Retirement Living

It’s June 19th, I’ve officially been in Arizona about 6 weeks now, and this is the story of how I came to live in a retirement community for the remainder of my duration.

D, kiddo, and Jen made their way back for a visit Tuesday afternoon. I arranged for someone to hang out with mom for a few hours while I made the trip to pick them up. It’s about 4 hours round trip, assuming you don’t hit traffic. This was my chance to see my loves and Jen offered to stay with mom overnight so I could get some family time. I rented a car for a week so we’d have transportation while they’re here and for a few days after. When I picked up the rental, I was assured it just came out of the shop, but I’ve been filling leaky tires every day. Just add that to the fun list of this week, haha. It also sounds like a ball joint is going back, but 180 miles round-trip should be fine, right? Thankfully, picking them up went smoothly, however, mid-trip back up the mountain, I get a phone call from a panicked friend about mom’s AC not working, breakers tripping, and it being about 105 degrees inside, while it’s about 115-120 degrees outside.

We arrive to mom’s a short time later and holy hell is it miserable in her place. The dogs are panting, she’s irritable… well more than usual, and we’re having to reset a breaker or two every 10 mins. Poor D and kiddo – this was NOT was I was hoping for. Granted I wasn’t totally naive to think this trip would be without drama from my mother, but little did I know just how much would follow.

D gets in GO mode, ready to fix what he can, all the while, poor kiddo is just sitting there, seeing my 75 lb mom for the first time in 4 years, struggling to breathe. Happy Vacation, kid! Here’s a skeleton with skin stretched over her bones, hope you don’t have nightmares! So we get some things rigged up, get air flow – hot air, but air flow – and we head to our hotel while Jen stays behind to get settled.

We arrive to the hotel, get checked in and head to our room. It’s 120 degrees in the room and no working AC. Back up the hill we go to get another room. After the pleasantries and apologies, we’re given the room right next to the other, non-AC room. This one DID have working AC, however, the “high” setting would take the entire trip to cool the room down. And it was dirty. Back up the hill one last time and D is hot. Not only temperature hot, but pissed that we’re still dicking around with rooms. We upgrade to a 2-room suite so kiddo can have her own room, TV, and bathroom and we can enjoy some private adult time. At least this room was decent enough for our stay and the AC worked, that’s all that mattered. By this time, it’s after 7 pm, we head down to the casino attached to the hotel to find some food because we’re starving.

Would you believe it… every fucking place was closed. At this point, the day is fucking comical, we’re getting hangry, tired, and just ready to throw in the towel. We pile in the car in search of sustenance and pull up to a Denny’s. Big menu, easy things to choose from to calculate kiddo’s diabetic needs, and just food at this point. Sign on the door says “To-Go Orders Only.” We sit and wait anyway and it looks like the whole place is one hostess, one cook, and one server. We get seated and apologies all around because the AC stopped working, which is why they were only doing to-go orders during the day, but now it’s nighttime and cooling down. Get our drinks. Go to order our food. It’s my turn. They’re out of the two things I was really craving. Go figure. I settle for spaghetti and meatballs. We all stuff our faces, food was decent, and we make our way back to the hotel to pass the hell out. Wednesday starts a whole new fresh day of hell waiting for us. Not to mention, the forecast for their entire trip didn’t have a single day below 110 degrees during the day and at least 85 degrees at night.

Wednesday arrives. We all slept pretty well. Got up, made a 25 minute drip to get some Dutch Bros coffee (well worth it) and start our day. We get back to mom’s apartment and start sectioning off her place with sheets and blankets to try and get it cooling down at least in the main room where she sleeps. D made no less than 10 trips to the hardware store and even got a hug from a random stranger when he was stopped and asked if he needed help. We finally finished up with sectioning off rooms, creating trip and fire hazards with extension cords upon extension cords, just to get us through until another option was available.

I’m so thankful D was here because he was the push I needed – he was the voice of reason in all of this chaos and kept pushing me to get things done. Not in an overbearing pushy way, but in a way he knows I needed. I needed to get mom out of her place. Her “apartment” is really an old garage that’s been converted into something “livable”, but apparently the wiring has always been shit and we’ve just overloaded it with her extra hospice supplies and the extreme temps. I had to cave and find another place for us to live. I reached out to her friend Robyn, who is like a mother to her and a grandmother to me, and asked if we could crowd her space for a little while. She was over the moon to help because little did I know, she’s been pushing and hoping for my mom to move in with her since she bought this place a year ago. The remainder of Wednesday was spent with making phone calls to have equipment delivered to our new place in the Willows Retirement Community. Once the equipment is delivered, I can have the old equipment picked up and we should be good to go. Right? Bahahaha suuuuure. I make the necessary calls, get appointments made, help is coming to move mom, and I’m feeling a little relieved that we at least have a plan. Poor D and all that work he did sweating his ass off, now only to move her to a new location. We finish up at mom’s, I pack a few things she’ll need, and me, D, and kiddo head out for dinner and a night with just the 3 of us. After dinner, we stop at Robyn’s to assess the situation and move furniture if needed for the big delivery the next day.

