My Parents' Bed

I have to sell my parents' bed.

I don't want to do it. However, the rest of the sibs are busy taking care of Dad so they are asking me to do it. They don't care that it's making me an emotional wreck. It's a bed. Get over it.

It's more than that to me. 

When we moved my Mom to a Long-Term Care facility (LTC) a few years ago, it necessitated selling the family home which I was living in with my parents. It was an emotional time for me, not only having to go through the items that I had acquired over a lifetime but also having to decide which things of my mother's to keep since she couldn't take much where she was going. 

Over the last few years while I was taking care of her, she told me the stories behind many of them: the fur coat that she saved 6 months for to buy when she was working before she got married, the blue dress her sisters made for her when she was a teenager, the luggage set she bought when her family travelled to Jamaica that she had her initials engraved on, as examples. Now I am the keeper of those memories. 

Selling the bed has brought all that emotion up again.

But it's just a bed, right?

My parents bought the bed to replace their California King - which had originally been a waterbed. The sides were too high for Mom to get in anymore. This bed was their solution: low enough to get out of easily with a padded headrest so she wouldn't bang her head anymore, in a soothing grey for Dad. King size, so they could both sleep when Mom decided to move around in her sleep.

I put it together when it arrived. My first IKEA bed. Little did I know then that after the house was sold, I would make money for groceries putting together beds for other people. At the time, I was proud that I was able to do it.

At that time, things were very tense between my parents. They didn't share that bed for many hours: Dad would go to bed early and rise early. Mom would stay up until the wee hours and sleep until noon. But for those few hours when they were both asleep, they were calm and peaceful. Watching them sleep, I could see the people I used to remember.

We don't know when it happened, but Mom had a stroke in her sleep. She hid that from us. What we did know was that she was having memory problems. She also hid that she had a uterine prolapse that was getting progressively worse. 

What we did know was that she needed to urinate frequently and didn't always make it across the hall. I changed the sheets many times in those days. She would cry, traumatized and embarrassed. I suspected that it was connected to something in her childhood but she never confirmed that.

The prolapse got so bad that she started developing UTIs and shot up her blood sugar. This eventually led to the first of her hospital stays, which accelerated her memory damage. She was diagnosed with dementia. 

A year later, she developed another one. Mom needed help every hour through the night so Dad and I would take turns trying to grab a few hours sleep. Dad slept on the couch instead of the bed because she was so restless. Eventually, we couldn't get her up off the bed and had to call an ambulance. I helped them get Mom off the bed. That was the last time she lay in it.

During that hospital stay they convinced us that the best thing to do would be to move her into LTC. Dad and I were exhausted and acknowledged to each other that we couldn't do it anymore. As it happened, she got scheduled for the long-awaited prolapse surgery a month after she moved. I sometimes contemplate how different things would have been if it had happened sooner. 

Then I'm reminded that if it was meant to happen that way, it would have.

She was released from the hospital and came home to a rented hospital bed in the living room. She had refused to do any physio in the hospital and wasn't too keen on doing it at home either. I convinced her that if she could get herself up the stairs to the bedroom then she'd be able to sleep in her bed, knowing all the time that she wouldn't. And it worked. She got stronger. By the time she moved, she was walking.

It was the first time I had to lie to her about what was happening, the first of many, lies that made me sick. It's why now when I see her I try to find a way to be truthful within the confines of her health challenges when she asks me something. It just takes too much of a toll on me.

She moves and the next few months is getting her settled in, selling the house and moving out. The bed goes into storage, as does my life. My belongings get out of storage 3 months later but it's more than a year later before the bed gets to do the same.

Dad was waiting for them to finish construction on the adjoining retirement residence and lived with my sister in the meantime so he could go visit Mom every day. The bed get reassembled in his new suite when it finally opens and for the next year he would go get Mom for the afternoon and they would do activities with their new friends. They both blossomed under the social activity they had at the Village and it was wonderful to see.

Then COVID hit. The beginning of the end. Some of their friends died. Mom tested positive but thankfully only had a mild case. They were not allowed to see each other and we weren't allowed to see them. They both got depressed. Mom fell a couple of times. Dad's health started to decline. They were only allowed to be physically together when both sides were clear of outbreak, which was rare. 

I won't forget the day I got permission to bring Mom over to see Dad. At that point, it had been close to a year since she had been to his pad. They sat on the couch, just being together. I shared a photo and one of my brothers said it looked like they were about to go to sleep. It was the same restfulness I had seen in those times when they both slept in the bed.

But then, back into outbreak. Where Dad wasn't allowed to see her because he lived in the retirement residence. Yet if he had lived anywhere else he would have been able to. Dad had already started to go downhill physically but this I believe broke him. 

It's his physical issues that have led to selling the bed. He's had two hospital stays recently. He had low blood pressure, he's needed to go on insulin (meantime, since Mom's moved to the Village, she's stopped), they have found 2 distended hernias, and the most damaging, a crack in his spine.

The decision had been made that he was moving back in with my sister, who was losing the place she was living in. This way he could see Mom and his family. It was moving week when he got out of the hospital the last time and I came to stay with him until moving day. 

Spinal issues can lead to a lack of bowel control. My dad became the perpetual poop machine. And like Mom, he was embarrassed. Angry at his lack of control and berated himself for being like a child. I changed the bed for him, too.

Both of them kept apologizing to me when I needed to help them. I just reminded them that they had done the same for me once upon a time. So the bed represents to me being able to give back all the care they gave me growing up.

Selling the bed is a reminder that my Mom is in LTC and will never leave. That without Dad being able to visit, she is very much alone. I try to go when I can but it's a 2-hour trip either way on transit so it's a day commitment. I was doing it when I was the only person who could safely visit both of them but with my long work hours it is draining. I am thinking about learning how to drive so that I could go visit more often but not even sure when I will find the time to do that.

Selling the bed is a reminder that my Dad is now frail and may never be robust again. That's it going to be very hard to get my parents together at all for the foreseeable future.

Selling the bed is a reminder that I'm nearing the end of my time with them. I'm not ready to face that.

So...does anyone want a bed?


KimHall said…
❤️❤️❤️❤️��.beautiful truth.