BARRY’S JOURNEY No. 11
First days in assisted living
I am writing this during our latest blizzard here in Minnesota. The roads were so bad last night that I couldn’t get out to check on Barry at his new assisted living place. I felt guilty and worried. I thought it all would be a breeze once he moved in. But it is much harder
than I thought it would be.
Friends and family helped with the move. We set up Barry’s room that we now call his bachelor pad! I got him a TV and brought a comfy chair from home. My high school friend gave us a small table with two chairs where Barry can eat if he’d like. The bachelor pad is looking good — but it’s not home and Barry knows it!
On his first day, I stayed to have dinner with him down in the dinning room. I found out you need to plan ahead to nab a place in the elevator. There is a long line because everyone is excited for dinner!
Hi, I’m the new guy
We sat with a nice guy who told us about his life — but kept repeating it over and over until Barry said, “You already told us that already!” I told Barry to be polite! Then suddenly Barry got up and walked around the dinning room introducing himself to
everyone saying, “Hi, I’m the new guy!” For a minute, I saw the old Barry I knew and loved.
Since then Barry has not mixed much with the others on his floor, but I have! Each evening I say, “Let’s go out and visit!” So we head to the TV area where the same crew sits each night. Sometimes we walk the tunnels between all the buildings to get some exercise.
Why I still worry
Barry continues to look forward to his days at the adult daycare center (aka the club). For now, the county is paying for three days a week. Whenever I call him, he answers by saying he is going to the club — even if it is not one of his scheduled days. He just loves
So why do I worry? Once he has left his floor and got lost in the tunnels. Now he wears a security bracelet that sets off an alarm if he tries to leave the floor. More freedom lost.
Then in his first week, I picked him up to go to church. All was going well until he started to say “F* you” to me during the sermon. Couldn’t he have done that during the hymn? So we moved into the fellowship hall and ate donuts. Was he angry because of all the changes in his life? I don’t know, but I’m not sure I’m up for trying church again. Yet each week he asks to go. Maybe this Sunday, we will try again.
Love in his own words
On this snowy day, I wondered if Barry was able to get to the club. When my driveway and street were finally plowed, I drove over to the club to check on him. There he was drinking coffee in his recliner. When I walked in he said, “I’m having a good day!” All was okay and I could return home to finish preparing my taxes. Just as I was leaving, his social worker gave me a love letter that Barry had tried to write. He has difficulty writing now so an assistant wrote down what he wanted to say:
Nancy Carlson I Love You. Thank you for being yourself. I like growing old with you. I like raising our children. I love you with all my heart. — Barry McCool.
Putting my husband of more than 30 years in assisted living is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. I can’t decide if his letter makes me feel worse or better. But I am glad to have it and share with our three kids.