Thursday morning arrives. What fresh hell awaits today? I should really stop asking that at some point. Maybe I’ll learn. Robyn asked us to bring mom’s small window unit to install because she’s worried her AC won’t be able to keep up and keep mom comfortable. No problem, we’ll do anything for this woman at this point. Including rig up a piece to fit into the horizontal sliding windows to fill the gap left by having the unit installed. D was able to custom make a few plywood inserts and seal it up nicely to have it start cooling down ahead of mom’s move. Equipment arrives a bit later, we get all set up, and back to mom’s place to get here transported. Get mom over to Robyn’s and it’s still pretty warm in her place so D heads back to the unit to check it out and low and behold – it’s frozen over and not pushing any cold air out. Queue him leaving to go get my mom’s hair dryer and we hook up fans to start thawing this thing and getting it under 90 degrees inside. God I love this man and his ever living patience for me and my family bullshit that just never seems to end.

We get the AC working, mom’s settled yet still not fully comprehending everything going on, so we’re able to take off and head to get some food, relax, figure SOMETHING out other than sitting here taking care of my mother. So much for super awesome family time haha. I take them back so they can grab food, take showers, go to the arcade, whatever they’d like while I make another run back to our new place with Robyn. Long story short – the arcade was closed and the attached bowling alley only had 4 of 16 lanes open and were filled. Just our luck this go around. Oh well, we still have one full day together and Jen said she’s making damn sure we get a little time together before they all leave. I decide to message my brother and let him know what’s going on and that if he does want to take her dogs, he needs to figure it out asap because of the current situation. I won’t get into the nitty gritty of our sibling fight, but ultimately I’m a “fucking joke” that only does things to hold them over his head. I finally had to level with him and let him know I’m struggling. I can’t take the dogs, I don’t know how Murphy is with cats. D is also very allergic to short-haired dogs. Either I find someone to take them both or I will have to put them down, per mom’s wishes. He says he’s struggling too and trying to do the best he can… but then again… where is he? Oh yeah, back in Iowa because he was just promoted, has a family to worry about, and bills. I forgot how important those things are…. I told him this is how it is and any further opinions on how things should be handled can be done in person because he can come trade places with me ANY fucking time he’d like.

Queue sunrise. Friday morning. Our last day together. I promised kiddo we’d make a day trip to Sedona, see some crystals, find souvenirs, go swimming, do SOMETHING together. We head over to Robyn’s to say good morning and head to let the dogs out. I also have to try and time this around the old equipment being picked up at my mom’s. I’m sure this will all go well. We do some morning swimming and decide to get the driving portion of our day out of the way. Get halfway there and have to turn around to meet the delivery driver to pick up the stuff. Get that taken care of, go on a scenic drive through Sedona, stopped at Crystal Magic, and then went to search for food. Hi Denny’s! We loved you so much night #1, let’s do it again! At least this time, they had what I wanted and the service was impeccable. We went back to the hotel and I had to go back to mom’s and deal with dogs again – let them out, play with them, etc. They’re so stressed, I can just feel it on them, but I can’t take them where we are. Murphy is too big and would flip his shit if I took Wheezy and not him. So now, they both suffer alone, together. D and kiddo get some food and end up getting free money for the arcade, while I visit with Jen and Robyn a bit. Vented about my brother and his woman, who Jen is friends with, but Jen also knows a lot of the bullshit I’ve dealt with my entire life. Things D doesn’t even know or I haven’t been entirely forthcoming about. We vented, got baked, and I headed back for my last night with my loves. My mother hasn’t made this trip easy – not one bit. Between the off handed remarks about how I’m a bully or I’m mean to hear or how it’s silly for D and kiddo to be here because it’s all about her and blah blah blah… this week has probably been one of the hardest of my life – and that’s including my younger brother’s suicide.

4 a.m. wake up – head over to pick up Jen and head down the mountain to the airport for their 8 am flight. The drive was easy and uneventful. Oh yeah, part of the mountain is on fire right now too – so along with the sunrise, we got the lovely glow of burning acreage not far from us. Not enough to worry about – let’s add a wildfire too.

Saying good bye to them was so hard this time, but their visit gave me a new sense of purpose and meaning. I’m so ready to come home. I miss them and need them. I don’t think I’ll be here much longer, but we’ll see. Hospice is 6 months of life or less, right? 1.5 months down.

Pray for me, send good vibes, happy thoughts, whatever the fuck. I need it before I start dosing her to keep her sleeping. I’m kidding. Kind of. Am I? I don’t even fucking know at this point.

And that is how I came to live in this retirement community.

Until next time.

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