June 26, 2007 – THE LONG SHORT DRIVE


My mother and I visited Sunrise Assisted Living today.  Under her one condition: that we wouldn’t tell my father.  Agreed.  I mean, it’s not like we’re signing him up for anything; we’re simply doing necessary research in pieces.

The building is a mere half mile drive from my parents’ driveway; its location couldn’t be any more perfect.  The place had a white veranda deck sprinkled with big white Adirondack rocking chairs and lots of wall-length windows.  Inside, white paddle fans stirred the clean air and it truly looked like our home away from home, Hilton Head Island, SC.  If you were to remove the “where” from the formula, it seemed comfortable and homey.

Mom and I met with Sylvia, the Director of Community Relations.  She was a pleasant person, a caring older woman who seems to love her job dearly.  She made us feel comfortable about our discomfort in being there.  She asked about us, our family, our fears, our hopes, our current state of mind.  She said she looked forward to meeting my dad someday – and somehow I believed her. 

She offered us a tour of the first floor.  There are different types of rooms you can choose, from simple to more spacious.  There’s a resident dog and cat – Dad loves dogs.  There is a long list of offered activities, from arts and crafts to visits to the zoo.  We learned that, for an extra fee, we could even personalize his care, like having someone run with him twice a week.  We could almost see him fitting in here – if he absolutely one day had to.

Then we saw the cafeteria.  The hardest part of the visit was the cafeteria.  It was clean, but I wouldn’t call it pleasant – everyone seemed to be eating in silence.  No, I cannot see my ultra-social dad fitting in here.  He’s so much more vibrant than this.

We left with polite goodbyes.  We walked out in silence.  We are not ready for this.  Luckily, he’s not ready for this.

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