December 29, 2009 – SUMMER CAMP



The past two days Mom and I have been packing up Dad’s things for the nursing home.  What a surreal event.  She wrote his name in permanent marker on everything from his toothbrush to his loafers.  We ironed name labels into all of his clothing.  She even packed pajamas – something he’s never worn.

I took the advice of my best friend, Jac: Just pretend you’re packing him up for summer camp!  As silly as it sounds, I kept saying that to myself and aloud to Mom during the process.  It helped to somewhat alleviate the burning realization that we’re packing him up for a place from which he’ll never return.  It helped me feel more like we were packing him up for a fun adventure he was going off to have versus the tough reality that he’s leaving us and things will never be the same.  As silly as that all sounds, it actually worked a little.  We got through the ordeal in a very militant checklist sort of way, pushing back the guilt-laden thoughts that have a way of bubbling to the surface when you least want them to.

As New Years Day quickly approaches, signaling the day everything will cease to be the same in our family, I know I have to start focusing on me and the next chapters of my life.  Maybe spirits above interceded to insure that I had no professional projects to report to this past quarter so that I could focus on matters at home and work on my documentary.  Regardless, it’s time to return to the Land of Me whether I want to or not.  I have to get my work priorities in order, work on my dating life, and propel myself in directions I know I need to go.

I hope to travel some of these roads with my mom by my side and keep a watchful eye and caring hand on her as well.  Whether she wants it or not, the next chapter of her life is about to begin as well.  I need to be sure that she is not totally alone as she traverses roads she’s never experienced without my dad before.  Her life partner – HER BEST FRIEND! – is taking a fork in the road after travelling by her side for fifty years and this is going to be the roughest, rockiest patch she’s ever known.


6 Responses to “December 29, 2009 – SUMMER CAMP”

  1. Jill said

    You are very blessed to have each other-stay strong (as you always are) and know that soo many people have you in their thoughts and prayers! Wish I was there to give you the biggest hug ever (and a massage or 2) but know that I am constantly thinking about you guys. Love you all so much!

    • Thanks, buddy, the hug from a distance helps! 🙂 Todd says he also wished you were here to dole out a massage or two! LOL Loooooove you!! Happy New Year to your family! xo

  2. Karrie said

    Thinking about you non-stop!!!! If you need ANYTHING over the next couple days, just call!!!! Love you all so much!!!

  3. Cheryl Berlin said

    Joleen, I know today is going to be rough for you and your family, but I wanted to share something that I thought was good karma. We spoke a couple weeks ago, when I told you I had hired National to take care of my mom and that the two boys had been her aids this summer (good news: her new caregiver company is doing well and charges much less). Last night, my husband and I were out to dinner with our friends Carrie Newman and Collin Lockhart. Carrie started saying that her good friends Frank and Amy couldn’t join us because they wanted to spend time with his dad before moving him to a nursing home today… he has Alzheimer’s…the family suffered a terrible blow recently… when I realized they were talking about your family! I’ve met them a number of times – in fact, I think my daughter and I were with Frank and Frankie on Carrie and Collin’s boat this summer. Anyway, please know that I’m thinking of you and your family today and hope this move brings everyone well-deserved peace and stability. Although my mom’s situation is much different, I’m happy to say she’s doing the best she can at a senior residence. I wish you all the best in the new year.

    • Cheryl, what a SMALL WORLD! That’s incredible that you reached out to me after seeing our story on WDIV-Channel 4 (you were the only stranger who tracked me down after that story and CALLED me) – and then it turns out that you have a connection to my family already! 🙂 It’s these types of things that allow me to see some magical wonder in the process we’re going through and think that perhaps it all makes sense in God’s ultimate plan. Hopefully, we can actually meet someday! Dad’s move-in day at the nursing home yesterday was the worst day of my life but thank goodness for a very close family. Hopefully it will all get better and easier from here. For everyone. ~Joleen

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