My father fell dead from his riding lawn mower at age 80. On that day I knew I had to take care of my mother for the rest of her life.
That was hard for me then. I was living my life 300 miles away, trying to make a success of myself. I had no experience or education for this.
I spent a while in denial of my responsibility to take care of her until one day I traveled to see her, opened the door, and saw something I never wanted to see. The house was dark, she was asleep in her chair in front of a crackling TV, and she looked terribly alone.
That was the day I put my selfishness aside and started to help her like she had always helped me. She had to get out of that dark house, exchange her isolation and loneliness for companionship, and move into a safer living environment. So, we started to make a transition.
Crossing the bridge from home to senior living was a nightmare for us at first. We didn’t have the internet to help. The largest senior living company in America was an infant then, and our search was a real hit-and-miss adventure.
The “nursing home” tours were scary and disheartening for both of us. She was filled with fear, anxiety, and uncertainty. We were about to give up.
After years of tours, making deposits and taking them back, and other agonizing events, she finally said “yes” to a welcoming, comfortable continuing care community that didn’t frighten her, I cried like a baby from joy and relief. She lived happily there for the rest of her life, and I had fulfilled my mission.
That experience kindled a rebirth in me, so I wrote a book about later-in-life living decisions and created The Crossing a Bridge Network. Thanks to my mother, we now help senior living communities throughout North America by providing a much-needed transition service to their families.
-- Raleigh R. Lee