“Marion deserves MORE than the best. All the best, and then more of the best.”
Those were among the last words that Paul, my father-in-law, impressed upon me during his last few days of life. He had survived a long battle with dementia, only to be thwarted by a broken hip and his mind’s inability to comprehend that he was indeed lame. It was heart wrenching to experience.
Left in the wake was his confusion was his wife of over 70 years, Marion. Marion is so much more than more than a mother-in-law to me. She is my cohort my confidant, my sounding board…. she is a second mother, and a dear friend. When Paul passed away a few weeks after his fall, our family was faced with a decision: Where should Marion go? She can’t possibly continue living in their home by herself?
I knew that the best answer was to move my mother-in-law into my home. It just made sense: my career as a social media consultant and community builder makes it possible for me to work from home, and therefore be available to help out my mother-in-law as she goes through her day. As an aside, I was already familiar with the day to day responsibilities of the basic needs of my in-laws, as I’d been helping with their day to day care full time for a year already.
So, it made perfect sense to move Marion in with us. We could love her up family style, and she would benefit from our exuberant and family oriented lifestyle. The biggest hurdle was our pets. Marion gave birth to 7 children during her lifetime, and as a result, she had no room in her life for pets. The thought of her living with my over-friendly cats and nervous (large) labradoodle kept me up several nights. Finally, I decided that we would just all have to get along, and accept the challenges along the way.
Long story short: Marion moved in. and guess what? From the night she moved in, she had the best sleep she’d had in years! My husband over-planted our deck with cascading mounds of flowers, and we placed her special recliner at just the perfect spot in our family room so that she could take in the splendor of our territorial view and the amazing summer flowers. We spent our afternoons in the warm sun with big band music in the background, and drank out of her best crystal every afternoon while toasting to each other and spoiling our dinner by eating luscious fattening hors d’oeuvres. Some nights, Marion choose to only eat ice cream for dinner, and who were we to deny her 92 years of experience? She called our home “The first layer of Heaven” and we knew we had succeeded in providing her with the loving environment and care that we had promised to Paul.
The rest of the story is still too painful to remember and soon to tell, but I can tell you that there is nothing like the feeling that comes from knowing that you’ve given your loved ones better than the best.