I’m taking today off from visiting my mom. I usually see her two or three times a week, so spending today writing about my DH adventures doesn’t mean I’m neglecting her. But I thought I would mention her here in the interest of saying something about the non-DH tasks that go into a digital humanist’s day.
My mom is widowed; we lost Dad three years ago last month. And in the time since then, she has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s-like dementia. So I have spent a lot of time visiting her and helping her through the changes that come with this part of her life.
In June 2012, I extended a trip to Austin, the town where she and Dad built their life together and where I grew up, from a planned ten days to the entire month. I had heard from our extended family that they were worried about Mom, and I had hoped to use a trip down for THATCamp LAC as an opportunity for an extended visit. As things turned out, Mom needed to move out of the house where she and Dad had lived for the past thirty years. She was just too anxious living there alone. So I researched senior living communities and found one near her church. She moved in mid-June, and for the rest of the summer I flew back and forth between New England and Austin, arranging the estate sale, remodeling to get the house ready for the market, and putting the house up for sale.
We had a fairly calm year between summer 2012 and spring 2013. Mom made friends in her new community and kept up with her church activities until she started getting lost when she went out in her car on her own. We sold the car, and Mom focused on activities at the senior community. I visited Austin more often, juggling taking Mom to medical appointments with teaching and not doing a very good job of either.
And then in May 2013, Mom called to say she wanted to move to where I live. The process of the move was a difficult one, just as her own mother’s had been more than twenty years ago. But once again, Mom settled in at her new home. She made friends and enjoyed the group activities.
Mom moved into the memory care unit at her assisted living residence during the holiday period at the end of last semester. The immediate cause of the move was water damage caused by a burst pipe upstairs from her apartment, and she was one of a number of residents displaced by the event. But as the nursing director and I looked over Mom’s records, we realized that she would be safer if she remained in the memory unit.
So now I visit every other day or so. Mom’s always pleased to see me. She introduces me to everyone we encounter, proudly saying, “This is my daughter.” We play bingo with the other residents and look through photo albums on our own. Now that the weather is better, we’re starting to go out now and then. We went out for lunch last Saturday.
Soon, Mom’s favorite barbecue restaurant will reopen–they’re closed for renovations at the moment. She’ll be very happy to have her chicken with potato salad and coleslaw, along with a bottle of lemonade. And she already likes the spring sweater I’m knitting her.