s toll on you emotionally. Do not feel guilty for doing something that will benefit both of you — Bo will certainly make new friends, he’ll still see you and Emma on a regular basis — but you will have a bit more peace of mind knowing that he’s safe and can’t wander off or let Emma out without realizing it. If there’s anything I can do to help, feel free to get in touch, and know that my prayers are with you.

  7. Marko says:

    Hang in there, Aunt Nancy. Know that you are in the best position to know what Uncle Bo’s needs are and how to best meet them. It’s choice you think is best out of all of the rotten alternatives that Alzheimer’s has dealt you both. You are doing what you think, in your heart, is right for the great man you love and one who never wanted to be a burden on anyone. He’s got a heart of gold and, while the disease has taken much of his capacity to think, the Uncle Bo I grew up with would understand and agree. That won’t make bringing him there any easier, but doing it soon, when he has a chance to integrate into his environment, should help make it a smoother transition. I hope to visit in the fall; but am thinking of you both daily.

  8. dianne says:

    The setting will change but your chapters will continue. You are the heroine dear Nancy. Perusing the responses you have a lot of loved ones supporting your decision. Be kind to yourself…

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