Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The jo report

did i mention we were in mexico for a couple of weeks? and did i mention that for the two months before that, aunty jo was in hospital - at the grey nuns, a day trip from here?

i did?

well, i know i didn't tell you this bit.

the day we left for mexico, everything was going tickety-boo. ok, it was 54 degrees below zero, and my car broke down, and i had a migraine, but other than that, everything was going tickety-boo. i aimed to be home mid-afternoon, with one last task to accomplish, finalize my packing, run the dishwasher, and head to the airport.

when i walked in the door at 3:05, the phone was ringing. it was the head nurse at venta care, a northeast edmonton nursing home. "we have a bed for your aunt," she said, "do you want it?" i stammered and hemmed and hawed (furiously texting mo at the same time) until she said, curtly, "i can't save a bed for two weeks." and that was that.

but of course the second that's that, you worry you've made a big mistake. with mo AWOL (or in a two-hour meeting, whatever), i called the social worker at the hospital. "take the bed," she said, "there's a 5400-person waiting list."

i text this to mo.

when i called the head nurse back i got her voicemail. the facility's switchboard confirmed she was gone for the day. "that can't be!," i wailed. "i talked to her just five minutes ago!" but it was so. "well, can anybody else help me?" claire was kind enough to offer to stay late, if i could get there by 4PM. "i'm on my way."

i text this to mo.

remember, i have no car and it's 54 degrees below zero. meaning that i when i call for a cab, i'm on hold with dispatch for a looooooooooooooooooooong time. 3:19 turns into 3:26 turns into 3:31 and i'm starting to panic. i hold with the landline on ear 1 and use the cellphone at ear 2. call mo: still no answer. call my parents' place: busy. call my mom's cell. turns out she's actually with jo - at the grey nuns hospital, a day trip from here. yellow cab tells ear 1 that my call is being answered in the order it was received. at 3:34 i get through to my dad on ear 2: can he drive from southeast edmonton to northwest edmonton, pick me up and get me to northeast edmonton by 4PM? he can, he says, and he will!

three minutes later he calls back to say, oops, i forgot, your mother has the car and she's at grey nuns.

by this time my texts to mo contain language i'm actually hoping she doesn't receive.

long story long, i get to venta care, claire and i whirl through in about five minutes, and i say: we'll take it.

text mo.

the actual move happened while we were in mexico, and there were some ins and outs i'm still not clear about - the match was broken, the match was mended, there was a short stay somewhere interim - but she's definitely got a bed at venta care, so the last few days we've been catching up to the big move.

she hates it, of course. "a ROOM? you expect me to live in a ROOM? i had a whole apartment! you have a house!" well, we say, really the whole complex is your living space - think of it that way! "i like to cook for myself," she says, "i like to buy my own groceries." oh, jo: you mean that pound of hamburger with the best-before date in may? or are you referring to microwaving the frozen meals-on-wheels you leave on the counter for a day and a half? we ask, how's the food here? "oh, the food's okay," says jo. then, recalling herself, "i have such a sore mouth, though." ("hmm," said the nurse thoughtfully, "doesn't slow her down much at mealtime.") don't worry about your sore mouth, we crow, there's a dentist on staff! we'll put in the paperwork for a consult! she looks at us levelly, then changes the subject.

"where's all my things?" "in storage, jo. everything's in storage." "what about my furniture? my double bed, 2 bedside tables and a dresser?" "your bedroom furniture is in storage." "in the living room i had a sofa and a chair, and two long tables - my TV sat on one of them - and my dining room table was round: where is all of that?" "that's all in storage too." "what about the things in the kitchen, my dishes and so on?" "storage." "eh?" she hasn't heard us. "STORAGE! IT'S ALL IN STORAGE!"


what we didn't put in storage was her walker, so that we could bring it to her at the first opportunity. we were relieved to see that ventacare had given her a loaner so she could get by. we apologized profusely for her inconvenience, said we'd thank the ventacare people for the loaner and return it. she barely flits an eye in our direction. "no," she says, "this is my walker." i think she's misunderstood, so i try again. "they loaned you one when you moved in, but this one, here, this is your actual walker. remember, the one without the cushion?" "that's not my walker," she says. mo tries: "jo, hon, it is! i brought it from your apartment myself! look, it has your name on it." "well," she says, "that's strange. i don't know why my name would be on that walker when this is the one that belongs to me." we're slackjawed. "look," she says, "how mine has a little basket, and a cushion on the seat...." and bright black paint, we can see now, and shiny reflective decals, and unpebbled wheels.

she's got to be kidding. she spent years resisting the walker. and now she's a freakin' conoisseur?

ultimately, i think it bodes well for ventacare. i think the way to keep jo happy is to ensure she always has something new to despise. next week i'll sign her up for a perm at the in-house hair salon. nothing will make her love her tablemates more.